Before the colonization of the Americas, the first and only universities were established and administrated in medieval Europe. The beginnings of many medieval universities are from the Christian cathedral schools, appearing around the 6th century and operating for hundreds of years before their official founding as a university in the later medieval period. This list is comprised of the five oldest universities in the world still in existence today. To satisfy the list, the university has to be established before 1500 in Europe or was the oldest university assumed from the medieval European classic in a province. Here we list the top 5 oldest colleges in the world:
University of Bologna, Italy
Founded in 1088, the University of Bologna was the first institute established for higher learning and awarding degrees in the Western world. As one of the oldest universities in the world to remain in continual operation, it is believed that the word “university” began with the creation of the institute.
The university guided the Western world into educational advances until after the first World War, building relationships with institutions in advanced countries to revolutionize and strengthen its scholastic philosophies.
University of Oxford, United Kingdom
While the precise date of the university’s establishment is unclear, there is an indication that teachings go back as far as 1096. In 1167, the university began to develop quickly, since Henry II forbade English students from enrolling at the University of Paris.
Today the number of notable scholars at the University of Oxford is lengthy and includes many who made a significant influence on British politics, science, medicine, and literature.
University of Paris, France
Although established in the mid-12th century, it was approximately between 1160 and 1170 before the University of Paris was formally recognized. Then in 1970, the institute was restructured into 13 independent universities and is now commonly referred to as the Sorbonne or La Sorbonne, after the university was founded by Robert de Sorbon in 1257.
Today, the historical Sorbonne building is home to four of the 13 autonomous universities derived from the University of Paris.
University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
In 1209, scholars that left Oxford after a disagreement with townspeople established the University of Cambridge; then in 1231, the university received its Royal charter from King Henry III.
By 1318, it was typical for scholars from other European medieval colleges to come and visit the university to study or give lectures. Today, the University of Cambridge has educated the most Nobel Prize winners than any other university in the world, 65 graduates have won the elite prize.
University of Salamanca, Spain
Founded in 1134 and given the Royal charter in 1218, the University of Salamanca is the oldest established university in Spain and the third oldest European university in continuous operation.
The University of Salamanca is located in the city of Salamanca, Spain, just west of Madrid in an independent community of Castilla and León. Today the university is an important institute for the study of humanities and is mainly well-known for its studies in language, law, and economics.
Title Image Source: Flickr/Christian Guthier