List of oldest universities in continuous operation
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. 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 suspended from 1793 to 1896, are excluded.
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, which, with a traditional founding date of 1088, is considered to be the first university. 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.
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]
- 1 Medieval origins
- 2 Modern spread
- 3 Founded before 1500
- 4 Oldest universities by country or region after 1500 still in operation
- 5 See also
- 6 References
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 [...].
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:
- 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
|1088||University of Bologna|| Kingdom of Italy,
Holy Roman Empire
|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.|
|1096–1167 (charter granted in 1248)||University of Oxford||Kingdom of England||Oxford, United Kingdom||The oldest university in the English speaking world. Claims to have been founded between 1096 and 1167. Rashdall takes 1167 as the date when Oxford became a studium generale. 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").|
|1209 (charter granted in 1231)||University of Cambridge||Kingdom of England||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. The University takes 1209 as its official anniversary. 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.|
|1218||University of Salamanca||Kingdom of León||Salamanca, Spain||The oldest university in operation in Spain. 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. 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 been 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.|
|1222 (probably older)||University of Padua||Lombard League||Padua, Italy||Founded by scholars and professors after leaving Bologna.|
|1224 (1258)||University of Naples Federico II||Kingdom of Sicily||Naples, Italy||The first public university, 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|| Kingdom of 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||Papal States||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.|
|By 1293||University of Valladolid||Kingdom of Castile||Valladolid, Spain||Founded in the late 13th century (first documentary evidence 1293), probably by the city.|
|1293||University of Alcalá||Crown of Castile||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||Papal States||Rome, Italy||Founded by Pope Boniface VIII, but became a state university in 1935.|
|1308||University of Perugia||Papal States||Perugia, Italy||Attested by the Bull of Pope Clement V.|
|1321||University of Florence||Republic of Florence||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||Republic of Pisa||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||Kingdom of Bohemia||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.|
|1357||University of Siena||Republic of Siena||Siena, Italy||Claims to have been founded in 1240 by the Commune of Siena, 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". Closed temporarily in 1808–1815 when Napoleonic forces occupied Tuscany. On November 7, 2015 the University celebrated its 775th anniversary.|
|1361||University of Pavia||Domain of the House of Visconti||Pavia, Italy||Closed for short periods during the Italian Wars, Napoleonic wars, and Revolutions of 1848.|
|1364||Jagiellonian University||Kingdom of 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||Vienna, Austria||Modelled on the University of Paris.|
|1386||Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg||Holy Roman Empire||Heidelberg, Germany||Founded by Rupert I, Elector Palatine. The oldest in contemporary Germany and third oldest Germanophone university.|
|1391||University of Ferrara||House of Este||Ferrara, Italy||Founded by Marquis Alberto d'Este.|
|1404||University of Turin||Duchy of Savoy||Turin, Italy||Founded by the prince "Louis of Piedmont" during the reign of Amadeus VIII.|
|1409||University of Leipzig||Holy Roman Empire||Leipzig, Germany||Founded when German-speaking staff left Prague due to the Jan Hus crisis.|
|1413||University of St. Andrews||Kingdom of Scotland||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.|
|1419||University of Rostock||Holy Roman Empire||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". The university closed in 1523, 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.|
|1434||University of Catania||Kingdom of Sicily||Catania, Italy||The oldest in Sicily. Founded by Alfonso V of Aragon.|
|1450||University of Barcelona||Crown of Aragon||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||Glasgow, United Kingdom||Founded by a Papal bull.|
|1456||University of Greifswald||Holy Roman Empire||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||Freiburg, Germany||Temporarily transferred to Constance in 1686–98 and 1713–15.|
|1460||University of Basel||Holy Roman Empire||Basel, Switzerland||Founded in 1460 (Schola Basiliensis), the University of Basel is the oldest university in Switzerland.|
|1472||Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich||Holy Roman Empire||Munich, Germany||Founded in Ingolstadt in 1472; with a Papal Bull obtained in 1459 from Pope Pius II by Louis the Rich, transferred to Landshut in 1800, moved to Munich in 1826.|
|1477||Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen||Holy Roman Empire||Tübingen, Germany|
|1477||Uppsala University|| Kingdom of Sweden within the
|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
|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||Genoa, Italy||Founded in 1481 (Genuense Athenaeum).|
|1495||University of Aberdeen||Kingdom of Scotland||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||Galicia, Crown of Castile||Santiago de Compostela, Spain||The university traces its roots to 1495, when a school was opened in Santiago. 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||Crown of Aragon||Valencia, Spain|
Oldest universities by country or region after 1500 still in operation
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.
