Lyon was one of the last big cities in France to be equipped with a university. Being an industrial and a commercial city, this delay can be explained by the fear of turning youngsters away from business. Lyon had to wait till the first third of the 19th century for the emergence of the first university-like institutions: the Science faculty in 1834, the Arts faculty in 1838, then the Law faculty in 1875, and the joint faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy in 1877. Each of these faculties was independent of the other, and it was only in 1896, under the Liard law, that the four faculties came together under what was called Université de Lyon.
The same year, the buildings situated on the Quai du Rhône, now partly occupied by Université Lumière Lyon 2, were inaugurated and the new Université de Lyon, with all the four faculties were united under the same roof.
The Faure law, passed following the social movements of 1968, provoked the splitting of Université de Lyon into three universities. Among these three, Université Lyon 2, regroups the faculties of law, arts, and humanities. The number of students increased considerably and the need for a new campus grew. A first of its kind campus was built in Bron: built around a main road, the campus was planned in a modular fashion with the buildings standing independent of one another and green stretches of land surrounding it.
In 1987, the university, paying homage to the Lumière brothers, became Université Lumière Lyon 2. New aspirations of the university: Lyon2 aims at offering wider access to culture and opening its doors to the world while, at the same time, maintaining its politics of quality and intellectual strength.
Today, Université Lumière Lyon 2 is situated at two principal locations:
From March 2007, the universities of Lyon were regrouped under the form of a public institution of scientific co-operation, PRES (Pôle de Recherche et d'Enseignement Supérieur) 'Université de Lyon' of which Lyon 2 is a founding member.