List of oldest universities in continuous operation

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Map of medieval universities in Europe

This article contains a list of the oldest existing universities in continuous operation in the world. Inclusion in this list is determined by the date at which the educational institute met the traditional definition of a university[Note 1] although it may have existed as a different kind of institute before that time.[1] This definition limits the term "university" to institutions with distinctive structural and legal features that developed in Europe, and which make the university form different from other institutions of higher learning in the pre-modern world. Thus, for the list below, the university must have been founded before 1500 in Europe or be the oldest university derived from the medieval European model in a country or region. It must also be still in operation, with institutional continuity retained throughout its history, and so some early universities, most notably the University of Paris, which was abolished by the Revolution in 1793[2], are excluded. Some institutions re-emerge, but with new foundations, such as the modern University of Paris, which came into existence in 1896 after the Louis Liard law disbanded Napoleon's University of France system.

The word university is derived from the Latin: universitas magistrorum et scholarium, which approximately means "community of teachers and scholars". The term was coined by the Italian University of Bologna,[citation needed] which, with a traditional founding date of 1088, is considered to be the first university.[3][4] The origin of many medieval universities can be traced back to the Christian cathedral schools or monastic schools, which appeared as early as the 6th century and were run for hundreds of years as such before their formal establishment as universities in the high medieval period.[5]

Other institutions of higher learning, such as those of ancient Greece, ancient Persia, ancient Rome, Byzantium, ancient China, ancient India and the Islamic world, are not included in this list owing to their cultural, historical, structural and juristic dissimilarities from the medieval European university from which the modern university evolved.[Note 2][Note 3][8]

Medieval origins[edit]

The university as an institution was historically rooted in medieval society, which it in turn influenced and shaped:[8]

The university is a European institution; indeed, it is the European institution par excellence. There are various reasons for this assertion. As a community of teachers and taught, accorded certain rights, such as administrative autonomy and the determination and realisation of curricula (courses of study) and of the objectives of research as well as the award of publicly recognised degrees, it is a creation of medieval Europe, which was the Europe of papal Christianity [...].

Modern spread[edit]

From the early modern period onwards, the university gradually spread from the medieval Latin West across the globe, eventually replacing all other higher-learning institutions and becoming the preeminent institution for higher education everywhere. This process occurred in the following chronological order:[9]

  • Western Europe (from the 11th or 12th century)
  • Central and Eastern Europe (from the 14th or 15th century)
  • Americas (from the 16th century)
  • Australia (from the 19th century)
  • Asia and Africa (from the 19th or 20th century), with the exception of the Philippines, where the University of Santo Tomas was established in the 17th century.

Founded before 1500[edit]

Year University Location Notes
Original Current
1088 University of Bologna Corona ferrea monza (heraldry).svg Kingdom of Italy,
 Holy Roman Empire
Italy Bologna, Italy The oldest university in the world. A university in the sense of a higher-learning, degree-awarding institute, the word university (Latin: universitas) having been coined at its foundation. It received, in 1158, from Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa the "Authentica habita", which settled the rules, rights and privileges of universities.[10]
1096–1167
(charter granted in 1248)[11]
University of Oxford  Kingdom of England United Kingdom Oxford, United Kingdom The oldest university in the English-speaking world. Claims to have been founded between 1096 and 1167.[12] Rashdall takes 1167 as the date when Oxford became a studium generale.[13] Teaching was suspended in 1209 (due to the town's execution of two scholars) and in 1355 (due to the St. Scholastica Day riot), but was continuous during the English Civil War (1642–1651), when the University was Royalist. It was not until 1254 that Pope Innocent IV granted to Oxford a university charter by papal bull ("Querentes in agro").
1134 (charter granted in 1218) University of Salamanca Pennant of the Kingdom of León Kingdom of León Spain Salamanca, Spain The oldest university in the Hispanic world. The university claims to have been founded by Alfonso IX of León in 1218 (although James Trager's People's Chronology sets its foundation date as 1134), making it the third or fourth oldest university in continuous operation.[14] It was the first European university to receive the title of "University" as such, which was granted by the King of Castile and León, Alfonso X, and the Pope in 1254. After being excluded from the University in 1852 by the Spanish government, the Faculties of Theology and Canon Law became the Pontifical University of Salamanca in 1940.
1209
(charter granted in 1231)[15]
University of Cambridge  Kingdom of England United Kingdom Cambridge, United Kingdom Founded by scholars leaving Oxford after a dispute caused by the execution of two scholars in 1209. Its royal charter was granted in 1231.[16] The University takes 1209 as its official anniversary.[17] Inspired the establishment of Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, with the first college in the United States, Harvard University named after one of Cambridge University's alumni, John Harvard.
1222
(probably older)
University of Padua Lombard League arms.svg Lombard League Italy Padua, Italy Founded by scholars and professors after leaving Bologna.[18]
1224 (1258) University of Naples Federico II King Manfred of Sicily Arms.svg Kingdom of Sicily Italy Naples, Italy The first public university,[19] founded by Frederick II, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. The university moved to Salerno in 1253, and its return to Naples in 1258 is sometimes considered as a refoundation.
1290 University of Coimbra[20] Armas portugal 1247.png Kingdom of Portugal
Portugal Coimbra, Portugal It began its existence in Lisbon with the name Studium Generale (Estudo Geral). Scientiae thesaurus mirabilis ("the admirable treasure of knowledge"), the royal charter announcing the institution of the University, was dated 1 March 1290, although efforts had been made since at least 1288 to create this first university in Portugal. Papal confirmation was also given in 1290 (on 9 August of that year), during the papacy of Pope Nicholas IV.
1290 University of Macerata[20] Coat of arms of the Papal States Papal States Italy Macerata, Italy Founded in 1290, possibly as a private law school rather than a university. Unknown whether this was in continuous operation, but there is evidence for a school (without degree awarding powers) in 1518. After petitions from the commune to the Pope from 1534, bull establishing a studium generale issued in 1540.[21]
By 1293 University of Valladolid Escudo de la Corona de Castilla.svg Kingdom of Castile Spain Valladolid, Spain Founded in the late 13th century (first documentary evidence 1293), probably by the city.[22][23]
1293 University of Alcalá Pennant of the Crown of Castile Crown of Castile Spain Alcalá de Henares, Spain The University of Alcalá was founded by King Sancho IV of Castile as Studium Generale in 1293 in Alcalá de Henares. It was granted a papal bull in 1499, and quickly gained international fame thanks to the patronage of Cardinal Cisneros and the production of the Complutensian Polyglot Bible in 1517, which is the basis for most current translations. The University moved to Madrid in 1836 by royal decree as Universidad Central. The Moyano Law of 1857 established Central as the sole university in Spain authorized to confer the title of Doctor on any scholar. This law remained in effect until 1969. In 1970, Universidad Central de Madrid changed its name to Universidad Complutense de Madrid, its present name. On the other side, the Universidad de Alcalá was restored in Alcalá de Henares in 1977.
1303 Sapienza University of Rome Coat of arms of the Papal States Papal States Italy Rome, Italy Founded by Pope Boniface VIII, but became a state university in 1935.
1308 University of Perugia Coat of arms of the Papal States Papal States Italy Perugia, Italy Attested by the Bull of Pope Clement V.
1321 University of Florence Coat of arms of the Republic of Florence Republic of Florence Italy Florence, Italy The University of Florence evolved from the Studium Generale, which was established by the Florentine Republic in 1321. The Studium was recognized by Pope Clement VI in 1349.
1343 University of Pisa Coat of arms of the Republic of Pisa Republic of Pisa Italy Pisa, Italy It was formally founded on September 3, 1343 by an edict of Pope Clement VI, although there had been lectures on law in Pisa since the 11th century. Nowadays is one of the most important universities in Italy.
1348 Charles University of Prague Coat of arms of the Kingdom of Bohemia Kingdom of Bohemia Czech Republic Prague, Czech Republic Three of four faculties closed in 1419, joined with Jesuit university and renamed Charles-Ferdinand University in 1652, split into German and Czech part in 1882, Czech branch closed during Nazi occupation (1939–1945), German branch closed in 1945.[24]
1357 University of Siena Coat of arms of Siena Republic of Siena Italy Siena, Italy Claims to have been founded in 1240 by the Commune of Siena,[25] although Rashdall dates the proclamation of the Studium to 1246, when Frederick II tried to place a ban on scholars travelling to Bologna. Was granted some exemptions from taxes by Pope Innocent II in 1252, but closed shortly after when the scholars returned to Bologna. Attempted revivals in 1275 and (fed by further short-lived migrations of scholars from Bologna) in 1321 and 1338 were unsuccessful. Gained an Imperial Bull in 1357 "granting it de novo the 'privileges of a Studium Generale.'", but was not firmly established until "[i]n 1408 a fresh grant of privileges was obtained from Pope Gregory XII".[26] Closed temporarily in 1808–1815 when Napoleonic forces occupied Tuscany.[25] On November 7, 2015 the University celebrated its 775th anniversary.
1361 University of Pavia House of ViscontiDomain of the House of Visconti Italy Pavia, Italy Closed for short periods during the Italian Wars, Napoleonic wars, and Revolutions of 1848.
1364 Jagiellonian University Coat of arms of Poland Kingdom of Poland Poland Kraków, Poland Founded by Casimir the Great under the name Studium Generale, and was commonly referred to as the Kraków Academy. The institution's development stalled upon the king's death in 1370; primarily due to a lack of funding. Without a permanent location; lectures were held across the city at various churches and in the Kraków Cathedral School. Further development again resumed in the 1390s, by the initiative of King Władysław Jagiełło and his wife Jadwiga of Poland; at which point the school became a fully functioning university with a permanent location. The university was forcibly shut down during the German Occupation of Poland (1939–1945). The staff was deported to Nazi concentration camps, and many of its collections were deliberately destroyed by the occupying German authorities. Within a month after the liberation of the city, the university again re-opened; with some of the original pre-war staff who survived the occupation.
1365 University of Vienna  Holy Roman Empire Austria Vienna, Austria Modelled on the University of Paris.
1386 Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg  Holy Roman Empire Germany Heidelberg, Germany Founded by Rupert I, Elector Palatine. The oldest in contemporary Germany and third oldest Germanophone university.
1391 University of Ferrara House of EsteHouse of Este Italy Ferrara, Italy Founded by Marquis Alberto d'Este.
1404 University of Turin  Duchy of Savoy Italy Turin, Italy Founded by the prince "Louis of Piedmont" during the reign of Amadeus VIII.
1409 University of Leipzig  Holy Roman Empire Germany Leipzig, Germany Founded when German-speaking staff left Prague due to the Jan Hus crisis.
1413 University of St. Andrews  Kingdom of Scotland United Kingdom St. Andrews, United Kingdom A school of higher studies was founded in 1410 and became a full university by the issue of a Papal bull in 1413.[27]
1419 University of Rostock  Holy Roman Empire Germany Rostock, Germany During the Reformation, "the Catholic university of Rostock closed altogether and the closure was long enough to make the refounded body feel a new institution".[28] The university closed in 1523,[29] but would appear to have reopened by 1551, when there are records of a number of professors being appointed, including Johannes Aurifaber, David Chytraeus, and Johann Draconites (de).[30][31]
1434 University of Catania Kingdom of the Two Sicilies Kingdom of Sicily Italy Catania, Italy The oldest in Sicily. Founded by Alfonso V of Aragon.
1450[32] University of Barcelona Standard of the Crown of Aragon Crown of Aragon Spain Barcelona, Spain Founded by Alfonso V of Aragon as Estudi general de Barcelona after the unification of all university education. For forty-nine years prior to that foundation, however, the city had had a fledgling medical school founded by King Martin of Aragon, and in the 13th century Barcelona already possessed several civil and ecclesiastical schools.
1451 University of Glasgow  Kingdom of Scotland United Kingdom Glasgow, United Kingdom Founded by a Papal bull.
1456 University of Greifswald  Holy Roman Empire Germany Greifswald, Germany Teaching had started by 1436. Founded by initiative of Heinrich Rubenow, Lord Mayor of Greifswald (and first rector), with approval of Pope Callixtus III and Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, under the protection of Wartislaw IX, Duke of Pomerania. Teaching paused temporarily during the Protestant Reformation (1527–39).
1457 Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg  Holy Roman Empire Germany Freiburg, Germany Temporarily transferred to Constance in 1686–98 and 1713–15.
1460 University of Basel  Holy Roman Empire Switzerland Basel, Switzerland Founded in 1460 (Schola Basiliensis), the University of Basel is the oldest university in Switzerland.[33]
1472 Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich  Holy Roman Empire Germany Munich, Germany Founded in Ingolstadt in 1472; with a Papal Bull obtained in 1459 from Pope Pius II by Louis the Rich,[34] transferred to Landshut in 1800, moved to Munich in 1826.
1477 Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen  Holy Roman Empire Germany Tübingen, Germany
1477 Uppsala University  Kingdom of Sweden within the
 Kalmar Union
Sweden Uppsala, Sweden Uppsala's bull, which granted the university its corporate rights, was issued by Pope Sixtus IV in 1477, and established a number of provisions. Among the most important of these was that the university was officially given the same freedoms and privileges as the University of Bologna.
1479 University of Copenhagen  Kingdom of Denmark within the
 Kalmar Union
Denmark Copenhagen, Denmark The University of Copenhagen is the oldest university in Denmark, and the second oldest in Scandinavia after Uppsala University in Sweden
1481 University of Genoa  Republic of Genoa Italy Genoa, Italy Founded in 1481 (Genuense Athenaeum).
1495 University of Aberdeen  Kingdom of Scotland United Kingdom Aberdeen, United Kingdom King's College was founded by a Papal bull in 1495 and then Marischal College in 1593; they merged in 1860.
1495 University of Santiago de Compostela Pennant of the Crown of Castile Galicia, Crown of Castile Spain Santiago de Compostela, Spain The university traces its roots to 1495, when a school was opened in Santiago.[35] In 1504, Pope Julius II approved the foundation of a university in Santiago, and the bull for its creation was granted by Clement VII in 1526.
1499 University of Valencia Standard of the Crown of Aragon Crown of Aragon Spain Valencia, Spain

