FRENCH UNIVERSITIES take their origin from the University of Paris, the first great university of Northern Europe. (See PARIS, UNIVERSITY OF.) In the greater part of the nineteenth century the word university had a widely different mean ing in France from that which it conveyed in other countries, the term de France' being nearly equivalent to 'national system of education of France.' The French Revolution put an end to the universities of the ancien r6gime, and the attempts of the Convention to establish similar institutions were short-lived. Napoleon organized a comprehensive system of higher education in one unified whole—the Uni versity of France. This was placed directly under the control of the Government, admin istered from Paris, and made an instrument of government in the hands of the central power. Higher education was given under fifteen facul ties in each of the educational districts. These faculties were preeminently examining and de gree-conferring bodies. The courses of study were strictly controlled from Paris, and the work was almost wholly of a professional and practical character. This organization, with various alter ations, continued until 1896. While the various faculties of law, theology, medicine. science, and literature existed in most of the different edu cational districts, the so-called academies, in no case save at Paris were they organized into a university. The law of 1896, which went into effect January 1, 1898, created fifteen au tonomous universities in place of the previous unified university with scattered faculties. While much of the control of the institution is still exercised by the :Minister of Education and the authorities at Paris, yet much local autonomy is exercised in respect to examinations. degrees, and supplementary courses of instruction. The support of these institutions is now left largely to the localities. This stimulates local pride and activity, and many of the localities have made great additions to the material equipment and plant of the institution. Private munifi
cence can now also be accepted, and it has been given in some instances. The universities in the smaller towns. however, have suffered consid erably from the change, for while the change has largely increased the student attendance, yet this has been for the most part to the advantage of the universities in large cities, such as Paris. Bordeaux, and Lyons. The local universities are also under the necessity of supporting the course of study given outside of the State programme.
The reform of 1890 was quite as important in regard to methods of study as in regard to ad ministration. New emphasis is laid upon the work of investigation. The professional student is now given an opportunity for doing this, and in some faculties is expected to do it previous to receiving a degree. The change has especially benefited the Faculty of Science and Arts, which previously had had no regular students, since all courses were public and free and were consequently at tended chiefly by chance comers. The same form provided for the opening of the universities to foreigners and the of the doc torate. The attendance of foreigners, especially Americans, has increased constantly since the re forms were instituted. The number of professor ships has also been largely increased. The uni versity system now includes two faculties of Protestant theology, thirteen faculties of law, seven faculties of medicine, fifteen faculties of science, fifteen faculties of letters, and four mixed faculties (Bordeaux, Lille, Lyons, Toulouse). The local universities in addition to the four just mentioned are Paris, Aix, Marseilles, Besancon, Caen, Clermont, Dijon, Montpellier, Nancy, Poitiers, and Rennes.