Talk:List of oldest universities in continuous operation/Archive

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Bologna vs Paris[edit]

Bologna is considered the fisrt western university, I don't see the point about writing about the controversion with Paris (does it really exsist? Everybody accepts Bologna, even the french. I don't see why we have to write about that, with trivial things like "many people, expecially in paris, quibble...." ????? We missed a good point: Bologna was a "free and indipendent" university, Paris a university of the Church and Monarchy.... In this sense, Bologna is more a genuine university than Paris.

removed the paragraph in the header. That place is inappropriate, the claim was unsourced, and it used weasel words. CapnZapp (talk) 13:36, 31 August 2008 (UTC)

As I understand it, Salamanca is the first university to have a certain foundation date, as it is the first university to have a charter (in Europe). Why is Bologna listed as unquestionably being the oldest university in the Western world, and why does it not have the disclaimer "date uncertain"? Where is the citation? Joe0622 (talk) 15:10, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

Also, if there is a dispute as to whether Bologna or Paris is the oldest university, shouldn't Paris at least be listed before Oxford, as number 2? As far as I know, there is still a debate among medievalists (historians specializing in the Middle Ages) as to which university was founded first. Note that a list of medieval universities in the article "University" places Paris between Bologna and Oxford, with TWO references. Also, the argument about a "free" university being more authentic than one associated with the Church is groundless, as universities grew out of the monastery schools, and so are religious institutions in origin. Joe0622 (talk) 15:18, 23 September 2008 (UTC)


This page suffers a good deal from lack of realism. The actual date a University started to function is often rather hazy and differs a good deal from legend or from the date its ancestor-institution was founded. For example, it is generally admitted today that Oxford's foundation can't be precisely dated, but must lie somewhere in the mid-to-late 12th century. I know that's less fun than a legendary date.

Likewise, hair-splitting is pointless: the notion that a college could be empowered give the bachelor's degree is a modern American one; by European terms, Harvard had already adopted the powers (if not the style) of a University in 1642. No doubt it thought of itself as the germinal college of a New Cambridge University or such-like. Pennsylvania was simply the first American institution to call itself a university; but neither it nor Harvard nor any of the four other American colleges at the time was nearly big or diverse enough to be like a true European University.

In short: a lot of trees, not much forest. The truth is usually a lot less photgenetic than soundbites. (How's that for a mixed metaphor!)

--User:Doops, 22:39, 10 Apr 2004

A corner case[edit]

The university of Zadar was founded in 1396, but between 1807 and 2002 the academic facilities in the city weren't under the Zadar university. That is, there was continuous operation of university facilities, but not under a single name. Although the title of this article tries to eliminate the corner cases, it doesn't exactly succeed... --Shallot 19:36, 21 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Another one[edit]

Uppsala University more or less ceased operations after its leader and primary backer, archbishop Jakob Ulvsson, stepped down, in 1515. A few years later, it was completely dormant. The university was revived just before 1600 (by order dated in 1595 (following a decision in 1593...)). This is by no means shady history - if you know Swedish, check the official home page of the university [1] - OlofE 19:47, 21 Apr 2004 (UTC)


Added by an anonymous user: Nalanda University, Bihar, India originated in the 5th century BC, but destroyed by Muslim invaders in the 12th century AD

Maybe it's not obvious, but this title is supposed to mean "in continuous operation and still running". The latter obviously doesn't qualify, and though seventeen centuries of existence are impressive, it's impertinent to this page. --Shallot 10:30, 24 Apr 2004 (UTC)

How old the university has to be to be added here?[edit]

The list of medieval universities that is refered from this article ends up with Dublin university that is still operating. It is not included here. BTW i add the Vilnius University founded in 1579, approved by the bull of the pope Gregory XIII. One of the first universities in eastern Europe, 4th observatory in the world and only a mere article in the wikipedia.

I have some doubts about Al Azhar University[edit]

According to Wikipedia article itself: "Al Azhar University is connected to the mosque in Cairo named to honor Fatima Az-Zahraa, the daughter of Muhammad, from whom the Fatimid Dynasty claimed descent. The mosque was built in two years from 971 CE. The school of theology (madrassa) connected with it was founded in 988 as an Ismaili Shia school, but it later became a Sunni school, which it remains to this day." How could madrassa qualify as a university? On these grounds any religious school in a large city where a theology faculty will appear later in history should be considered "University"...

In my view this is an islamic school, but not a university. It has no other fields of research/teaching but Islam --- no sciences, no humanities/philologies, no jurisprudence, no economics, no medicine, nothing. This should not be listed under "university" and, in fact should not be listed at all in my view of the matter. 15:36, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
It's true that Al Azhar University was a theology institute (islamic school) before 1960s. The same were many other universities. When Oxford was estalished, it was far from univeristy which we mean today. And west and east use different words to express and different standards to judge university. As for modern univerity we mean today, before 1500 there were actually no universites. So I do not agree to mark through the charater Al Azhar University. However, I can accept to mark it with slash charaters to show difference from the "univeristy" in western standards. Araorld 07:11, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)

- the term 'madrassah' means school genius. the term itself does not differentiate between large universities and corner room qur'aan schools. it merely means 'school'. this topic line that only includes western schools built during the european medieval era is dubious at best. the entire title should be changed to Oldest European Universities. how typically eurocentric ..