Oldest universities by country or region after 1500 still in operation[edit]

The majority of European countries had universities by 1500. After 1500, universities began to spread to other countries all over the world. Note that many universities were established at institutes of learning such as schools and colleges that may have been founded significantly earlier but were not classed as universities upon their foundation; this is normally described in the notes for that institution.

Africa[edit]

Location Current name Year Notes
Current Original
 Algeria
(Algiers)
France French Algeria
(Algiers)
University of Algiers 1909
 Angola
(Luanda)
Portugal Portuguese Angola
(Luanda)
Agostinho Neto University 1962 Founded as Estudos Gerais Universitários de Angola. Was renamed Universidade de Luanda (University of Luanda) in 1968. After Angolan independence from Portugal in 1975, the institution was renamed the University of Angola (Universidade de Angol). In 1985 it was renamed Agostinho Neto University, in honour of Agostinho Neto, the first President of Angola.
 Cameroon
(Yaoundé)
 Cameroon
(Yaoundé)
University of Yaoundé 1962 In 1993 following a university reform the University of Yaounde was split into two (University of Yaoundé I and University of Yaoundé II) following the university branch-model pioneered by the University of Paris.
 Cape Verde
(Praia)
 Cape Verde
(Praia)
Jean Piaget University of Cape Verde 2001 as a result of the merger of the two previously existing higher education establishments (ISE and ISECMAR)
 Egypt
(Giza)
Egypt Khedivate of Egypt
(Cairo)
Cairo University 1908 The oldest university in Africa
 Ethiopia
(Addis Ababa)
Ethiopia Ethiopian Empire
(Addis Ababa)
University of Addis Ababa 1950 The university was originally called the University College of Addis Ababa in 1950 and was later renamed Haile Selassie I University in 1962 after the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I. The institution received its current name in 1975.
 Ghana
(Accra)
 Gold Coast
(Accra)
University of Ghana 1948[36] Founded as the University College of the Gold Coast, an affiliate college of the University of London which supervised its academic programmes and awarded the degrees. It gained full university status in 1961.
 Kenya
(Nairobi)
 Kenya
(Nairobi)
University of Nairobi 1956
(university 1970)
Oldest in Kenya. Established 1956 as the Royal Technical College. Renamed the Royal College of Nairobi when it became affiliated to the University of London 1961. On 20 May 1964, was renamed University College Nairobi when it was admitted as a constituent college of inter-territorial University of East Africa. In 1970, it transformed into the first national university in Kenya and was renamed the University of Nairobi.[37]
 Kenya
(Njoro)
Flag of British East Africa.svg Colony and Protectorate of Kenya
(Njoro)
Egerton University 1939
(university 1987)
Claims to be "the oldest institution of higher learning in Kenya". Founded as a farm school 1939, Egerton Farm School. Upgraded to an agricultural college in 1950, Egerton Agricultural College, then a college of the University of Nairobi in 1986 before becoming an independent university by Act of Parliament in 1987.[38]
 Liberia
(Monrovia)
 Liberia
(Monrovia)
University of Liberia 1951 building on Liberia College founded in 1863
 Libya
(Benghazi & Tripoli)
Libya Kingdom of Libya
(Benghazi)
University of Libya 1956 A royal decree was issued on 15 December 1955 for the founding of the university. The first faculty to be formed was the Faculty of Literature in Benghazi, and the royal palace "Al Manar", from which King Idris I of Libya declared its independence on 24 December 1951, was assigned to be the campus. Later divided to University of Benghazi and University of Tripoli, the names were changed again during Gaddafi's era, but now they have reinstated their original names.
 Madagascar
(Antananarivo)
France Colony of Madagascar and Dependencies
(Antananarivo)
University of Antananarivo 1955 Founded December 1955 as the Institute for Advanced Studies in Antananarivo. Renamed the University of Madagascar in 1961.
 Mauritius
(Moka)
Mauritius British Mauritius
(Moka)
University of Mauritius 1965 The Faculty of Agriculture is the oldest faculty of the university. It was founded in 1914 as the School of Agriculture in 1914, and in 1966 it was incorporated into the newly established University of Mauritius.
 Morocco
(Fez, Marrakech, Tétouan, Agadir)
 Morocco
(Fez)
University of Al Quaraouiyine 859
(university 1965)
traces its origins back to the al-Qarawiyyin mosque and associated madrasa founded by Fatima al-Fihri in 859, but only became a university in 1965.
 Morocco
(Rabat)
 Morocco
(Rabat)
Mohammed V University 1957 Founded as University of Rabat
 Morocco
(Casablanca)
 Morocco
(Casablanca)
University of Hassan II Casablanca 1975
 Mozambique
(Maputo)
Portugal Portuguese Mozambique
(Lourenço Marques)
Eduardo Mondlane University 1962 Estudos Gerais Universitários de Moçambique
 Nigeria
(Ibadan)
Flag of British Colonial Nigeria.svg Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria
(Yaba, Lagos)
University of Ibadan 1948
(university 1962)
Founded as Yaba College in 1932 in Yaba, Lagos, as the first tertiary educational institute in Nigeria. Yaba College was transferred to Ibadan, becoming the University College of Ibadan, in 1948.[39] and was a university college associated with the University of London. Independent university since 1962.[40]
 Nigeria
(Nsukka, Enugu, Ituku, Aba)
 Nigeria
(Nsukka)
University of Nigeria, Nsukka 1960[41] First university in Nigeria.
 Rwanda
(Kigali)
 Rwanda
(Kigali)
University of Rwanda 2013 Incorporates the National University of Rwanda founded in 1963
 Sierra Leone
(Freetown)
 Sierra Leone
(Freetown)
Fourah Bay College 1827
(university 1967)
Oldest university-level institution in Africa. Founded as a school in 1827. Became an affiliated college of Durham University in 1876 and awarded first degrees in Africa in 1878. Became part of the federal University of Sierra Leone in 1967.[42][43]
 Somalia
(Mogadishu)
 British Somaliland
(Mogadishu)
Somali National University 1954
 South Africa
(Cape Town)
Union of South Africa Union of South Africa
(Cape Town)
University of Cape Town 1918 founded as a school in 1829 (university status: 2 April 1918)[44]
 South Africa
(Stellenbosch)
Union of South Africa Union of South Africa
(Stellenbosch)
Stellenbosch University 1918 founded as a secondary education institute in 1866 (University status: 2 April 1918)
 Sudan
(Khartoum)
 Sudan
(Khartoum)
University of Khartoum 1956[45] Renamed from Gordon Memorial College, founded 1902, when it gained full university status in 1956
 Tunisia
(Tunis)
 Tunisia
(Tunis)
University of Ez-Zitouna 1300
(university 1961)
traces its origins back to the Al-Zaytuna madrassa founded around 737 AH (1300-1350 CE) (university status in 1961)
 Uganda
(Kampala)
Flag of the Uganda Protectorate.svg British Protectorate of Uganda
(Kampala)
Makerere University 1922
 Zimbabwe
(Harare)
 Southern Rhodesia
(Salisbury)
University of Zimbabwe 1952

Asia[edit]