|Current Name||Country||Founded||Previous Name(s)||Notes|
|University of Algiers||Algeria||1909|
|Agostinho Neto University||Angola||1962||founded as Estudos Gerais Universitários de Angola|
|University of Yaoundé||Cameroon||1962|
|Jean Piaget University of Cape Verde||Cape Verde||2001|
|University of Cape Verde||Cape Verde||2006||as a result of the merger of the two previously existing higher education establishments (ISE and ISECMAR)|
|Cairo University||Egypt||1908||The oldest university in Africa|
|University of Addis Ababa||Ethiopia||1950|
|University of Ghana||Ghana||1948|
|University of Nairobi||Kenya||1970||Royal College Nairobi,
University College Nairobi
|Oldest in Kenya. Established 1956 as a technical college, university college affiliated to the University of London 1961, constituent college of the University of East Africa 1963, independent university 1970.|
|Egerton University||Kenya||1939 (university 1987)||Egerton Farm School,
Egerton Agricultural College
|Claims to be "the oldest institution of higher learning in Kenya". Founded as a farm school 1939, upgraded to agricultural college in 1950 then a college of the University of Nairobi in 1986 before becoming an independent university by Act of Parliament in 1987.|
|University of Liberia||Liberia||1951||building on Liberia College founded in 1863|
|University of Libya||Libya||1956||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|
|University of Antananarivo||Madagascar||1965|
|University of Mauritius||Mauritius||1965|
|The University of al-Qarawiyyin||Morocco||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|
|University of Rabat||Morocco||1957|
|University of Hassan II Casablanca Ain Chok||Morocco||1975|
|Eduardo Mondlane University||Mozambique||1962||Estudos Gerais Universitários de Moçambique|
|University of Ibadan||Nigeria||1948 (university 1962)||Yaba College,
University College of Ibadan
|Founded as a college in 1922, university college associated with the University of London from 1948, university 1962|
|University of Nigeria, Nsukka||Nigeria||1960||First university in Nigeria.|
|Fourah Bay College||Sierra Leone||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.|
|Somali National University||Somalia||1954|
|University of Cape Town||South Africa||1918||founded as a school in 1829 (university status: 2 April 1918)|
|Stellenbosch University||South Africa||1918||founded as a secondary education institute in 1866 (University status: 2 April 1918)|
|University of Khartoum||Sudan||1956||Renamed from Gordon Memorial College, founded 1902, when it gained full university status in 1956|
|The University of Ez-Zitouna||Tunisia||1961||traces its origins back to the Al-Zaytuna madrassa founded around 737 AH (1300-1350 CE) (university status in 1961)|
|University of Zimbabwe||Zimbabwe||1952|
|Current Name||Country||Founded||Previous Name(s)||Notes|
|Kabul University||Afghanistan||1931||Founded in 1931, formally opened 1932.|
|University of Bahrain||Bahrain||1986|
|University of Dhaka||Bangladesh||1921||First university in Bangladesh, opened 1 July 1921.|
|Royal University of Fine Arts||Cambodia||1918|
|Nanking University||People's Republic of China[Note 4]||1888||Jinling University
|Private university later merged with the public University of Nanjing (南京大学). First institution in China to use the English term "university".|
|Wuhan University||People's Republic of China[Note 4]||1893||Ziqiang Institute|
|Tianjin University||People's Republic of China[Note 4]||1895||Imperial Tientsin University|
|Peking University||People's Republic of China[Note 4]||1898||founded in 1898 as Imperial Capital University or Imperial University of Peking|
|The University of Hong Kong||Hong Kong||1911||founded as the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese in 1887, incorporated as a university in 1911|
|Serampore College||India||1818||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.|
|University of Calcutta||India||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|
|University of Indonesia||Indonesia||1947||founded as the School of Javanese Doctor in 1851|
