This dissertation focuses on the review and comparison of historical and contemporary approaches to the university in the context of changes in higher education, with a goal to promote discussion on the direction of university development in Croatia. The basic assumption of this dissertation is that the contemporary university has moved away from its humanistic values that derived from an ancient concept of education and romantic idea of university advocated by some of the most prominent German thinkers to being only a tool in satisfying the market needs. In an attempt to prove this assumption, firstly we examine the concept of education as a process of individual’s self-realization in the first chapter, then connect it to the concept of humanistic idea of university (Kant, Fichte, Schleiermacher, Hubmboldt, Newman, Jaspers) in the second and discuss this concept by comparing it to the new vision of higher education in the third chapter. In chapter four, we discuss and analyze some of the main legal documents and strategic frameworks on higher education on global, European and national level to see whether the concept of humanistic idea of university is still present in the legal-normative texts and strategic frameworks in EU and Croatia. In chapter five, we present the main results of the empirical study which was conducted as a part of this dissertation. Finally, in chapter six, we present some main conclusions. In the first chapter we discuss the connection between education and individual’s selfrealization. We start with a discussion on the indivisibility of these two concepts, drawing on the theoretical and philosophical discourses about the man and being, stating that the reason or intellect is the only thing that separates a man from an animal and therefore is perceived as a sole mechanism of realizing oneself as a human being. Hence, in order to realize himself and to avoid returning to the state of animalism, a man must constantly practice his mind (reason), always keeping in mind an ideal image of a human being. This image was formed in the idea of Good in the philosophies of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. They believed that pursuing the Good as the ultimate object of knowledge is the only way to determine one's own being. However, the Good could only be reached by practicing reason. By doing so, a man is released from primitive desires, transformed and self-determined. Based on these considerations, we conclude that the realization of man as a self-affirming personality is and should be the main purpose of education. In the second chapter, we present the idea of university by analyzing the philosophies of six most influential thinkers: Immanuel Kant, J. G. Fichte, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Wilhelm von Humboldt, John Henry Newman and Karl Jaspers. For them, the university represents the birthplace of an independent individual who cognitively matures and rationally determines himself through education. They base this idea on the very nature of man and his aspiration to know (or to develop his mind). The basic function of higher education, according to above mention humanists, is the development of a self-affirming and free personality. The preconditions for that are self-positioning, interaction and transformation. These represent the central dimensions of humanistic idea of the university and later will serve as a basis for the empirical study. More detailed, an individual can become self-affirming personality by, firstly, self-positioning, that is, establishing a relationship with oneself, i.e. by becoming aware of himself, which includes awareness of his intellectual, moral, social, cultural and other abilities and capabilities. In order to self-position himself, an individual must connect his Self with the world, that is, establish a relationship with others through interaction and dialogue. By connecting with others, he becomes a part of the scientific collectivity dedicated to the search and transmission of truth. As an outcome of this interaction, an individual develops something that Schleiermacher and Newman will call a scientific spirit and complements his fragmented knowledge, leading to the transformation of the individual as enlightened, rational and autonomous human being. In chapter three, we relate the concept of humanistic idea with the contemporary views on higher education, which are driven by scientific and technological development in a knowledge-based society. We start by explaining the third mission of university which brings together the idea of the higher education as a driver of positive changes that contribute to social development and the idea of higher education as a key element in economic growth and development. Within the third mission, we discuss two dominant missions of the university: civic and economic, focusing on the concept of the entrepreneurial university. Following that, we give a short historic overview on the changes in higher education in the United States of America and United Kingdom. We show that after World War II, both in USA and UK, the importance of higher education expanded due to realization that it can strengthen the (then weakened) national identity and help in responding to economic needs and societal demands. We explain that governments sought to restructure higher education and direct it to become an integral part of a productive economy, making university politically and strategically important. The influence of governmental ideas led to massification, privatization and commercialization of higher education, which transformed universities from a relatively autonomous institution that operated within a self-regulated code of collegiality to a bureaucratic business-like institution that competes for its customers. Further, we try to explain this changing shift in the orientation of the university by explaining the concepts of academic capitalism and neoliberalism. We show that these concepts were criticized by many because an idea of the university is considered to be inconsistent with the traditional understanding of the purpose of higher education and the role of the university as a place of emancipation of the individual. Then we discuss the impact of the changed vision of higher education on an individual, stating that the neoliberal view on education affected him and his attitude towards himself. We argue that the individual has become self-interested being motivated solely by self-preservation and self-interest under the influence of neoliberal paradigm. The individual has completely neglected his humanistic role and became an entrepreneur who indulges in the market without thinking outside the scope of his individual profession. More specifically, we argue that the individual perceive himself as a commodity to be sold on the market, meaning that he strives to maximize his knowledge, abilities and skills to achieve the highest well-being for himself. Doing so, he is no longer accompanied by the idea of a free and rational personality, but by the idea of market-suitable commodity. We conclude that the idea of the university as a mechanism for ensuring economic progress and competitiveness has resulted in educational crisis, and ultimately, in a crisis of human. In chapter four, we present some of the key legislative texts and strategic frameworks on higher education at a global, European and national level in order to examine which idea (humanistic or neoliberal) dominates the contemporary discussions on higher education. We examine texts such as Magna Charta Universitatum (1988), World Declaration on Higher Education for the Twenty-First Century: Vision and Action (1998), then continue with Memorandum on Higher Education in the European Community (1991), The Role of Universities in the Europe of Knowledge (2003), Reform of the universities in the framework of the Lisbon strategy (2005) and others. Then we examine the key frameworks on education in Croatia, starting from the White Paper on Croatian Education (2001) to Education, Science and Technology Strategy (2014) and Science and Higher Education Act (2017). Moreover, we examine the development strategies of five universities in Croatia (Zagreb, Osijek, Rijeka, Split and Zadar) to investigate whether there are differences between the universities in terms of visions and missions of higher education and how their idea of university relates to national and the European visions. Chapter V outlines the main results of the empirical research conducted within this dissertation. The purpose of the research was to expand the understanding of the role and tasks of the modern university in relation to the historical ideas of the university as a place of humanistic emancipation of the individual. The aim of the research was to determine the present and future orientation of the university by examining student attitudes. The assumption of the research was that the historical idea of the university as a place of humanistic emancipation in Croatia is nowadays more drawn to the idea of a neoliberal university, but that the humanistic idea is still reflected in teaching practice and relations between teachers and students. To confirm or reject this assumption we examined students' attitudes about the key dimensions of humanistic idea of university and the direction of university development. More specifically, we investigated to what extend the university contributed to the development of dimensions of the humanistic idea (rational and critical thinking, competences for personal development and social competence) and what is the perception of the direction of higher education and university development today. Moreover, we investigated the differences in attitudes on these two questions by field of study (biotechnical, biomedical and natural sciences; technical sciences and social sciences). The survey was conducted in the academic year 2018/2019 on a sample of 1043 1st year graduate students at the University of Zagreb. The sample included available students from 21 faculties in scientific fields within the six scientific fields (44.78% male respondents, 55.22% female respondents). The results show that the humanistic idea is partly reflected in teaching practice and teacher-student relationships, but that the university in Croatia is becoming increasingly market oriented.