Location Current name Year Notes
Current Original
 Afghanistan
(Kabul)
Afghanistan Kingdom of Afghanistan
(Kabul)
Kabul University 1931 Founded in 1931, formally opened 1932.
 Bahrain
(Sakhir, Isa Town)
 Bahrain
(Sakhir, Isa Town)
University of Bahrain 1986
 Bangladesh
(Dhaka)
 British Raj
(Dhaka, Eastern Bengal and Assam)
University of Dhaka 1921 First university in Bangladesh, opened 1 July 1921.[46]
 Cambodia
(Phnom Penh)
Cambodia French Protectorate of Cambodia
(Phnom Penh)
Royal University of Fine Arts 1918
 China
(Nanjing )
Qing dynasty Qing Empire
(Nanking)
Nanjing University 1888 Known in Chinese as Jinling University (金陵大学). Was a private university later merged with the public University of Nanjing (南京大学). First institution in China to use the English term "university". Educational institutions were closed in China on June 13, 1966 due to the Cultural Revolution, reopening in July 1967.[47]
 China
(Wuhan)
Qing dynasty Qing Empire
(Wuchang)
Wuhan University 1893 Opened in 1893 as the Ziqiang Institute (自強學堂). Educational institutions were closed in China on June 13, 1966 due to the Cultural Revolution, reopening in July 1967.[48]
 China
(Tianjin )
Qing dynasty Qing Empire
(Tientsin)
Tianjin University 1895 Established in 1895 as Tientsin University/Imperial Tientsin University (Chinese: 天津北洋西學學堂/天津北洋西学学堂). Educational institutions were closed in China on June 13, 1966 due to the Cultural Revolution, reopening in July 1967.[49]
 China
(Hangzhou)
Qing dynasty Qing Empire
(Hangzhou)
Zhejiang University 1897 Opened in 1885 as the Qiushi Institute (求是书院). Later renamed to National Chekiang University, National 3rd Sun Yat-sen University, and eventually to Zhejiang University.
 China
(Beijing)
Qing dynasty Qing Empire
(Peking)
Peking University 1898 Founded in 1898 as Imperial Capital University or Imperial University of Peking Educational institutions were closed in China on June 13, 1966 due to the Cultural Revolution, reopening in July 1967.[50]
 Hong Kong  Hong Kong The University of Hong Kong 1911 founded as the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese in 1887, incorporated as a university in 1911
 India
(Serampore)
Denmark Danish India
(Serampore )
Serampore College 1818 (university 1827) Incorporated and granted university status and the right to award degrees by royal charter of Frederick VI of Denmark on 23 February 1827, endorsed by the Bengal Government Act 1918.[51]
 India
(Kolkata)
 British Raj
(Calcutta, Bengal Presidency)
University of Calcutta 1857 First full-fledged multi-disciplinary university in South Asia. The University of Bombay and the University of Madras were subsequently established in the same year
 India
(Mumbai)
 British Raj
(Bombay, Bombay Presidency)
University of Mumbai 1857 Called the University of Bombay until 1996.
 India
(Chennai)
 British Raj
(Madras, Madras Presidency)
University of Madras 1857
 India
(Allahabad)
 British Raj
(Allahabad, North-Western Provinces)
University of Allahabad 1887 At one point it was called the "Oxford of the East".On 24 June 2005 its Central University status was restored through the University Allahabad Act 2005
 Indonesia  Indonesia University of Indonesia 1947 founded as the School of Javanese Doctor in 1851
 Indonesia  Indonesia Bandung Institute of Technology 1959 founded as Technische Hogeschool in 1920
 Iraq Iraq Kingdom of Iraq University of Baghdad 1956 the Iraqi Royal College of Medicine was established in 1928
 Iran Iran Imperial State of Persia University of Tehran 1934 founded by Rezā Shāh, incorporating portions of the Dar ul-Funun Polytechnic Institute (1851) and the Tehran School of Political Sciences (1899)
 Israel  Ottoman Empire Technion - Israel Institute of Technology 1912 founded in 1912, but formal teaching began in 1924
 Israel FranceUnited Kingdom Occupied Enemy Territory Administration Hebrew University of Jerusalem 1918
 Japan  Empire of Japan University of Tokyo 1877 Previous names are University of Tokyo (1877–1886), Imperial University (1886–1897), and Tokyo Imperial University (1897–1947). Its origins include a private college of Confucian studies founded by Hayashi Razan in 1630,[52] Tenmonkata (The Observatory, 1684)[53] and Shutōsho (Smallpox Vaccination Centre, 1849).[54]
The university was established in 1877 by the merger of three institutions: Shoheiko (Japanese and Chinese Literature, established 1789), Yogakusho (Occidental Studies, established 1855) and Shutosho (Vaccinations, established 1860), originally as Tokyo University before becoming the Imperial University and then Tokyo Imperial University before reverting to its original name after World War II.[55]
 Japan  Empire of Japan Keio University 1920 Founded as a "school for Dutch studies" in 1858. College with three university departments (literature, law and economics) established 1890. Accredited as a university by the Japanese government in 1920.[56] (To be noted, Japan's oldest academic institution is Ashikaga Gakko)[citation needed]
 Japan  Empire of Japan Ryukoku University 1922 Traces its origins to a school for Buddhist monks of the Nishi Hongan-ji denomination founded in 1639. Assumed its current name and became a university under the University Ordinance in 1922.[57]
 Jordan  Jordan University of Jordan 1962
 Kazakhstan  Soviet Union
(Kazakh Autonomous Socialist Soviet Republic)
Al-Farabi Kazakh National University 1933
 Lebanon  Ottoman Empire American University of Beirut 1866
 Lebanon  Ottoman Empire Saint Joseph University 1872
 Lebanon  Ottoman Empire Université La Sagesse 1875
 Macau  Macau University of Macau 1981 established as University of East Asia in 1981, renamed 1991
 Malaysia  Malaysia University of Malaya 1981 established as Straits and Federated Malay States Government Medical School in 1905 in Singapore
 Mongolia Flag of Mongolia (1911-1921).svg Mongolia Mongolian Academy of Sciences 1921 Institute of Literature and Script
 Mongolia Mongolia Mongolian People's Republic Institute of finance and economics of Mongolia 1924 School of Custom's Officers in Ulaanbaatar
 Mongolia Flag of the People's Republic of Mongolia (1940-1945).png Mongolian People's Republic National University of Mongolia 1942
 Myanmar  Burma Rangoon University 1878[58]
   Nepal    Nepal Tribhuvan University 1959[59]
 North Korea Soviet Union Korea
(Provisional People's Committee for North Korea)
Kim Il-sung University 1946
 Pakistan  British Raj
(Punjab)
University of the Punjab 1882 Established by British colonial authorities in 1882 as the first university in what would become Pakistan.[60]
 Pakistan  British Raj
(Punjab)
King Edward Medical University 1860 (university 2005) Established as King Edward Medical College, Lahore in 1860. Became an independent university in 2005.[61]
 Pakistan  British Raj
(Punjab)
Government College University, Lahore 1864 (university 2002) Established as Government College, Lahore, 1864. Became an independent university in 2002.[62]
 Philippines Spanish Empire Spanish East Indies University of Santo Tomas 1611 Founded on 28 April 1611 by the Order of Preachers, it is the oldest extant university in Asia. Receiving the Royal Charter from King Phillip III of Spain in 1611, it was elevated by Pope Innocent X as a Pontifical University on November 20, 1645. The university celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2011.
 Philippines Spanish Empire Spanish East Indies Ateneo de Manila University 1859 First established as the Escuela Municipal de Manila by the Society of Jesus.
 Saudi Arabia  Saudi Arabia King Saud University 1957
 Singapore  Straits Settlements National University of Singapore 1905 Founded as Straits and Federated Malay States Government Medical School
 South Korea  South Korea Ewha Womans University 1946 started higher education in 1910, and was reorganized as Ewha Womans University in 1946. It was established in 1886 as the first mission school to educate women in Korea
 South Korea  South Korea Korea University 1946 then Boseong School, was established in 1905, and was restructured as Korea University in 1946
 South Korea  South Korea Sungkyunkwan University 1946 reorganized as Sungkyunkwan University in 1946. Sungkyunkwan, its origin, was established in 1398 as the royal institution for higher education of the Joseon Dynasty
 South Korea  South Korea Yonsei University 1946 The Yonsei University Medical School was established in 1886 at Chejungwon Hospital (established the previous year as Gwanghyewon Hospital). The medical school was renamed Severance Medical College in 1909, following a donation from Louis Severance. Yonhi College was established in Chosun Christian College in 1915 and became Yonhi College in 1917. Yonhi College was recognised as a university in August 1946. Yonsei University was formed by the merger of the college and medical school in 1957.[63]
 Sri Lanka  British Ceylon University of Colombo 1942 Formed in 1942 as the University of Ceylon by the amalgamation of University College Colombo (established 1921) and Ceylon Medical College (established in 1870). Was part of the University of Sri Lanka 1972-1978.[64]
 Syria Flag of the State of Damascus.svg State of Damascus University of Damascus 1923 founded in 1923 through the merger of the School of Medicine (established 1903) and the Institute of Law (established 1913)
 Taiwan Flag of the Republic of China (1912-1928).svg Republic of China National Taipei University of Technology 1912 School of Industrial Instruction
 Taiwan Empire of Japan Japanese Taiwan National Taiwan University 1928 Taihoku (Taipei) Imperial University
 Thailand  Thailand Chulalongkorn University 1917
 Thailand  Thailand Thammasat University 1939
 Timor-Leste  Timor-Leste National University of East Timor 2000
 Vietnam  French Indochina Hanoi Medical University 1902
 Vietnam  French Indochina Vietnam National University, Hanoi 1904

Europe[edit]

While Europe had 143 universities in 1789, the Napoleonic wars took a heavy toll, reducing the number to 83 by 1815. The universities of France were abolished[2] and over half of the universities in both Germany and Spain were destroyed. By the mid 19th century, Europe had recovered to 98 universities.[65]