- There is no room for doubts. Al Azhar was from her Ismaili beginnings a school of higher education. From the Maghreb to the Mashreq students came to hear the lectures delivered by teachers, who held a "chair". Of course the most important subjects were theology and law, but that's no difference to Bologna or Paris.

- There was no distinction between 'worldy' sciences and religious sciences in Islam and in the Caliphates. Al-Azhar and Qarawiyin studied religious and secular sciences from the beginning in unison. To study the worldly sciences was seen as religious. The dichotomy only existed in european minds. Aaliyah Stevens

---If we are going to use theology as a standard to rule out Al-Azhar we will also need to look very hard Bologna, Paris, Oxford, Cambridge etc., as their early curriculum was exactly the same to be found in Muslim schools of the era, that is a heavy doss of theology and law leavened by bits of science and medicine. I am fine by this standard but let us hold all schools to it. Harvard was a "seminary" if I am not mistaken. 09:06, 26 August 2007 (UTC)ahassan05

About traditional Chinese academy of Nanjing University[edit]

Nanjing University is originated in 258, modern incarnation founded 1902. There are many articles about the ancient history of Nanjing University and it is also recorded in many official documents published before 1949, including The History of National Central University published in 1930. After 1949 when Chinese Communist Party controlled mainland China, and Central University Changed the named to Nanjing University, the government and the university in mainland China began to deny traditional Chinese culture and the continous history.

Nanjing University has been continued for over 1700 years since it was established by Kingdom Wu in 258, with breaks caused by changes of dynasties. After going through many dynasties, it became modern college from traditional Chinese academy in 1902 and became modern university in the early 1920s. In the dynasties that Nanjing is the capital, it is the highest institution of learning in ancient Chinese Kingdom and was called Nanjing Taixue(南京太学), Nanjing Guozixue(南京国子学), or Nanjing Guozijian(南京国子监), etc., in different periods. In English, the name Nanjing Imperial Central College expresses them perfectly. Someone may say that they prefer to use University instead of College here. OK, no big difference. When Nanjing was not the capital of kingdom, Imperial Central College was changed to Nanjing College(江宁府学, Jiangning Fuxue is the most familiar name in Chinese). In 1902, when new modern education system was adopted in China, the government in Nanjing established modern college of Sanjiang Normal College (三江师范学堂) to replace traditional Chinese academy of Nanjing College. After the Republic of China replaced the Qing Dynasty in 1912, Nanjing Higher Normal Institute(南京高等师范学校) was established to replace former Sanjiang Normal College and changed the name to Central University(中央大学)in 1928. Central University changed the name to Nanjing University(南京大学) in 1949 when the People's Republic of China replaced the Republic of China.

When Nanjing University was a traditional Chinese academy from 258 to 1902, the subjects to teach generally include literature, philosophy, history, law, politics, etc. After 1902, modern science from western became a very important part to teach. After 1915, Nanjing University became the science center in China, called "The Cradle of Modern Science of China", and became the first modern Chinese university in the early 1920s.

The main article Nanjing University says: Nanjing University ... was founded in 1902 with the initial name Sanjiang Normal College, at the site of the former Imperial Central College originated in 258.. "Founded at the site" is not the same as "in continuous operation since". This University does not satisfy the requirement of continous operation. It should not be listed on this page. --Gene s 06:35, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)
West and east use different word to express university and different standards to judge it. We should respect facts and respect each other. And no one should force others to accept its stardard. I suppose Al Azhar University and Nanjing University face the siliar issue. Maybe if we use the acient Chinese standard of university to judge Oxford, Cambridge, Chinese in 13 century many say they were not university(I mean the Chinese name of university at that time) Araorld 07:11, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I agree with you. The world is consisted of east,west and many other civilizations. There had been many acient Chinese word for "university", such as 太学(Taixue)、Guozijian(国子监), etc. In 19th century there were seveal words for the translation of "university", and finally we use 大学(Daxue) for "university". As for continuous, actually like dynasty changes in acient time, Nanjing university breaked for 3 years when Qing Dynasty changed to be Republic of China. But we admit Nanjing Higher normal Institute was established based on Liangjing Normal College(former Sanjing Normal College). We admit there were breaks, but we do not deny it has been continued to today since AD. 258. Dictioner 10:58, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I disagree. The fact that the institution have been under similar banners that relate to the word 'university' does not necessarily mean it qualifies to be called as one. Although, universities are not entirely a western concept, I believe that today's universities have been modeled through the growth of the then medieval universities of Europe. Erehtsti 12:28, 17 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I would tend to agree. The criterion for a modern university is being formulated by Western standards in this article, and this should not be seen as the sole criterion. Universities do change their names, and do change their physical location over time. This does not mean they are not in continous operation either.--Huaiwei 07:54, 8 February 2006 (UTC)
This article has the unmistakable stench of Euro-centric bias to it, like so many other articles in Wikipedia. It's really unfortunate. Harburg (talk) 04:46, 18 February 2009 (UTC)

