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The origin of university activities in the Canaries goes back to 1701 when Augustine monks established a centre for higher learning in the city of La Laguna. Its later history is marked by a series of arrangements followed by annulments starting in 1744 when a Papal Bull converting the learning centre into a St. Augustine Ecclesiastical University was never carried out.
Universidad de San FernandoOn March 11, 1792 a Royal Decree from Carlos IV ordered the creation of the first literary university in the Canary Islands in La Laguna, which was then the capital of Tenerife. However, the unstable political landscape after 1793 made it impossible to follow through with the decree. When the Bourbon Dynasty was restored, Fernando VII took interest in the Canarians longstanding desire to have a higher learning centre in the islands, and in order to settle the rivalry between islands on where it would be located, he dictated a new Royal Decree in 1816 which resolved to “establish a university in the city of San Cristóbal de La Laguna with the same privileges, exemptions and prerogatives as the rest of the universities in these kingdoms, and that said University be named the University of San Fernando”. The Jesuit boarding school served as the first seat of the Literary University of San Fernando, which opened its doors as an academic institution on January 12, 1817.
But this building was soon too small to meet the needs of the steadily increasing number of students and so in December of 1812 the University was partially transferred to the San Augustine Convent. Monks and students lived together in the convent until 1837 when the disentailment of church lands initiated by Mendizabal forced the religious order to give the entire property over to the university.
This is how the Jesuit boarding school came to house the meeting hall for the university senate and public ceremonies, the library, as well as Latin studies and the first school of letters, dependent on the municipal government of La Laguna. The Patriotic Society and the Friends of the Country Royal Economic Society also had meeting halls in this building. But the numerous shortcomings of the university, especially the lack of resources and the unstable teaching staff, led to a succession of orders to close and re-open the institution until it was definitively abolished in 1845 by a Royal Order that reduced the number of universities in Spain to ten and ordained the creation of the Canaries Institute in La Laguna.
The University of La Laguna is located in Tenerife, the largest of the seven Canary Islands, an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean about 100 kilometres northwest of the African continent at the closest point. The principal campuses (Central, Anchieta, Guajara and Ofra) of this learning institution are located in the city of La Laguna, although it also has other centres scattered throughout Santa Cruz de Tenerife. As of December 31, 2006, the university has 23,506 students, 1,839 professors and 819 administrative and services employees.