The tradition of higher education in Pardubice dates back to the first months after the Second World War and is very closely connected to the development of the transport network and food, machine and chemical industry in the city and the region. In the autumn of 1945, local chemical factories suggested the establishment of a chemical college in Pardubice. Five years later, on 27 June 1950, the Czech government established the Chemical College. Classes started on 15 October 1950 in the restored buildings of the former Technical College of Food Industry. In the following academic year, the former building of the Technical College of Engineering was reconstructed for the needs of the Chemical College and since then has been in use as the main building of the Faculty of Chemical Technology in the Čs. Legií Square.
In November 1953, the school became an independent body as the Institute of Chemical Technology headed by a Rector.
The Institute developed rapidly in what became known as "the city of chemistry". A four-year study curriculum was changed to five years and the students could gradually choose from seven specialisations in Chemistry and Technical Chemistry. Later on, the number of specialisations doubled. Theoretical subjects became an essential part of study, and the research activities systematically improved at all departments. Many outstanding scientists joined the academic staff, of whom three are worth mentioning in particular: Professor Miroslav Jureček, expert of European renown, in fact became the founder and pioneer of the Czech School of Organic Substances Analysis; Professor Jiří Klikorka was the first and long-time Rector; and Assistant Prof. Jan Wanka was an outstanding expert in analysis. These scientists, together with other experienced specialists, became the founders of the first specialised departments of the Institute.
Additional lecture rooms and laboratories were needed for the increasing number of students and teachers. It took more than fifteen years to establish the requisite educational and research staff and adequate social environment. In the early 1960s, a new complex of technological departments was built on the outskirts of the city, and two new wings expanded the original main building in the city centre. At the same time, new Halls of Residence, a Dining Hall and sports facilities were built on the north bank of the Labe (Elbe) river.
In 1991, an important restructuring of the Institute took place and brought into existence two faculties, the Faculty of Chemical Technology and the Faculty of Economics and Administration. These two Faculties became the nuclei of the future University. While the former offers twenty specialisations within BSc., MSc. and postgraduate PhD. degree courses in Chemical Engineering, the latter provides BSc., MSc. and PhD. study programmes in Public Administration, Regional and Economic Management and Informatics. The newly established Faculty, in 1993 renamed the Faculty of Economics and Administration, answered the call for professionally trained specialists for local state and municipal authorities and private businesses.
In 1992, the Institute of Languages and Humanities was established in compliance with a project suggested by the Ministry of Education to meet the constant need for qualified teachers of foreign languages at elementary schools. In the late 1990s, the Institute became the core of the future fourth Faculty oriented towards Philology and Social Sciences, offering BA and MA degree courses. Other courses in foreign language training and humanities for students from other University faculties and for the public are also provided by the Faculty.
Social and economic changes in the society and the formation of the new independent Czech Republic in 1993 became the major stimulus for the establishment of the Transport Faculty. As the Institute of Chemical Technology and the city of Pardubice were able to offer the necessary backing for the new Faculty, the Jan Perner Transport Faculty could be established on 1 April 1993. The new Faculty bears the name of Jan Perner, an outstanding 19th century railway engineer. Bachelor's and Master's degree courses are complemented by Doctoral study programmes, and the Faculty also has the right to professorial appointment procedures. In 2017, the Faculty was renamed the Faculty of Transport Engineering.
Since 31 March 1994, the original Institute of Chemical Technology has the status of university under the new name Univerzita Pardubice (University of Pardubice).
Another important chapter of the history of higher education in Pardubice began in January 2001, when the Faculty of Humanities was established from the Institute of Languages and Humanities. At the beginning of the third millennium, the new Faculty became the fourth pillar of the University, reflecting the European academic traditions. In 2004, the Faculty was renamed the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy.
In 1992, the University gained a new high-rise building and a lecture hall near the Halls of Residence. The new buildings on the north bank of the Labe river, together with the Halls of Residence, have become the basis of the modern University campus with wide possibilities for future development. In the centre of the campus, a high quality University library was built and opened to the public in the autumn of 1997. In addition, a new University auditorium and lecture rooms were built next to the library in 1999.
In 2002, two new institutes were established, namely the Institute of Informatics, later renamed as Institute of Electrical Engineering and Informatics, focused on modern information technologies and electrical engineering, and the Institute of Health Studies.
In July 2005, a new artistic faculty was established in Litomyšl: the Faculty of Restoration, which continues to broaden the educational, scientific activities and applied international projects in the field of arts, art restoration techniques and technologies that have been taking place in the city of Litomyšl since 1993. The Faculty is one of only a handful of Czech institutions that provide higher education in the field of art restoration.
On 1 January 2007, the Institute of Health Studies became the Faculty of Health Studies, which provides education in nursing and midwifery.
On 1 January 2008, the Institute of Electrical Engineering and Informatics became the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Informatics.
Currently, students can choose from different study programmes in the fields of science and engineering and social sciences in Bachelor´s, Master´s and Doctoral degree courses. Students may register for full-time or part-time studies. The duration of studies varies according to the chosen course, but generally ranges from three to five years.
Besides its teaching, the University of Pardubice is also renowned for numerous scientific and research activities, which have contributed to an excellent national and international reputation. Moreover, a number of specialised laboratories, organisations, institutions and societies function as part of the University. Teams of experienced professionals offer expert consulting and guidance services to external customers. In the recent history of the University, the Rector has awarded the academic titles of "doctor honoris causa" in recognition of outstanding achievements in the field of science to nine distinguished specialists and world-leading scientists.
During the more than 65 years of its existence, the Institute of Chemical Technology and later the University of Pardubice has become an important centre of education producing more than 15,000 professionally trained graduates. The University, with its more than 8,000 students and highly professional academic staff, is deeply rooted in Pardubice and the whole region, enriching and inspiring the community culturally.
Hopefully, the motto "Omni thesauro sapientia praestat et auro - Wisdom is more valuable than gold and all the world’s treasures" will continue to be an inspiration for the University of Pardubice in the future.