|Bandung Institute of Technology||Indonesia||1959||founded as Technische Hogeschool in 1920|
|University of Baghdad||Iraq||1956||the Iraqi Royal College of Medicine was established in 1928|
|University of Tehran||Iran||1934||founded by Rezā Shāh, incorporating portions of the Dar ul-Funun Polytechnic Institute (1851) and the Tehran School of Political Sciences (1899)|
|Hebrew University of Jerusalem||Israel||1918|
|Technion - Israel Institute of Technology||Israel||1912||founded in 1912, but formal teaching began in 1924|
|Keio University||Japan||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 in1920. (To be noted, Japan's oldest academic institution is Ashikaga Gakko)|
|University of Tokyo||Japan||1877||University of Tokyo (1877–1886)
Imperial University (1886–1897)
Tokyo Imperial University (1897–1947)
|Its origins include a private college of Confucian studies founded by Hayashi Razan in 1630, Tenmonkata (The Observatory, 1684) and Shutōsho (Smallpox Vaccination Centre, 1849).
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.
|Ryukoku University||Japan||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.|
|University of Jordan||Jordan||1962|
|Al-Farabi Kazakh National University||Kazakhstan||1933|
|American University of Beirut||Lebanon||1866|
|Saint Joseph University||Lebanon||1872||Universite Saint Joseph|
|Université La Sagesse||Lebanon||1875|
|University of Macau||Macau||1981||University of East Asia||established as University of East Asia in 1981, renamed 1991|
|University of Malaya||Malaysia||1981||Straits and Federated Malay States Government Medical School||established as Straits and Federated Malay States Government Medical School in 1905 in Singapore|
|Mongolian Academy of Sciences||Mongolia||1921||Institute of Literature and Script|
|Institute of finance and economics of Mongolia||Mongolia||1924||School of Custom's Officers in Ulaanbaatar|
|National University of Mongolia||Mongolia||1942|
|Kim Il-sung University||North Korea||1946|
|University of the Punjab||Pakistan||1882||Established by British colonial authorities in 1882 as the first university in what would become Pakistan.|
|King Edward Medical University, Lahore||Pakistan||1860||Established as King Edward Medical College, Lahore in 1860. Became an independent university in 2005.|
|Government College University, Lahore||Pakistan||1864||Established as Government College, Lahore, 1864. Became an independent university in 2002.|
|University of Santo Tomas||Philippines||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.|
|Ateneo de Manila University||Philippines||1859||First established as the Escuela Municipal de Manila by the Society of Jesus.|
|King Saud University||Saudi Arabia||1957|
|National University of Singapore||Singapore||1905||Founded as Straits and Federated Malay States Government Medical School|
|Ewha Womans University||South Korea||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|
|Korea University||South Korea||1946||then Boseong School, was established in 1905, and was restructured as Korea University in 1946|
|Sungkyunkwan University||South Korea||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|
|Yonsei University||South Korea||1946||Yonhi College||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.|
|University of Colombo||Sri Lanka||1942||University College Colombo (1921-1942)
University of Ceylon (1942-1972)
Colombo Campus of the University of Sri Lanka (1972-1978)
|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.|
|University of Damascus||Syria||1923||founded in 1923 through the merger of the School of Medicine (established 1903) and the Institute of Law (established 1913)|
|National Taiwan University||Taiwan||1928||Taihoku (Taipei) Imperial University|
|National Taipei University of Technology||Taiwan||1912||School of Industrial Instruction|
|National University of East Timor||Timor Leste||2000|
|Hanoi Medical University||Vietnam||1902|
|Vietnam National University, Hanoi||Vietnam||1904|
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 and over half of the universities in both Germany and Spain were destroyed. By the mid 19th century, Europe had recovered to 98 universities.