Location Current name Year Notes
Current Original
 Albania
(Tirana)
 Albania
(Tirana)
University of Tirana 1957 originally established in 1957 as the State University of Tirana through merging of five existing institutes of higher education, the most important of which was the Institute of Sciences, founded in 1947
 Albania
(Shkodër)
 Albania
(Shkodër)
University of Shkodër "Luigj Gurakuqi" 1957
 Armenia
(Yerevan)
Armenia First Republic of Armenia
(Alexandropol)
Yerevan State University 1919
 Austria
(Graz)
 Holy Roman Empire
(Graz)
University of Graz 1622 founded in 1585 by Archduke Charles II of Austria
 Austria
(Salzburg)
 Holy Roman Empire
(Salzburg)
University of Salzburg 1585 also known as Paris Lodron University after its founder, Prince-Archbishop Paris von Lodron
 Austria
(Innsbruck)
 Holy Roman Empire
(Innsbruck)
University of Innsbruck 1669
 Azerbaijan
(Baku)
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan Democratic Republic
(Baku)
Baku State University 1919 In 1930, the government ordered the University shut down in accordance with a reorganization of higher education, and the University was replaced with the Supreme Pedagogical Institute. In 1934 the University was reestablished.
 Belgium
(Ghent)
Netherlands United Kingdom of the Netherlands
(Ghent)
Ghent University 1817 established in 1817 by William I of the Netherlands
 Belgium
(Liège)
Netherlands United Kingdom of the Netherlands
(Liège)
University of Liège 1817 was founded in 1817 by William I of the Netherlands
 Belgium
(Leuven)
 Belgium
(Mechelen)
KU Leuven and
Université catholique de Louvain
1834 Founded as the Catholic University of Mechelen on November 8, 1834 by the bishops of Belgium. Moved to Leuven on 1 December 1835, where it took the name Catholic University of Louvain.[Note 4] In 1968, it split to form two institutions: Dutch-speaking Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and French-speaking Université catholique de Louvain.
 Belgium
(Brussels)
 Belgium
(Brussels)
Université libre de Bruxelles
and Vrije Universiteit Brussel
1834 Founded in 1834 as the Université libre de Belgique (Free University of Belgium). In 1836, it changed its name to Université libre de Bruxelles. On 1 October 1969, the university was split into two sister institutions: the French-speaking Université Libre de Bruxelles and the Dutch-speaking Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Both names mean Free University of Brussels in English, so neither uses the English translation as it is ambiguous.
 Bosnia and Herzegovina
(Sarajevo)
 Yugoslavia
(Sarajevo)
University of Sarajevo 1949
 Bulgaria
(Sofia)
Bulgaria Principality of Bulgaria
(Sofia)
Sofia University 1888
 Bulgaria
(Sofia)
Bulgaria Kingdom of Bulgaria
(Sofia)
University of National and World Economy 1920 was founded in 1920 as the Free University of Political and Economic Sciences (FUPES)
 Bulgaria
(Varna)
Bulgaria Kingdom of Bulgaria
(Varna)
University of Economics Varna 1920 was originally known as the Higher School of Commerce
 Croatia
(Zagreb)
 Kingdom of Croatia (Habsburg)
(Zagreb)
University of Zagreb 1669 History of the University began on September 23, 1669, when the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I issued a decree granting the establishment of the Jesuit Academy of the Royal Free City of Zagreb. Decree was accepted at the Council of the Croatian Kingdom on November 3, 1671.
 Czech Republic
(Olomouc)
Bohemia Kingdom of Bohemia
(Olomouc)
Palacký University 1573 originally known as Olomouc Jesuit University
 Czech Republic
(Prague)
Bohemia Kingdom of Bohemia
(Prague)
Czech Technical University in Prague 1707 established as the Institute of Engineering Education in 1707 it is the oldest non-military technical university in Europe
 Denmark
(Copenhagen)
 Denmark
(Copenhagen)
Technical University of Denmark 1829 was founded in 1829 as the 'College of Advanced Technology'
 Estonia
(Tartu)
Sweden Kingdom of Sweden
(Dorpat)
University of Tartu 1632 (continuous operation since 1802) founded as The Academia Gustaviana in the then Swedish province of Livonia. It was closed from 1710 to 1802.
 Finland
(Helsinki)
Sweden Kingdom of Sweden
(Åbo)
University of Helsinki 1640 founded as the Royal Academy of Turku (Swedish: Kungliga Akademin i Åbo. It was shut down by the Great Fire of Turku in 1827. The University of Helsinki was founded the next year, in 1828, and it started operating in 1829. The University of Helsinki sees itself as continuation of the Royal Academy of Turku.
 France
(Paris)
 Kingdom of France
(Paris)
Sorbonne University (group) 1160-1250 (continuous operation since 1896) Emerged around 1150 as a corporation associated with the cathedral school of Notre Dame de Paris, it was considered the second-oldest university in Europe. Officially chartered in 1200 by King Philip II (Philippe-Auguste) of France and recognised in 1215 by Pope Innocent III, it was often nicknamed after its theology collegiate institution, College of Sorbonne, founded about 1257 by Robert de Sorbon and charted by Saint Louis, King of France. It was abolished in 1793 by the French Revolution[2], and was replaced by Napoléon on 1 May 1806 by the University of France system. In 1896 the Law of Liard allowed the founding of a new University of Paris. In 1970, it split into 13 separate universities and numerous specialised institutions of higher education. In 2018, Sorbonne University will be formed from the Paris-Sorbonne University (created from the faculty of humanities of the University of Paris) and Pierre and Marie Curie University (created from the faculty of science and medicine of the University of Paris). Panthéon-Assas University (from the faculty of law and economics) and University of Technology of Compiègne, already members of the Sorbonne University group, may follow the merge.[66][67]
 France
(Occitanie)
Arms of Languedoc.svg County of Toulouse
(Toulouse)
Université fédérale de Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées 1229 (continuous operation since 1896) Founded by papal bull in 1229 as the University of Toulouse. It closed in 1793 due to the French Revolution, and reopened in 1896. In 1969, it split into three separate universities and numerous specialised institutions of higher education. It no longer represents a single university, as it is now the collective entity which federates the universities and specialised institutions of higher education in the region.
 France
(Montpellier)
Royal Coat and Shield of Majorca c.1276-14th Century.svg Kingdom of Majorca
(Montpellier)
University of Montpellier
Paul Valéry University Montpellier 3
1289 (continuous operation since 1896) The world's oldest medicine faculty was established before 1137 and operated continuously through the French Revolution. University by Papal Bull in 1289. It closed in 1793 due to the French Revolution, and reopened in 1896. The university of Montpellier was officially re-organised in 1969 after the students' revolt. It was split into its successor institutions the University of Montpellier 1 (comprising the former faculties of medicine, law, and economy), Montpellier 2 (science and technology) and Montpellier 3 (social sciences, humanities and liberal arts). On 1 January 2015, the University of Montpellier 1 and the University of Montpellier 2 merged to form the newly recreated University of Montpellier.[68][69] Meanwhile, the Paul Valéry University Montpellier 3 remains a separate institution.
 France
(Aix-en-Provence,
Marseille)
Blason province fr Provence.svg Provence
(Aix)
Aix-Marseille University 1409 (continuous operation since 1896) Founded in 1409 as the University of Provence, and in 1792, dissolved, along with twenty-one other universities. In 1896 it was reformed as the University of Aix-Marseille, one of 17 self-governing regional universities financed by the state. In 1968 it was divided into two institutions, the University of Provence (Aix-Marseille I) as a school of languages and letters, and the University of Aix-Marseille (Aix-Marseille II) as primarily a school of medicine and sciences. In 1973 the University of Law, Economics and Science (Aix-Marseille III) was added. In 2012 the three universities merged and was renamed Aix-Marseille University.
 Germany
(Wittenberg
Halle)
 Holy Roman Empire
(Wittenberg)
Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg 1502 created in 1502 as the University of Wittenberg. Merged with University of Halle (founded 1691) in 1817.
 Germany
(Marburg)
 Holy Roman Empire
(Marburg)
Philipps University of Marburg 1527
 Germany
(Jena)
 Holy Roman Empire
(Jena)
University of Jena 1558 founded as Ducal Pan-Saxon University (German: Herzoglich Sächsische Gesamtuniversität)
 Georgia
(Tbilisi)
 Democratic Republic of Georgia
(Tbilisi)
Tbilisi State University 1918 founded in 1918 as Tbilisi State University
 Gibraltar  Gibraltar University of Gibraltar 2015
 Greece
(Corfu)
Flag of the United States of the Ionian Islands.svg United States of the Ionian Islands
(Corfu)
