The establishment of the Higher Teacher Training College in Siedlce in 1969 was a great distinction and a very important historic event both in the history of the city and development of its educational institutions. Not only did it give the city new perspectives for its cultural and social development, but also allowed the College to exercise a greater influence on the cultural life of the whole region. It also offered easier access to higher education for young people from the Podlasie and north-eastern Mazovian area. Moreover, it laid foundations for the development of a scientific centre in the city.
Over the years Siedlce has experienced good and bad fortune. The most outstanding period of its cultural and intellectual development came during Enlightenment. At the time the magnate residence of Duchess Ogińska of the Czartoryski family was an important centre of the court life in Poland. Duchess Aleksandra became a patron of those who in those days had a great impact on the social and cultural development of the city. Today numerous signs of their activities can be found throughout the city, speaking of a long tradition of cultural life and evoking feelings of reflection over the past of the city and region as well as transmitting a historical message to the academic community of Siedlce.
Siedlce has been enjoying a long tradition of teacher training. As early as 1820 the first educational institution was established there which trained teachers of primary schools. Then, the teacher training course that lasted for one year was launched in 1916. This was followed by the establishment of the State Training College of Marshal Józef Piłsudzki on the initiative and efforts of the regional organisation of Polska Macierz Szkolna (Polish Educational Institution). After it was closed down, the High School of Teacher Training was established in 1937, offering three-year studies; however, it was closed by the Nazi three years later. During the second world war teacher education was organised in clandestine classes. It was in the spring of 1944 that the High School of Teacher Training was again opened.
There were various types of teacher training courses run alongside the High School of Teacher Training in the period after the war. Additionally, the Correspondence Teacher Training High School was functioning in the period of 1958-1963. The year 1962 marked the establishment of a new teacher training institution, namely the Teacher Training College, operating till 1970. In 1969 when the Higher Teacher Training School (university level) was opened in Siedlce, a new stage in the history of education and teacher training in Siedlce was initiated, laying foundations for the Siedlce University of Natural Sciences and Humanities of today.
Initially, the Higher Teacher Training School was divided into two faculties, the Faculty of Pedagogy and the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. Students chose between the four study programmes as follows: mathematics and physics, chemistry and physics, primary school teaching with mathematics, and primary school teaching with physical education. In 1970 a new study programme was added, namely biology with chemistry. This was followed by the opening of the Faculty of Humanities with the two programmes: Polish philology with history and Russian philology. The first Rector of the Higher Teacher Training School was Prof. Jozef Kozłowski.
In August 1974 the School was transformed into the Higher School of Pedagogy, obtaining the rights to grant master's degrees in the following programmes: mathematics, chemistry, biology, special pedagogy, school pedagogy, pre-school pedagogy, Polish and Russian philology. Then in 1977 it underwent further reorganisation.
On 1 October 1977 the Higher School of Pedagogy was transformed into the Higher School for Agriculture and Pedagogy, which initiated significant structural changes. The Faculty of Humanities was closed down along with the two programmes, Polish and Russian Philology. The Faculty of Pedagogy was renamed the Faculty of Pedagogy and Rural Culture, while the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences was renamed the Faculty of Chemistry and Mathematics. Additionally, the Faculty of Agriculture was added with the three study programmes of agriculture, animal husbandry, and biology. Only within a few years after its inception in 1986, the Faculty was granted rights to confer Ph.D. degree in agronomy, which improved its standing among other institutions of higher education.
In June 1991 the Faculty of Humanities was re-opened with the three study programmes, namely pedagogy, history, and Polish philology. In 1996 one more programme was added to its educational offer that of management and marketing, setting a scene for opening the Faculty of Management (in the year 2000). Further changes came in 1993 when the programme in computing was added to the curriculum of the Faculty of Chemistry and Mathematics. This was followed by the opening of the Institute of Philology within the Faculty of Humanities, with the two study programmes of English and Russian. In the year 2002 the University applied to the Polish Ministry of Education for permission to open the two new study programmes, namely administration and study of politics. Prior to these activities integrative studies were introduced for students with disabilities in the 90s. In the meanwhile, the School was authorised to grant Ph.D. degrees in the fields of animal husbandry, biology, and chemistry. It also obtained the rights to grant a D.Sc. degree in agronomy. In 1996 doctoral studies were launched at the Faculty of Agriculture.
Having existed for thirty years, the Higher School for Pedagogy and Agriculture was raised to a higher status of academy by a bill of 10 April 1999, passed by the Seym (Parliament) of the Polish Republic, and renamed the University. This date marked a new important stage in its history and the next step in its organisational, scientific, and educational development. A constant development of the research and concern for the quality of education has led to the creation of four faculties within the University with over 8,400 students, including full-time, part-time, post diploma and PhD ones. Vast majority of the faculties are entitled to award MA degree, moreover, the University is also entitled to award PhD degree in agronomy, biology, chemistry, animal husbandry, history and international relations. Siedlce University is authorized to conduct procedures for D.Sc. in agronomy and animal husbandry.
The University has signed bilateral agreements with 13 institutions of higher education in post-Soviet Union republics (Russia, Byelorussia, Georgia, Lithuania). Moreover, the University has been cooperating with universities in Bulgaria, Germany and the USA. Many scientists have been maintaining contacts with a number of scientific institutions in Holland, Germany, Great Britain, France, and the USA.
We have been participating within the educational Lifelong Learning Programme/Erasmus since the year 2002. In 2007 , the European Commission awarded the Erasmus Extended University Charter for the years 2007-2013 to the University. This extended Charter allows to take part in the academic mobility of students, teachers and other staff and also to organize foreign placements for students. The University has signed 17 inter-institutional agreements within the framework of the LLP/Erasmus Programme with the universities in Latvia, Slovenia, Slovakia ,Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Germany, Turkey, and Romania.
The University has implemented the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) to the curricula.
In the exploration of new ideas and in the preparation of citizens for their roles in a changing society, Siedlce University represents a human commitment - an expression of the aspiration of people to better themselves and the world in which they live.
The president of Poland, Bronisław Komorowski, signed the bill transforming the Academy of Podlasie into the University of Natural Sciences and Humanities on 13th August 2010. That was the last stage of the legislative procedure completing the process of transformation from the Academy to the University. The bill came into force on 1st October 2010 and since then Siedlce has become a university town. Siedlce University of Natural Sciences and Humanities is the only university in the Masovian Voivodship apart from universities in Warsaw.