|Current Name||Country||Founded||Previous Name(s)||Notes|
|University of Tirana||Albania||1957|
|Luigj Gurakuqi University||Albania||1957|
|Yerevan State University||Armenia||1919|
|University of Graz||Austria||1585|
|University of Salzburg||Austria||1622|
|University of Innsbruck||Austria||1669|
|Baku State University||Azerbaijan||1919|
|University of Liège||Belgium||1817|
|Catholic University of Mechlin||Belgium||1834||called Catholic University of Louvain,[Note 5] 1835, and then split into Dutch-speaking Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and French-speaking Université catholique de Louvain, 1968|
|Free University of Brussels||Belgium||1834|
|University of Sarajevo||Bosnia and Herzegovina||1949|
|University of Sofia||Bulgaria||1888|
|University of National and World Economy||Bulgaria||1920|
|University of Economics Varna||Bulgaria||1920|
|University of Zagreb||Croatia||1669|
|Palacký University of Olomouc||Czech Republic||1573||Olomouc Jesuit University|
|Czech Technical University||Czech Republic||1707||the oldest non-military technical university in Europe|
|Technical University of Denmark||Denmark||1829|
|University of Tartu||Estonia||1802||Established 1632, closed from 1710 to 1802|
|University of Helsinki||Finland||1828||The first university in Finland was the Royal Academy of Turku, founded in 1640, and 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, but due to the two-year gap in operations, the new founding year is listed here|
|University of Paris (Sorbonne)||France||between 1160 and 1250||All French universities were suspended in 1793 and so do not meet the criteria for inclusion in the pre-1500 list above. However many modern French universities, which were re-created in 1896, trace their origins to earlier foundations|
|University of Toulouse||France||1229||All French universities were suspended in 1793 and so do not meet the criteria for inclusion in the pre-1500 list above. However many modern French universities, which were re-created in 1896, trace their origins to earlier foundations|
|University of Montpellier||France||1289||All French universities were suspended in 1793 and so do not meet the criteria for inclusion in the pre-1500 list above. However many modern French universities, which were re-created in 1896, trace their origins to earlier foundations.
The world's oldest medicine faculty still in operation.
Faculty of Medicine established before 1137 and operated continuously through the French Revolution. University by Papal Bull in 1289. French Government announced re-establishment of the university 1889.
|University of Caen||France||1432 (continuous operation from 1894)||All French universities were suspended in 1793 and so do not meet the criteria for inclusion in the pre-1500 list above. However many modern French universities, which were re-created in 1896, trace their origins to earlier foundations
Established 1432 by Henry VII of England, Papal Bull 1437. Following French re-conquest in 1450, was refounded in 1452 by Charles VII of France. Modern university opened in 1894.