Ionian University 1824 (university 1984) created as the Ionian Academy in 1824 on Corfu. Established as the Ionian University (Greek: Iόνιο Πανεπιστήμιο) in 1984 by the Greek government.
 Greece
(Athens)
 Kingdom of Greece
(Athens)
National Technical University of Athens 1837 (awarded degrees from 1887)[70] founded in 1836 as a part-time vocational school called Royal School of Arts
 Hungary
(Budapest)
 Kingdom of Hungary
(Nagyszombat)
Eötvös Loránd University 1635 Founded in 1635 by the archbishop and theologian Péter Pázmány as the University of Nagyszombat. Renamed Royal Hungarian University of Science in 1769. The university was moved to Buda (today part of Budapest) in 1777. The university moved to its final location in Pest (now also part of Budapest) in 1784 and was renamed Royal University of Pest. It has been renamed three times since then: University of Budapest (1873-1921), (Hungarian Royal Pázmány Péter University (1921-1950), and since 1950, Eötvös Loránd University.
 Hungary
(Budapest)
 Kingdom of Hungary
(Nagyszombat)
Semmelweis University 1769
(independent 1951)
the oldest medical school in Hungary. Founded as a medical school within the University of Nagyszombat. Became an independent institution as the Medical University of Budapest in 1951. Took on the name of Ignác Semmelweis in 1969.
 Hungary
(Budapest)
 Kingdom of Hungary
(Nagyszombat)
Budapest University of Technology and Economics 1782
(independent 1872)
established as the Institutum Geometricum as part of the Faculty of Liberal Arts at the University of Buda in 1782. The Institutum Geometricum merged with the Joseph College of Technology in 1850 and became the Royal Joseph Polytechnic in 1856. Renamed Royal Joseph University in 1862 and gained full autonomy in 1872. Reorganized as Palatine Joseph University of Technology and Economics in 1934. Renamed Technical University of Budapest in 1949. In 2000, the official name changes to Budapest University of Technology and Economics.
 Iceland
(Reykjavík)
 Denmark
(Reykjavík)
University of Iceland 1911
 Ireland
(Dublin)
 Kingdom of Ireland
(Dublin)
University of Dublin 1592 Effectively synonymous with Trinity College, Dublin
 Italy
(Urbino)
 Holy Roman Empire
(Urbino)
University of Urbino 1506
 Italy
(Messina)
 Kingdom of Sicily
(Messina)
University of Messina 1548 The predecessor institution of the University was the College of Messina
 Italy
(L'Aquila)
 Kingdom of Naples
(L'Aquila)
University of L'Aquila 1596
 Latvia
(Riga)
 Russian Empire
(Riga)
Riga Technical University 1862 first established as Riga Polytechnicum in 1862
 Liechtenstein
(Vaduz)
 Liechtenstein
(Vaduz)
University of Liechtenstein 1961 successor to the Abendtechnikum Vaduz in 1992
 Lithuania
(Vilnius)
 Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
(Vilnius)
Vilnius University 1579 (continuous operation since 1919) founded as the Jesuit Academy (College) of Vilnius; the university was closed from 1832 to 1919 and again in 1943-44
 Luxembourg
(Esch-sur-Alzette)
 Luxembourg
(Esch-sur-Alzette)
University of Luxembourg 2003
 Macedonia
(Skopje)
 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
(Skopje)
Ss. Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje 1946
 Macedonia
(Bitola)
 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
(Bitola)
St. Clement of Ohrid University of Bitola 1979
 Malta
(Msida)
 Malta
(Msida)
University of Malta 1769 first established as the Collegium Melitense by the Jesuits 1592
 Netherlands
(Leiden)
 Dutch Republic
(Leiden)
University of Leiden 1575
 Netherlands
(Groningen)
 Dutch Republic
(Groningen)
University of Groningen 1614
 Netherlands
(Amsterdam)
 Dutch Republic
(Amsterdam)
University of Amsterdam 1632 founded as the Athenaeum Illustre of Amsterdam
 Netherlands
(Utrecht)
 Dutch Republic
(Utrecht)
Utrecht University 1636 formerly Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht
 Norway
(Oslo)
 Denmark–Norway
(Christiania)
University of Oslo 1811 founded as The Royal Frederik's University
 Poland
(Wrocław)
 Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
(Wrocław)
University of Wrocław 1701 re-founded 1811
 Poland
(Warsaw)
 Prussia
(Budapest)
University of Warsaw 1816 founded as a Royal University on 19 November 1816, when the Partitions of Poland separated Warsaw from the older University of Kraków (founded in 1364).
 Portugal
(Évora)
 Portugal
(Évora)
University of Évora 1559 (continuous operation since 1973) second oldest university in Portugal, 1559–1759, resumed work in 1973
 Portugal
(Lisbon)
 Portugal
(Lisbon)
University of Lisbon 1911
 Portugal
(Porto)
 Portugal
(Porto)
University of Porto 1911
 Romania
(Iași)
Flag of the United Principalities of Romania (1862 - 1866).svg United Principalities
(Iași)
Alexandru Ioan Cuza University 1860[71][72] successor to the Princely Academy from Iaşi, 1642, and Academia Mihăileană, 1835[73]
 Romania
(Bucharest)
Flag of the United Principalities of Romania (1862 - 1866).svg United Principalities
(Bucharest)
University of Bucharest 1864[71][74] successor to the Saint Sava College, 1694
 Romania
(Cluj-Napoca)
 Kingdom of Romania
(Cluj)
Babeș-Bolyai University 1918[71][75] teaching existed in Cluj-Napoca since the Jesuits College, 1581, and the Jesuits Academy, 1688
 Russia
(Kaliningrad)
Alex K Kingdom of Poland-flag.svg Kingdom of Poland
(Königsberg)
Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University 1544 or 1967 claims continuity from University of Königsberg, 1544. After the World War II, Königsberg was renamed Kaliningrad and the new Russophone Kaliningrad State Pedagogical Institute used the campus of the Albertina from 1948 to 1967. In 1967, the institute received the status of a university and became known as Kaliningrad State University.
 Russia
(Saint Petersburg)
 Russian Empire
(Saint Petersburg)
Saint Petersburg State University 1724 claims to be the successor of the university established along with the Academic Gymnasium and the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences on January 24, 1724 by a decree of Peter the Great. In the period between 1804 and 1819, Saint Petersburg University officially did not exist
 Russia
(Moscow)
 Russian Empire
(Moscow)
Moscow State University 1775
 Russia
(Kazan)
 Russian Empire
(Kazan)
Kazan Federal University 1804 Founded in 1804 as Kazan Imperial University
 Serbia
(Belgrade)
 Kingdom of Serbia
(Belgrade)
University of Belgrade 1905 founded in 1808 as the Belgrade Higher School, by 1838 it merged with the Kragujevac-based departments into a single university, under current name from 1905; Orthodox Christian Lyceum in 1794; Teacher's college in 1778|
 Slovakia
(Bratislava)
 Czechoslovakia
(Bratislava)
Comenius University 1919
 Slovenia
(Ljubljana)
 Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
(Ljubljana)
University of Ljubljana 1919
 Spain
(Seville)
 Spain
(Seville)
University of Seville 1505
 Spain
(Granada)
 Spain
(Granada)
University of Granada 1531
 Spain
(Zaragoza)
 Spain
(Zaragoza)
University of Zaragoza 1542
 Spain
(Oviedo)
 Spain
(Oviedo)
University of Oviedo 1608
 Sweden
(Lund)
 Sweden
(Lund)
Lund University 1666 a Franciscan Studium Generale was founded in Lund in 1425, as the first university in Northern Europe, but as a result of the Protestant Reformation the operations of the catholic university were suspended
  Switzerland
(Lausanne)
 Old Swiss Confederacy
(Lausanne)
University of Lausanne 1537
  Switzerland
(Geneva)
 Old Swiss Confederacy
(Geneva)
University of Geneva 1559 founded by John Calvin
  Switzerland
(Zurich)
  Switzerland
(Zurich)
University of Zurich 1833 origin 1525; est. 1833
 Turkey
(Istanbul)
 Turkey
(Istanbul)
Istanbul Technical University 1928 Founded in 1773 as Imperial School of Naval Engineering by Mustafa III, but became a state university in 1928.[76]
 Turkey
(Istanbul)
 Turkey
(Istanbul)
Istanbul University 1933 The current state university was founded in 1933, but traces its origins back to the House of Multiple Sciences founded in 1846. Its ultimate origins lie in a madrasa founded by Mehmed II in 1453, itself built upon a previous Byzantine school dating back to 1321
 Ukraine
(Kharkiv)
 Russian Empire
(Lund)
V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University 1804
 Ukraine
(Kiev)
 Russian Empire
(Kiev)
Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv 1834 Founded as the Kiev Imperial University of Saint Vladimir and changed names several times afters that
 Ukraine
(Lviv)
 Austrian Empire
(Lviv)
Lviv University 1850 operated from 1661-1773, 1784-1805, 1817–1848, 1850-
 United Kingdom
( Scotland)
(Edinburgh)
 Kingdom of Scotland
(Edinburgh)
University of Edinburgh 1582/3[77] Formally established as the Tounis College (Town's College) under the authority of a Royal Charter granted to the Town of Edinburgh by King James VI of Scotland on 14 April 1582.[78][79] It opened its doors to students in October 1583.[80]
 United Kingdom
( England)
(London)
 United Kingdom
( England)
(London)
University College London 1826[81] (as college; degree awarding powers 2005) Claims to be the third oldest university in England and "the first university to be founded in London".[82][83]

