STAznanost

First doctorate awarded in Ljubljana 100 years ago

Ljubljana, 15 July - One hundred years to the day the first ever doctorate was awarded at a Slovenian university. Ana Mayer received a doctorate in chemistry after completing at the newly-established University of Ljubljana her chemistry studies which she started in Vienna before the collapse of Austria-Hungary.

Mayer, born in 1895 Lo┼że near Vipava, south-western Slovenia, started studying chemistry and physics at the Vienna university in 1914.

She was forced to leave in 1918 when the university decided after the end of WWI that all Slavic students must leave it, according to the kvarkadabra.net website.

Mayer continued her studies after Ljubljana got the first university in 1919, earning the doctorate on 15 July 1920 as the first student and the first women.

Even before her doctorate, she started working at the university as an assistant at the Chemistry Institute, as the first woman to teach at the university.

Although she wanted to continue the academic career, she quit in 1922 for what could be a lack of funding at the institute, her marriage to Evgen Kansky, a professor of medicine, or because she was pregnant.

She thus went into business, setting up a company which became synonymous with quality chemical substances and pursued a successful business career.

She also established a factory of diethyl ether and solvents for varnishes in Podgrad near Ljubljana, laying the foundations for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries in Slovenia. The factory was first seized by the Nazis and then nationalised by the communist authorities in 1948.

Ana Mayer-Kansky had three children and died in 1962, whereas her husband, who was forced to retire in the autumn of 1945, died 15 years after her.

According to Slovenia's Statistics Office (SURS), almost 11,600 students have earned their doctorates in Slovenia since the country became independent in 1991.

There were over 3,300 doctoral students in the 2019/2020 academic year and in 2019 there were almost 13,200 persons with a PhD in Slovenia - a mere 0.6% of the population.

There was at least one person with a PhD in all but five Slovenian municipalities, while 18 municipalities had more than 100.

Ljubljana as the largest city and home to the older and largest Slovenian university had more than 5,530 doctors of science, or 42% of its residents.

The number of residents with a PhD in Slovenia is increasing, having risen by 585 a year over the past five years, according to SURS.