Since the 19th century, the teaching staff (professors and readers) of the University formed an academic community which undertook a series of practical and symbolic roles, both within and outside of the University.
In addition to their teaching, scientific and research work, both men and —from the 20th century onwards— women professors were active in the fields of politics and the press, worked in public and private organisations, founded and managed cultural associations.
Among them there were eminent personalities of the political, intellectual and scientific life of Greece.
It is also worth mentioning the numerous members of the special scientific staff (prefects, assistants, technicians etc.) who have been offering their services and knowledge with profound dedication to the University’s development, from then until now. Another fundamental aspect of the University's history is related to the members of its administrative staff, who ensure the University’s operation and foster its role as an educational and research centre.
The student movement emerged on the streets of Athens early on, raising demands related both to the University and to other aspects of society, and forming a dynamic component of public life.
The struggles of students during the early years of the Athens University operation were related to the Great Idea and the fight to overthrow King Otto. In recognition of their contribution to overthrowing King Otto, a University Phalanx was created in 1862, which was the first and only armed student corps.
In the late 19th century, students defended the archaic form of the Greek language (Katharevousa), engaging in vehement demonstrations against demotic Greek language, and participating in two of the most well-known riots in student history: the Evaggeliaka (1901) and the Orestiaka (1903).
The inter-war period witnessed the dawn of student trade-unionism and political factions as we know them, also due to the emergence of left-wing ideologies. Since then, students became much more involved in political life and more critical towards the University itself. During the Axis occupation, thousands of students participated in the struggle for Greece’s liberation.
In the post-war period, students took to the streets once more in order to protest for the Cyprus dispute and in the 60s they were a critical factor in the struggle for education and democracy. Their contribution to overthrowing the seven-year dictatorship by engaging in various forms of protest, such as the occupation of the Law School in February 1973, determined the strong presence of the student movement onwards.
The University started its course with a few dozen men students. In the decades that followed, the number of students gradually increased and their presence became more dynamic.
In 1890, the first woman, Ioanna Stephanopoli, was enrolled at the School of Philosophy, followed by a few more women in the next years. Since then, and especially since the 1960s, millions of men and women have passed from the auditoriums of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, finding their own place on the streets and in the life of Athens, student hangouts and literary pages.Their population is not uniform. They may all be students but their identities are different: men and women, people from all over Greece, from the Greek diaspora and from all over the world, from rich and poor, well-known and unknown families.
At the same time, the students of specific faculties took part in different political factions and associations. Students have always been an active group of people, with different stories, whose lives were connected to the University, in both good times and bad.