Listed by Rüegg as a college of the University of London rather than as a university.[81]
Legally a college of the University of London but generally recognised as a university. Established by deed of settlement as an unincorporated joint stock company under the name of London University in 1826.[84] Unsuccessful in attempts to gain recognition as a university, but accepted charter of incorporation "not as a University but as a College" in 1836, and was affiliated to the University of London.[85][86] Gained its own degree awarding powers in 2005.[87]

 United Kingdom
( England)
(London)
 United Kingdom
( England)
(London)
King's College London 1829[81] (as college; degree awarding powers 2006) Claims to be the fourth oldest university in England.[88]

Listed by Rüegg as a college of the University of London rather than as a university.[81]
Legally a college of the University of London but generally recognised as a university. Established by royal charter as a college in 1829.[89] Gained its own degree awarding powers in 2006.[90]

 United Kingdom
( England)
(Durham)
 United Kingdom
( England)
(Durham)
Durham University 1832[81] Claims to be the third oldest university in England.[91][92]

Listed by Rüegg in A History of the University in Europe as meeting standard criteria for recognition as a university from 1832[81]
Established under the authority of the University of Durham Act 1832.[93] Recognised as a university in the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 and the Established Church Act 1836.[94][95] Incorporated and confirmed by Royal Charter in 1837 and degrees granted equal privileges with those of Oxford and Cambridge by the Attorneys and Solicitors Act 1837.[96][97]

