The present Faculty of Oriental Studies of the University of Warsaw started in 1932 as an institute of the same name. The founding father and first director of the Institute of Oriental Studies was Prof. Stanisław Schayer, a specialist in Indian studies. In 1934 the Institute comprised just four seminars: Egyptology, Indology, Sinology, and Turkish Studies. Until World War II, some staff members collaborated with the School of Eastern Research which was founded in 1930 as part of the Institute of Eastern Studies established in 1926.
Restoring the Institute after World War II was no easy task. The Institute became part of the Philological Faculty in 1952, but the number of students was still very small. It was not until 1958, the year of a liberal reform of higher education in Poland, that the interest in Oriental studies began to grow significantly. As a result of this development, the Department of African Studies was founded in 1962.
The Philological Faculty was divided into smaller structural units in 1968, and the Institute of Oriental Studies became part of the Faculty of Foreign Language Studies (since 1975: Faculty of Modern Language Studies). The Institute has been developing ever since. Its Academic Council was entitled to award PhD degrees in 1972, and habilitations in linguistics and literature in 2003.
In 2008, in recognition of its unquestionable advance in didactics and scholarship, the Institute was promoted to a higher structural level and took its present position of the Faculty of Oriental Studies. In search of a new identity and place of Oriental studies in Poland and abroad in the years to come the Faculty continues to enhance its educational profile by offering cross-sectional programmes such as “Transcultural Communication: Asia and Africa” and “Religions of Asia and Africa: Bhuddism, Islam, and Others”. Publications of the academics and PhD students have covered ever since a wide range of issues related to the languages, literature, history, culture, and religions of particular regions of Asia (including post-Soviet countries) and Africa.
With 200 members of the academic and administrative staff and over 1,500 undergraduate, graduate and PhD students, the Faculty of Oriental Studies of the University of Warsaw remains a major centre of Oriental studies and has only a few peers in Europe as regards its developed structure and broad scholarly interests.