The University of Silesia was established on 8 June 1968 as Poland’s ninth university. The university was created through a merger of a branch of the Jagiellonian University existing in Katowice since 1963 with the Higher School of Pedagogy which at that time was the only academic institution in the region, with its roots dating back to 1928. When in 1968 the University of Silesia inaugurated its first academic year, it consisted of four faculties (Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry, Faculty of Law and Administration, Faculty of Humanities and Faculty of Technical Education), educated 6 thousand students and employed over 2000 academic teachers.

The University authorities and most o its faculties are based in Katowice. The remaining faculties and other units are located in three other towns and cities in southern Poland: Cieszyn, Chorzów and Sosnowiec. Since 2001 the University of Silesia has also been present in the town of Rybnik where it is a part of the Complex of Institutions of Higher Education.

The University structure also comprises two university-wide units: the Inter-Faculty Individual Studies in the Humanities (MISH), launched in 1997 and addressed to candidates with broad interests in the humanities, and the Inter-Faculty Individual Studies in Mathematics and the Natural Sciences (MISP), launched in 1998 and addressed to candidates displaying interest in exact sciences and natural sciences. Both these programmes are designed to enhance the prospective graduates’ ability to adapt to the ever-changing job market. They are also a good choice for those who want to pursue academic careers.

In 1982 the University launched the University of the Third Age, whose functioning is based on cooperation with other institutions of higher education based in Katowice – the Medical University of Silesia and the academies:  Academy of Music, Academy of Fine Arts and Academy of Physical Education.

The University of Silesia has signed over 250 international agreements which enable the exchange of students and academic personnel as well as taking up joint research. At the same time, the University actively participates in international educational and research initiatives, and is a member of international academic organizations, e.g. IAU, CRE, AUDEM, IAUP, CBUR.

The first rector of the University of Silesia (in the years of 1968-1972) was a historian, Prof. PhD. Kazimierz Popiołek.

Currently the University of Silesia is run by His Magnificence Rector Prof. zw. dr hab. Wiesław Banyś.