 United Kingdom
( England)
(London)
 United Kingdom
( England)
(London)
University of London 1836[81] Claims to be the third oldest university in England.[98]

Listed by Rüegg as meeting standard criteria for recognition as a university from 1836[81]
Established by Royal Charter as degree awarding examining body for King's College London and University College London (see below), the London medical schools, and other institutions.[99] Degrees granted equal privileges with those of Oxford and Cambridge by the Attorneys and Solicitors Act 1837.[97]

 United Kingdom
(Northern Ireland)
(Belfast)
 United Kingdom
(Ireland)
(Belfast)
Queen's University Belfast 1845[81] (as college; university 1908) Oldest university in Northern Ireland. Listed by Rüegg as meeting standard criteria for recognition as a university from 1845.[81]

Founded 1845, as a university college, gained university status in 1908.[100]

 United Kingdom
( Wales)
(Cardiff)
 United Kingdom
( Wales)
(Aberystwyth,
Bangor,
Cardiff)
University of Wales 1893[101] Founded by Royal Charter in 1893 as a federal university with three constituent colleges – Aberystwyth, Bangor and Cardiff – the university was the first and oldest university in Wales. Listed by Rüegg as meeting standard criteria for recognition as a university from 1893[101]
 United Kingdom
( Wales)
(Carmarthen,
Lampeter,
Swansea)
 United Kingdom
( Wales)
(Carmarthen,
Lampeter)
University of Wales Trinity Saint David 1822 (as college; limited degree awarding powers 1852) The university was founded as St David's College (Coleg Dewi Sant) in 1822 "to provide a liberal education to members of the clergy" and was incorporated by royal charter in 1828.[102] It was renamed St David's University College (Coleg Prifysgol Dewi Sant) in 1971, when it became part of the federal University of Wales. It was again renamed University of Wales, Lampeter in 1996 in line with moves elsewhere in the University of Wales. In 2010 it merged with Trinity University College to form the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David.[103] Although described as the oldest university in Wales,[104][105] it was not listed by Rüegg as meeting standard critera for a university[106] and lost a court case in 1951 against the Ministry of Education in which it sought to receive recognition as a university.[107]
 United Kingdom
( Wales)
(Aberystwyth)
 United Kingdom
( Wales)
(Aberystwyth)
Aberystwyth University 1872[101] (as college; university 2007) Founded in 1872 as University College Wales, Aberystwyth, it became a founder member of the University of Wales in 1894 and changed its name to the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth.[108] It claims to be "Wales's oldest university",[109] but was listed by Rüegg as a college of the University of Wales rather than as a university.[101] It became an independent university (as Aberystwyth University) in 2007.[110]

Latin America and the Caribbean[edit]

Location Current name Year Notes
Current Original
 Argentina  Spanish Empire National University of Córdoba 1613 the oldest university in Argentina
 Argentina  Argentina University of Buenos Aires 1821 the largest university in Argentina and the second largest university by enrollment in Latin America.
 Belize  Belize University of Belize 2000
 Bolivia  Spanish Empire University of Saint Francis Xavier 1624 Founded in 1624 by order of the Spanish King Philip IV, and with the support of Pope Innocent XII. Full name is The Royal and Pontificial Major University of Saint Francis Xavier of Chuquisaca
 Brazil  Brazil Federal University of Amazonas 1909 founded on January 17, 1909 as the Free University School of Manáos. It is the oldest university in Brazil and the largest university in the northern region of Brazil.
 Brazil  Brazil Federal University of Paraná 1912
 Brazil  Brazil Federal University of Rio de Janeiro 1920 successor to the Escola Politécnica (Polytechnic School (founded December 17, 1792 as Royal Academy of Artillery, Fortification and Design), the Faculdade Nacional de Medicina (National College of Medicine, founded on April 2, 1808) and the Faculdade Nacional de Direito (National College of Law, which came to exist after the fusion between the College of Legal and Social Sciences and the Free College of Law - both recognized by the Law Decree 693 of October 1, 1891). It is the largest federal university in the country
 Chile  Chile Universidad de Chile 1842 successor to the "Real Universidad de San Felipe", created in 1738. The oldest university in Chile
 Colombia  Spanish Empire Saint Thomas Aquinas University 1580 Founded in 1580 by the Dominican Order. It is the oldest university in the Americas.
 Colombia  Spanish Empire Pontifical Xavierian University 1623 The College of the Society of Jesus was established in Santafé de Bogotá in 1604 as part of the San Bartolome School and Cloister.
 Colombia  Spanish Empire Colegio Mayor de Nuestra Señora del Rosario - Universidad del Rosario 1653
 Costa Rica  Costa Rica University of Costa Rica 1940 The first institution dedicated to higher education in Costa Rica was the University of Saint Thomas (Universidad de Santo Tomás), which was established in 1843. That institution maintained close ties with the Roman Catholic Church and was closed in 1888 by the progressive and anti-clerical government of President Bernardo Soto Alfaro as part of a campaign to modernize public education. The schools of law, agronomy, fine arts, and pharmacy continued to operate independently. In 1940, those four schools were re-united to establish the modern UCR, during the reformist administration of President Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia.
 Cuba  Spanish Empire Universidad de La Habana 1728
 Dominica  Dominica Ross University School of Medicine 1978
 Dominican Republic  Dominican Republic Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo 1914 successor to the Universidad Santo Tomás de Aquino, 1558, which disappeared in 1823
 Ecuador  Gran Colombia Central University of Ecuador 1826 Real y Pontificia Universidad de San Gregorio Magno
 El Salvador  El Salvador Universidad de El Salvador 1841 founded on February 16, 1841, by the President Juan Lindo,
 Grenada  Grenada St. George's University 1976
 Guatemala  Spanish Empire Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala 1676
 Guyana  British Guiana University of Guyana 1963
 Haiti  Haiti Universite d'Etat d'Haiti 1820
 Haiti  United States occupation of Haiti Université Adventiste d'Haïti 1921
 Honduras  Honduras Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras 1847
 Anguilla
 Antigua and Barbuda
 Bahamas
 Barbados
 Belize
 British Virgin Islands
 Cayman Islands
 Dominica
 Grenada
 Jamaica
 Montserrat
 St. Kitts and Nevis
 St. Lucia
 St. Vincent and the Grenadines
 Trinidad and Tobago
 Turks and Caicos
 Jamaica University of the West Indies 1948 First campus opened in Jamaica as the University College of the West Indies associated with the University of London in 1948. Gained independent university status in 1962.
 Jamaica  Jamaica University of Technology, Jamaica 1958 established as the Jamaica Institute of Technology (1958); renamed College of Arts, Science and Technology (1959–1995). Degree awarding powers from 1986
 Mexico  Mexico Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México 1910 traces its origins back to Real y Pontificia Universidad de México (1551-1865) but no institutional continuity
 Mexico  Mexico Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo 1917 founded in 1540 as Colegio de San Nicolás Obispo (St. Nicholas Bishop College) and later in 1543 was appointed Real Colegio de San Nicolás Obispo (Royal St. Nicholas Bishop College) by King Carlos I of Spain; it was converted into a university on October 15, 1917.[111]
 Mexico  Mexico Universidad de Guadalajara 1925 founded October 12, 1791; legally established October 12, 1925
 Mexico  Mexico Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla 1937 founded 1587 as Colegio del Espíritu Santo. Converted into a public college in 1825, then a public university in 1937.[112]
 Panama  Panama Universidad de Panamá 1935
 Paraguay  Paraguay Universidad Nacional de Asunción 1889
 Peru  Spanish Empire National University of San Marcos 1551 Also known as the "Dean university of the Americas"; This is the first officially established (privilege by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor) and the longest continuously operating university in the Americas
 Peru  Spanish Empire National University of San Antonio Abad in Cuzco 1692
 Peru  Peru National University of Saint Augustine 1828
 Puerto Rico  Puerto Rico University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras 1903
 Surinam  Kingdom of the Netherlands Anton de Kom University 1968
 Uruguay  Uruguay Universidad de la República 1849
 Venezuela  Spanish Empire Central University of Venezuela 1721

Canada, Greenland and the United States[edit]

In the United States, the colonial colleges awarded degrees from their foundation, but none were formally named as universities prior to the American Revolution, leading to various claims to be the first university in the United States. The earliest Canadian institutions were founded as colleges, without degree awarding powers, and gained degree granting authority and university status later.