|University of Wittenberg||Germany||1502|
|University of Jena||Germany||1558|
|Tbilisi State University||Georgia||1918|
|University of Gibraltar||Gibraltar||2015|
|National Technical University of Athens||Greece||1836|
|National and Kapodistrian University of Athens||Greece||1837|
|Eötvös Loránd University||Hungary||1635||Formely known as the Royal University of Pest until 1873, then University of Budapest until 1921|
|Budapest University of Technology and Economics||Hungary||1782|
|University of Iceland||Iceland||1911|
|University of Dublin||Ireland||1592||Effectively synonymous with Trinity College, Dublin|
|University of Urbino||Italy||1506|
|University of Messina||Italy||1548|
|University of L'Aquila||Italy||1596|
|Riga Technical University||Latvia||1862|
|Hochschule Liechtenstein||Liechtenstein||1992||successory to the Abendtechnikum Vaduz established in 1961|
|University of Vilnius||Lithuania||1579||successory to the Vilnius Academy 1570, although its operation was not continuous: the university was closed from 1832 to 1919 and again in 1943-44|
|University of Luxembourg||Luxembourg||2003|
|Ss. Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje||Macedonia||1946|
|St. Clement of Ohrid University of Bitola||Macedonia||1979|
|University of Malta||Malta||1768||first established as the Collegium Melitense by the Jesuits 1592|
|University of Leiden||Netherlands||1575|
|University of Groningen||Netherlands||1614|
|University of Amsterdam||Netherlands||1632||Athenaeum Illustre|
|University of Oslo||Norway||1811|
|University of Wrocław||Poland||1701||re-founded 1811|
|University of Warsaw||Poland||1816|
|University of Évora||Portugal||1973||second oldest university in Portugal, 1559–1759, resumed work in 1973|
|University of Lisbon||Portugal||1911|
|University of Porto||Portugal||1911|
|Alexandru Ioan Cuza University Iaşi||Romania:||1860||successor to Vasilian College, 1640, Princely Academy, 1707, and Academia Mihăileană, 1834|
|University of Bucharest, Bucharest||Romania:||1864||successor to the Princely Academy, 1694, and Saint Sava College, 1822|
|Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca||Romania:||1918||teaching existed in Cluj-Napoca since the Jesuits College, 1581, and the Jesuits Academy, 1688|
|Moscow State University||Russia||1755|
|Kazan Federal University||Russia||1804|
|Saint Petersburg State University||Russia||1724–1803, 1819|
|Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University||Russia||1967||claims continuity from University of Königsberg, 1544|
|Belgrade University||Serbia||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|
|Comenius University in Bratislava||Slovakia||1919|
|University of Ljubljana||Slovenia||1919|
|University of Seville||Spain||1505|
|University of Granada||Spain||1531|
|University of Zaragoza||Spain||1542|
|University of Oviedo||Spain||1608|
|Lund University||Sweden||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|
|University of Zürich||Switzerland||1833||origin 1525; est. 1833|
|University of Lausanne||Switzerland||1537|
|University of Geneva||Switzerland||1559||founded by John Calvin|
|Istanbul Technical University||Turkey||1928||Founded in 1773 as Imperial School of Naval Engineering by Mustafa III, but became a state university in 1928.|
|Istanbul University||Turkey||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|
|University of Lviv||Ukraine||1850||operated from 1661-1773, 1784-1805, 1817–1848, 1850-|
|University of Kharkiv||Ukraine||1804|
|University of Edinburgh|| United Kingdom
|1582/3||First post-1500 university in Scotland and in the modern United Kingdom|
|Durham University|| United Kingdom
|1832||Claims to be the third oldest university in England.
Listed by Rüegg in A History of the University in Europe as meeting standard criteria for recognition as a university from 1832
|University of London|| United Kingdom
|1836||Claims to be the third oldest university in England.
Listed by Rüegg as meeting standard criteria for recognition as a university from 1836
|University College London|| United Kingdom
|1826||London University||Claims to be the third oldest university in England and "the first university to be founded in London".
Listed by Rüegg as a college of the University of London rather than as a university.
|King's College London|| United Kingdom
|1829||Claims to be the fourth oldest university in England.
Listed by Rüegg as a college of the University of London rather than as a university.
|Queen's University Belfast|| United Kingdom
( Northern Ireland)
|1845||Oldest university in Northern Ireland.
|University of Wales|| United Kingdom
|1893||First institution recognised legally as a university in Wales.
Listed by Rüegg as meeting standard criteria for recognition as a university from 1893
|University of Wales, Trinity Saint David|| United Kingdom
|1822||St David's College, Lampeter||Described by newspapers as the oldest university in Wales.
