The canton of Ticino’s first centre for higher education was the Università della Svizzera italiana, or USI, built in the 1990’s. Before then, the Ticinesi would go to the surrounding areas to further their education in places such as Zurich and Milan. The obvious place to build a university was in Lugano, but a political group called Lega Dei Ticinesi, known for their conservatism and isolationist ideals, opposed the idea.
The only higher education school in Ticino at the time was Franklin College Switzerland, an American school, and it’s student population did not help sway the Ticinesi from the misconception that ‘universities’ were a source of dirtiness and danger. It was only when G. Bignasca’s, co-founder of Lega Dei Ticinesi, construction company was contracted to build Franklin College’s new dormitory, Panera, that he realized a massive amount of profit could be made from universities.
In 1996, the Università della Svizzera italiana opened, making it Ticino’s first university. The university offers a number of courses, but is lacking in humanities due to the fear that humanities studies cause students to gather around cafes and plot revolutions. You just can’t make this stuff up. :P
A side note, Bignasca is currently the landlord for two of Franklin’s dormitories and he’s making an enormous amount of money.
Yup. That’s it. That’s what I learned walking to the USI library in the freaking pouring rain. :)