Location Current name Year Notes
Current Original
 Canada
(Québec, Québec)
 New France
(Quebec City)
Université Laval 1663 (university 1852) Founded in 1663 as a seminary (Séminaire de Québec), making it the oldest post-secondary institution in Canada; extended to teach the liberal arts after the British Conquest of 1760. Gained university status and the power to award degrees by royal charter in 1852.[113]
 Canada
(Montreal, Québec)
 Lower Canada
(Québec)
McGill University 1821 McGill College received a royal charter in 1821. The name "McGill University" was adopted in 1855[114][better source needed].
 Canada
(Fredericton & Saint John, New Brunswick)
 New Brunswick
(Fredericton)
University of New Brunswick 1785 (university 1828) Oldest English-language post-secondary institution in Canada. Founded in 1785 as Provincial Academy of Arts and Sciences, provincial charter as College of New Brunswick in 1800, royal charter "to be deemed and taken as an University" 1828 King's College, reorganised as the University of New Brunswick 1859.[115][116]
 Canada
(Halifax, Nova Scotia)
  Nova Scotia
(Windsor)
University of King's College 1789 (university 1802) First established as the King's Collegiate School in Windsor, Nova Scotia in 1789. Received a royal charter in 1802 establishing it (after the model of Trinity College, Dublin) as "The Mother of an University", making it the oldest chartered university in Canada.[117][118] A fire destroyed the original university in 1920, and the institution relocated to Halifax.
 Canada
((Toronto, Ontario)
  Upper Canada

(Ontario)

University of Toronto 1827 Initially established as King's College, the first higher learning institution in Upper Canada. In 1849 it adopted its current name, University of Toronto.[citation needed]
 Greenland
(Nuuk)
 Greenland
(Nuuk)
University of Greenland 1983 (university 1989) Established 1983, took name University of Greenland 1987, formal university status by legislation since 1 September 1989.[119]
 United States
(Cambridge, Massachusetts)
  Massachusetts
(Cambridge)
Harvard University 1636 Founded in 1636, named Harvard College in 1639, chartered in 1650. Claims to be "the oldest institution of higher education in the United States". Officially recognised as a university by the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780.[120][121]
 United States
(Williamsburg, Virginia)
  Virginia
(Middle Plantation)
The College of William & Mary 1693 Chartered in 1693. Claims to be the "[f]irst college to become a university" in the US, in 1779.[122] Closed during two different periods—from 1861 to 1869 due to the Civil War and postwar financial problems, and 1882 to 1888 due to continued financial difficulties.
 United States
(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
  Pennsylvania
(Pennsylvania Colony)
University of Pennsylvania 1755 Traces its roots to a charity school founded in 1740. Collegiate charter 1755. Claims to be "the first American institution of higher education to be named a university" (in 1779).[123]
 United States
(Washington, DC)
 United States
(Georgetown, Maryland)
Georgetown University 1789 Founded in 1789, Georgetown University received the first federal university charter by President James Madison in 1815[124][125][not in citation given]

Oceania[edit]

Location Current name Year Notes
Current Original
 Australia
( New South Wales)
 New South Wales University of Sydney 1850 oldest in New South Wales, Australia and Oceania
 Australia
( Victoria)
 Victoria University of Melbourne 1853 oldest in Victoria
 Australia
( South Australia)
 South Australia University of Adelaide 1874 oldest in South Australia
 Australia
( Tasmania)
 Tasmania University of Tasmania 1890 oldest in Tasmania
 Australia
( Queensland)
 Australia
( Queensland)
University of Queensland 1909 oldest in Queensland
 Australia
( Western Australia)
 Australia
( Western Australia)
University of Western Australia 1911 oldest in Western Australia
 Australia
( Australian Capital Territory)
 Australia
(Australian Capital Territory)
Australian National University 1946 oldest in Australian Capital Territory
 Australia
( New South Wales)
 Australia
( New South Wales)
University of New England 1954 first established outside of a state capital
 Australia
( Northern Territory)
 Australia
( Northern Territory)
Northern Territory University 1989 oldest in Northern Territory, amalgamated as part of Charles Darwin University in 2004
 Cook Islands
 Fiji
 Kiribati
 Marshall Islands
 Nauru
 Niue
 Samoa
 Solomon Islands
 Tokelau
 Tonga
 Tuvalu
 Vanuatu
Fiji Colony of Fiji University of the South Pacific 1968 Regional university, operating in (and owned by the governments of) 12 Pacific island nations. Main campus in Fiji.
 Papua New Guinea  Papua New Guinea University of Papua New Guinea 1965 first university in Papua New Guinea
 New Zealand
( Otago)
Flag of New Zealand Government Ships 1867.svg New Zealand
(Otago)
University of Otago 1869 oldest in New Zealand and the South Island
 New Zealand
(Canterbury)
 New Zealand
(Canterbury)
University of Canterbury 1873 oldest in Christchurch
 New Zealand
(Auckland)
 New Zealand
(Auckland)
University of Auckland 1883 oldest in Auckland and the North Island
 New Zealand
(Flagofwellington.gif Wellington)
 New Zealand
(Wellington)
Victoria University of Wellington 1899 oldest in Wellington

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ 'The statement that all universities are descended either directly or by migration from these three prototypes [Oxford, Paris, and Bologna] depends, of course, on one's definition of a university. And I must define a university very strictly here. A university is something more than a center of higher education and study. One must reserve the term university for—and I'm quoting Rashdall here—"a scholastic guild, whether of masters or students, engaged in higher education and study," which was later defined, after the emergence of universities, as "studium generale".'[1]
  2. ^ "No one today would dispute the fact that universities, in the sense in which the term is now generally understood, were a creation of the Middle Ages, appearing for the first time between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. It is no doubt true that other civilizations, prior to, or wholly alien to, the medieval West, such as the Roman Empire, Byzantium, Islam, or China, were familiar with forms of higher education which a number of historians, for the sake of convenience, have sometimes described as universities.Yet a closer look makes it plain that the institutional reality was altogether different and, no matter what has been said on the subject, there is no real link such as would justify us in associating them with medieval universities in the West. Until there is definite proof to the contrary, these latter must be regarded as the sole source of the model which gradually spread through the whole of Europe and then to the whole world. We are therefore concerned with what is indisputably an original institution, which can only be defined in terms of a historical analysis of its emergence and its mode of operation in concrete circumstances."[6]
  3. ^ "Thus the university, as a form of social organization, was peculiar to medieval Europe. Later, it was exported to all parts of the world, including the Muslim East; and it has remained with us down to the present day. But back in the Middle Ages, outside of Europe, there was nothing anything quite like it anywhere."[7]
  4. ^ Note that the Court of Cassation of Belgium ruled 26 November 1846, that this new Catholic University of Louvain founded in Mechlin in 1834 does not have any links with the Old University of Louvain founded in 1425 and abolished in 1797 and can not be regarded as continuing it: "The Catholic University of Louvain can not be regarded as continuing the old University of Louvain", in, Table générale alphabétique et chronologique de la Pasicrisie Belge contenant la jurisprudence du Royaume de 1814 à 1850, Brussels, 1855, p. 585, column 1, alinea 2. See also: Bulletin Usuel des Lois et Arrêtés, 1861, p.166. To see also this rule of the Cour d'Appel of 1844: La Belgique Judiciaire, 28 July 1844 n° 69, p. 1 : "Cour d’Appel de Bruxelles. Deuxième chambre. L'université libre de Louvain ne représente pas légalement l’antique université de cette ville. Attendu que cette université (l’ancienne Université de Louvain), instituée par une bulle papale, de concert avec l'autorité souveraine, formait un corps reconnu dans l'État, ayant différentes attributions, dont plusieurs même lui étaient déléguées par le pouvoir civil; Attendu que ce corps a été supprimé par les lois de la république française; Attendu que l'université existant actuellement à Louvain ne peut être considérée comme continuant celle qui existait en 1457, ces deux établissemens ayant un caractère bien distinct, puisque l'université actuelle, non reconnue comme personne civile, n'est qu'un établissement tout-à-fait privé, résultat de la liberté d'enseignement, en dehors de toute action du pouvoir et sans autorité dans l'État...". "Court of Appeal of Brussels. Second Chamber. The Free University of Louvain is not legally representend the old university in that city. Whereas this University (formerly University of Louvain), established by a papal bull, together with the sovereign authority, formed a body recognized by the State, with different functions, many of which even he was delegated by the civil power. And whereas this body was removed by the laws of the French Republic; Whereas the currently existing university in Leuven can not be regarded as continuing that which existed in 1457, these two establishments with a distinct character, since the currently university is not recognized as legal person, and is institution is entirely private, the result of academic freedom, apart from any action without authority and power in the state."

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