Not listed by Rüegg as meeting standard critera for a university.
|Aberystwyth University|| United Kingdom
|1872||University College Wales||Claims to be "Wales's oldest university".
Listed by Rüegg as a college of the University of Wales rather than as a university.
|Current Name||Country||Founded||Previous Name(s)||Notes|
|National University of Córdoba||Argentina||1613|
|University of Buenos Aires||Argentina||1821|
|University of Belize||Belize||2000|
|Royal and Pontificial Major University of St. Francis Xavier of Chuquisaca||Bolivia||1624|
|Federal University of Amazonas||Brazil||1909|
|Federal University of Paraná||Brazil||1912|
|Federal University of Rio de Janeiro||Brazil||1920||successor to the Royal Academy of Artillery, Fortification and Design, 1792|
|Universidad de Chile||Chile||1842||successor to the "Real Universidad de San Felipe", created in 1738 and installated in 1747|
|Saint Thomas Aquinas University||Colombia||1580|
|Pontifical Xavierian University||Colombia||1623|
|Colegio Mayor de Nuestra Señora del Rosario - Universidad del Rosario||Colombia||1653|
|Universidad de Costa Rica||Costa Rica||1940|
|Universidad de La Habana||Cuba||1728|
|Ross University School of Medicine||Dominica||1978|
|Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo||Dominican Republic||1914||successor to the Universidad Santo Tomás de Aquino, 1558, which disappeared in 1823|
|Central University of Ecuador||Ecuador||1622||Real y Pontificia Universidad de San Gregorio Magno|
|Universidad de El Salvador||El Salvador||1841|
|St. George's University||Grenada||1976|
|Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala||Guatemala||1676|
|University of Guyana||Guyana||1963|
|Universite d'Etat d'Haiti||Haiti||1820|
|Université Adventiste d'Haïti||Haiti||1921|
|Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras||Honduras||1847|
|University of the West Indies||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||1948 (university 1962)||University College of the West Indies||Regional university. First campus opened in Jamaica in 1948 as the University College of the West Indies, associated with the University of London.|
|University of Technology, Jamaica||Jamaica||1958 (university 1995)||Jamaica Institute of Technology (1958); College of Arts, Science and Technology (1959–1995)||Degree awarding powers from 1986|
|Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo||Mexico||1917||Colegio de San Nicolás Obispo (St. Nicholas Bishop College)
Real Colegio de San Nicolás Obispo (Royal St. Nicholas Bishop College)
|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.|
|Universidad de Guadalajara||Mexico||1925||founded October 12, 1791; legally established October 12, 1925|
|Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla||Mexico||1937||Colegio del Espíritu Santo||founded 1587 as Colegio del Espíritu Santo. Converted into a public college in 1825, then a public university in 1937.|
|Universidad de Panamá||Panama||1935|
|Universidad Nacional de Asunción, Lima||Paraguay||1889|
|National University of San Marcos||Peru||1551||Royal and Pontifical University of the City of the Kings||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|
|National University of San Antonio Abad in Cuzco||Peru||1692||Universidad Nacional de San Antonio Abad del Cusco|
|National University of Saint Augustine, Arequipa||Peru||1828|
|University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras||Puerto Rico||1903|
|Anton de Kom University||Surinam||1968|
|Universidad de la República||Uruguay||1849|
|Central University of Venezuela||Venezuela||1721|
Canada, Greenland and the United States
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.
