The University of Zaragoza started out as an Arts Studio, created by the church in the 12th century, where Grammar and Philosophy were taught, and where bachelor’s degrees were awarded. But it was not until 10th September 1542, that its real inauguration began, when the emperor Carlos V, at the request of the city of Zaragoza, attended the Courts of Aragon –gathered in Monzón-, to sign a privilege deed that promoted the arts studio to the rank of "General University of all sciences". In 1554 a papal bull of Pope Julius III approved the founding of the "Studium Generale", but the classes did not start until 1583.
Throughout its five centuries of history, the lecture halls of the University of Zaragoza have been graced with the presence of famous characters such as the botanist and economist Ignacio de Asso, the bibliographer Félix de Latassa, the geographer Isidoro de Antillón, the doctor Santiago Ramón y Cajal (Nobel Prize in 1906) or the Cuban liberator, José Martí. The University has also awarded its highest honour, the Honorary Doctorate, to figures such as Luis Buñuel, Ramón J. Sender or Rigoberta Menchú.
The University of Zaragoza has 18 of its own centres and 5 affiliated centres, as well as a Doctoral School. It is the only public university in Aragón, and the centres are spread out over the campuses in Zaragoza, Huesca and Teruel.
Along with the public universities of Navarra, La Rioja and Lleida, it forms part of Campus Iberus, International Campus of Excellence of the Ebro Valley. The creation of the cross border campus EBRoS Western Pyrenees is underway between the universities of the Campus Iberus, PRES Université de Toulouse and the Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour.
On an international level, it holds agreements with institutions from all over the world, and is one of the top ranked Spanish universities in terms of student participation in international mobility programmes.