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From the history of its institution, Universitas Negeri Surabaya (UNESA) was originated from the forerunner of the integration of B-I and B-II courses in Surabaya into The Teacher Training and Education Faculty (hereinafter referred to as FKIP) in 1960. Later in 1961, FKIP was integrated with PTPG to become FKIP of Surabaya Branch of Airlangga University Malang. In 1963, FKIP Airlangga Surabaya was again integrated with Teacher Education Institute (IPG) to become the Institute of Teacher Training and Education (hereinafter referred to as IKIP). After IKIP was established, FKIP Malang became IKIP Malang and split from Airlangga University. At that time, IKIP had many branches, including Surabaya, Madiun, Singaraja and Kupang Branches. Surabaya Branch of FKIP Malang became Surabaya Branch of IKIP Malang.

Furthermore, based on the Decree of the Minister of Higher Education and Science No. 182 of 1964, IKIP Surabaya was established. The inauguration was held on 19 December 1964 at 08.00 WIB, at Jalan Kayoon 72-74 Surabaya. At that time, IKIP Surabaya had five faculties, namely (1) Faculty of Education (FIP), (2) Teaching Faculty of Social Sciences (FKIS), Teaching Faculty of Arts and Literatures (FKSS), (4) Teaching Faculty of Exact Sciences (FKIE), and (5) Teaching Faculty of Engineering (FKIT), and later added one more faculty, based on the Decree of the Minister of Education and Culture no. 042/O/1977, Sports High School was integrated into IKIP Surabaya under the name of the Teaching Faculty of Sports Science (FKIK).

Subsequently, there was a development so then the faculties changed their name to the Faculty of Education (FIP), Faculty of Language and Arts Education (FPBS), Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences Education (FPMIPA), Faculty of Social Science Education (FPIPS), Faculty of Technology and Vocational Education (FPTK) and Faculty of Sports and Health Education (FPOK).

Based on the Presidential Decree No. 93 of 1999, IKIP Surabaya later changed to Universitas Negeri Surabaya. In accordance with the decisions of the senate meeting on October 12, 1998, which agreed that the post-conversion name of the IKIP Surabaya is Universitas Negeri Surabaya (in Bahasa Indonesia), abbreviated as UNESA. And Universitas Negeri Surabaya in English.

UNESA is an institution that has a dual mission which still has a base as an Educational Personnel Education Institute (Bahasa Indonesia: Lembaga Pendidikan Tenaga Kependidikan /LPTK). UNESA continues to carry out its main mission, which is to organize educational and non-educational programs, so that UNESA commits to serve as a producer of educational personnel for preschool, basic and secondary education. In accordance with the Presidential Decree No. 93 of 1999, UNESA has the following duties:

Based on the expansion of the mandate and the changes, UNESA has six faculties that have also undergone a name change, namely the Faculty of Education (FIP), the Faculty of Languages and Arts (FBS), the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences (FMIPA), the Faculty of Social Sciences (FIS), Faculty of Engineering (FT) and Faculty of Sport Science (FIK).

In 2006 (seven years after the conversion), UNESA opened a new faculty, namely the Faculty of Economics. This is in accordance with the letter issued by the Director General of Higher Education no. 761/D/T/2006 concerning the establishment of the Faculty of Economics Unesa, dated February 16, 2006, and the Decree of the Rector of Unesa No. 050/J37/HK.01.23/PP.03.02/2006 concerning the separation of the Department of Economics and study programs from the Faculty of Social Sciences and the establishment of the Faculty of Economics on March 16, 2006. In 2015, several faculties changed their names, including: Faculty of Social Sciences (FIS) to the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law (FISH), the Faculty of Sports Science (FIK) became the Faculty of Sports Science (FIO). So that currently, UNESA has seven faculties.

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