|Current Name||Country||Founded||Previous Name(s)||Notes|
|Université Laval||Canada||1663 (university 1852)||Séminaire de Québec||Founded in 1663 as a seminary, 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.|
|University of New Brunswick||Canada||1785 (university 1828)||Provincial Academy of Arts and Sciences
College of New Brunswick
|Oldest English-language post-secondary institution in Canada. Founded in 1785, provincial charter as a college 1800, royal charter "to be deemed and taken as an University" 1828, reorganised as the University of New Brunswick 1859.|
|University of King's College||Canada||1789 (university 1802)||King's College||Founded as a college by an act of the Nova Scotia legislature 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.|
|University of Greenland||Greenland||1989||Established 1983, took name University of Greenland 1987, formal university status by legislation from 1 September 1989.|
|Harvard University||United States of America||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.|
|The College of William & Mary||United States of America||1693||chartered in 1693. Claims to be the"[f]irst college to become a university" in the US, in 1779.|
|University of Pennsylvania||United States of America||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).|
|Current Name||Country||Founded||Previous Name(s)||Notes|
|University of Sydney|| Australia
( New South Wales)
|1850||oldest in New South Wales, Australia and Oceania|
|University of Melbourne|| Australia
|1853||oldest in Victoria|
|University of Adelaide|| Australia
( South Australia)
|1874||oldest in South Australia|
|University of Tasmania|| Australia
|1890||oldest in Tasmania|
|University of Queensland|| Australia
|1909||oldest in Queensland|
|University of Western Australia|| Australia
( Western Australia)
|1911||oldest in Western Australia|
|Australian National University|| Australia
( Australian Capital Territory)
|1946||oldest in Australian Capital Territory|
|University of New England|| Australia
( New South Wales)
|1954||first established outside of a state capital|
|Northern Territory University|| Australia
( Northern Territory)
|1989||oldest in Northern Territory, amalgamated as part of Charles Darwin University in 2004|
|University of the South Pacific||Cook Islands; Fiji; Kiribati; Marshall Islands; Nauru; Niue; Samoa; Solomon Islands; Tokelau; Tonga; Tuvalu; Vanuatu||1968||Regional university, operating in (and owned by the governments of) 12 Pacific island nations. Main campus in Fiji.|
|University of Otago||New Zealand||1869||oldest in New Zealand and the South Island|
|University of Canterbury||New Zealand||1873||oldest in Christchurch|
|University of Auckland||New Zealand||1883||oldest in Auckland and the North Island|
|Victoria University of Wellington||New Zealand||1899||oldest in Wellington|
- '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".'
- "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."
- "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."
- Educational institutions were closed in China on June 13, 1966 due to the Cultural Revolution, reopening in July 1967.
- 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."
- Hyde, J. K. (1991). "Universities and Cities in Medieval Italy". In Bender, Thomas. The university and the city: from medieval origins to the present. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 13–14. ISBN 978-0-19-506775-0.
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As the oldest university in the English speaking world, Oxford is a unique and historic institution. There is no clear date of foundation of Oxford University, but teaching existed at Oxford in some form in 1096 and developed rapidly from 1167, when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris.
- Hastings Rashdall (2010). The Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages: Volume 2, Part 2, English Universities, Student Life. Cambridge University Press. p. 332.
In that case we may definitely assign the birth of Oxford as a Studium Generale to 1167 or the beginning of 1168.Originally published 1895.
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We are the third oldest university in England and one of the world's leading centres of scholarship and learning
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Henry VIII and Oliver Cromwell's attempts to formally establish a University for the North in Durham were subsumed by politics and North-South rivalries, and it was not until 1832, as the Prince-Bishopric declined lost his powers, was Durham finally endowed with the Castle and lands and granted degree awarding powers by the king as England's third University
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nothing herein contained shall affect or interfere with the rights and privileges granted by charter or Act of Parliament to the University of Durham
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that the Bishop of Durham do in future hold the castle of Durham in trust for the University of Durham
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London offers a scene and status unrivalled by any other city. UCL, England's third oldest university, is at the heart of what has been described as 'the knowledge capital of the world'.
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Queen's University Belfast was founded by Royal Charter in 1845. One of three Queen's Colleges in Ireland, with the others being in Cork and Galway, it became a university in its own right in 1908.
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Together they will ensure that Wales's oldest university will be well placed to survive the challenges of the twenty-first century – Aberystwyth's third century of existence.
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