University of Santo Tomas

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The University of Santo Tomas main building.

The Royal and Pontifical University of Santo Tomas (UST), is considered to be the premier Catholic university of the Philippines and the oldest existing university in Asia. In Spanish, it is referred to A La Real y Pontificia Universidad de Santo Tomas de Aquino Universidad Católica de Filipinas. King Charles III of Spain bestowed the title “Royal” on 1785; “Pontifical” by Pope Leo XIII on 1902 through his constitution, Quae Mari Sinico and Pope Pius XII designated “appellative "The Catholic University of the Philippines" on 1947.

It is also the largest Catholic university in the world in a single campus based on student enrollment. It was established through the efforts of Bishop Miguel de Benavides, the third Archbishop of Manila. Upon Benavides’ death in July 1605, the bishop bestowed P1,500 and his personal library for the setting up of a “seminary-college” intended for the preparation of young men for the priesthood. The funds and the personal library became the core of UST and its library.

It was on 28 April 1611, when the Colegio de Nuestra Señora del Santísimo Rosario was established from Benavides’ library. The institution was late renamed Colegio de Santo Tomas. On 20 November 1645, it was promoted to a university by Pope Innocent X.


The University Seal

The seal of UST appears to be a shield quartered by the Dominican Cross. There is a superimposed sun of the patron saint of Catholic schools, St. Thomas Aquinas, after whom the university is named. The sun is similar to that of the Sun of May.

On the seal’s upper left corner is the Papal Tiara. It refers to the pontifical roots of the university. A lion is set on the upper right, which is traced from the seal of Spain and is associated with the royal patronage of the university’s centuries-old existence. An image of a sea-lion is seen on the lower left quadrant which is from the old seal of the City of Manila, the capital of the country. This symbol indicates that the university is a part of the Republic of the Philippines. The patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary is symbolized by a rose on the lower right corner, to remember that the university was under the Blessed Mother’s care from its very beginnings.

The symbols are set in gold with a background of light blue, symbolizing the Marian color. The cross, is set in black and-white, symbolizing the Dominican colors.


UST is a private Roman Catholic university. The university revolves around the teachings and philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, the doctor and patron saint of Catholic schools.

The university has five clusters of discipline spread over 19 faculties, colleges, and institutes namely Science and Technology; Arts and the Humanities; Education and the Social Sciences; Medicine and Health, and the Ecclesiastical Faculties.

UST is known for a great track record when it comes to producing top calibre individuals including national heroes, church martyrs, renowned scientists, national artists, internationally renowned business people and athletes, prominent doctors, 4 presidents of the Philippines, 3 vice presidents and 6 Chief Justices.

UST Campus

The University stands on a 21.5 hectare land bounded by España Boulevard, P.Noval, A.H. Lacson and Dapitan St, in Sampaloc, Manila. It was relocated to its present campus in 1927 when the Dominicans decided that the Intramuros Campus was not enough for the university’s growing number of students. Among the earlier structures found in the campus were the Main Building, the Santisimo Rosario Parish, the UST Gym (once the largest gym in the country), and the Arch of the Centuries. The present campus is a combination of old and new architecture including the UST Multi-Deck carpark.





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