The founding of the University in 1614 – at that time still a college of higher education – was an initiative taken by the Regional Assembly of the city of Groningen and the Ommelanden, or surrounding region. There were four faculties – Theology, Law, Medicine and Philosophy. The first 75 years of its existence were very fruitful for the University with about 100 students enrolling every year. Almost half of the students and lecturers came from outside the Netherlands – the first Rector Magnificus, Ubbo Emmius, came from East Frisia in modern day Germany, for instance – but at the same time there was already a close relationship between the University and the city and the surrounding region.
The development of the University came to a standstill at the end of the seventeenth and during the eighteenth century because of theological differences of opinion, a difficult relationship with the Regional Assembly and political problems that included the siege of the city by ‘Bommen Berend’ in 1672. On average two to three hundred students were registered with the University at any one time during this period. Petrus Camper, though, was a shining academic example during the second half of the eighteenth century and was famous far beyond the city limits as an anatomist, a fighter against rinderpest and the founder of the first outpatient’s clinic for surgical medicine.