The oldest universities in the world


There are universities that you can attend today that have been operational for centuries. These are higher learning institutions with a wealthy history. While some had to close their doors along the way, many have passed the test of time and are holding their own among more modern universities.

These ancient institutions keep expanding in order to accommodate modern conventions and avoid losing relevance. They are still considered highly prestigious and offer reputable services. Some of the oldest universities found today include the following.

University of Al-Karaouine – Morocco, 859 AD

This is the oldest degree-awarding university in operation. It has existed since 859 AD and has remained in operation for over a millennium. Founded by Fatima al-Fihri in Fes, Morocco, it was originally a community mosque and a learning institution with an emphasis on natural sciences. It has now evolved to include other subjects such as mathematics and foreign languages.

University of Bologna – Italy, 1088

Even though it received its royal charter from Frederick I in 1158, this institution has been around since the year 1088. Cited as the most ancient university in the Western world, it initially only offered canon and civil law. It is still operational, with more than a hundred thousand students in its current 23 schools.

Oxford University – United Kingdom, 1096

Oxford University became the first of its kind in the English speaking world when it opened its doors in 1096. Its development was boosted in 1167 after King Henry II restricted English students from enrolling in the University of Paris. This increased its size and it has since remained a top-ranking university in the world.

University of Salamanca – Spain, 1134

Founded in what was known as the Kingdom of Leòn at the time, this is earliest university in Spain. It is found west of Madrid in Castille and Leòn and was officially recognised by the royal decree of King Alfonso IV in 1218 after being in operation since 1134.

University of Cambridge – England, 1209

This university was founded by a group of scholars and students who broke away from Oxford University following the execution of two colleagues. The university received its royal charter from King Henry III in 1231, and enjoyed endorsement from three successive popes which added onto its success. It presently includes six schools and 31 colleges, with a high intake of international students.

University of Padua – Italy, 1222

Yet another early university from Italy, the University of Padua emerged when a section of professors and students left the University of Bologna due to ideological restrictions in 1222. The new school allowed them intellectual freedom and its alumni include famous astronomers Galileo and Copernicus. Originally a school of law and theology, more subjects were eventually added to the curriculum and it is now divided into two; one section concentrates on civil and canon law while the other deals with studies of astronomy, grammar, dialectic philosophy, medicine, and rhetoric.

These universities set the foundation of what is now university education and still continue to offer their services. With their history, they are desirable places of academic achievement and advancement.