It is plenty obvious that the exclusion of Al-Azhar University from the list was done for purely propaganda reasons. It doesn't fit the enforced paradigm to place this institution at the top of a list that contains names such as Bologna, Paris and Oxford. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:34, 11 September 2007 (UTC)


The world is consisted of east,west and many other civilizations. Western stardard of acient university is only one form of university. We should respect each other. The civilizations in the world are diversified, plentiful and wonderful.Dictioner 10:58, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I suppose the article defines university in European custom which is accepted world wide today. Actually in Yu period before 2200 BC, there was a higher education institute called 上癢(Shangyang) in China. The Imperial Nanjing University(南京太學) is in fact a result of the evolution of Shangyang. The Imperial Nanjing University was originally founded in 258 AD, and it became the world's first institution combining education and research in 470 AD in Nanchao era when it's called 總明觀(Zongmingguan) in Chinese. Furthermore, several fields including literature and history became the earliest independent subjects in the imperial Nanjing University in and after 438 AD and the Nanjing University became the first university with different faculties/majors in the world during Southern Dynasty(南朝). Many famous scholars and scientists including Zu Chongzhi were faculty members of the ancient Nanjing University.
In the western world, the first modern university combining education and research is generally referred to be Universität zu Berlin founded by Wilhelm von Humboldt in 1810, more than 1550 years later after Nanjing University became a comprehensive higher institution of education and research. I'm not coming here to ignore the enormous and incomparable contribution of the European and American countries especially Britain, Germany, France, USA..., to the progress of the world in the recent several hundred years, the modern era till today. I just stand out to remind the world not to ignore that there were other kinds of higher institutes of learnings, civilizations ... --AlumniofChengHo 18:28, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

How about including the Guinness-recognized world's oldest?[edit]

Yesterday I created a stub article for the University of Karueein (the spelling in the Guinness Book of World Records,I also noted other spelling encountered on Google).It's a similar institution to Al-Azhar,and older...I don't know if the "oldest" claims of Al-Azhar rest on more continuous operation or on no more than hype.In any case,whoever takes care of this list should do some verify whether the institution meets the criteria and if so,add them.--Louis E./ 19:57, 3 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Minor Matter of Diction[edit]

"And despite its name, Harvard is in fact presently a university." I changed "presently" to "currently." Presently means "in a short while."

that's just desperately pretentious isn't it? It isn't even true, really. In terms of the sense to which you refer, presently actually means "without delay", but loads of people use the term to mean "at present". I've changed it back to "presently". I'll quote from merriam webster online "Since this sense has been in continuous use since the 15th century, it is not clear why it is objectionable.". Of course, by "continuous" they may mean "punctuated". Who can say?
I think it would make more sense to insert a new header only if you're starting a new discussion topic. I deleted the inserted header so that your comment immediately follows the text it's commenting on, and indented the comment. And a note to both writers above: It's customary to sign your texts with four tildes, which produces your name and the time, like this: Teemu Leisti 21:57, 15 Mar 2005 (UTC)

related: List of oldest higher learning institutions in continuous operation[edit]

As from the above discussions, it will we help us get the whole picture if the article List of oldest higher learning institutions in continuous operation (or ever existed) is created. Casestud 07:40, 30 May 2005 (UTC)

Entry missing![edit]

There is an entry missing between the followings:

University of Poitiers, Poitiers, France, founded in 1431 and University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland, founded in 1451

In fact, the Unversity of Catania, Italy has been founded in 1434 by Alfonso d'Aragona king of Spain and Sicily.


Mostly POV?[edit]

I noticed a few edits ago, somebody removing a university because it had been closed for two years in the 1890s due to a war. The problem is that all old universities, including Bologna and Paris, have had breaks in their continuity because of war, political unrest or plague. The University of Paris was closed during the University of Paris strike of 1229 for two years, with students going elsewhere, then suppressed during the French revolution. It was then re-opened but from 1808 until 1896 absorbed into the superstructure of the University of France and finally divided into thirteen different universities in 1970. I think the University of Bologna was closed for a couple of years a few occasions during the Middle Ages. I don't think one can deny a strong degree of continuity in these cases, but they haven't been "in continuous operation", strictly speaking. It is really a matter of debate what "in continuous operation" means, and if strictly adhered to, to the degree of excluding any university with any break in its operation (rather than a break where it is debatable whether it is even the same institution at all), this will probably exclude many important medieval or early modern universities which have been closed for a few years at some point for some reason, and the list would just end up as a kind of curiosity list.

I would suggest moving this to List of universities according to date of foundation, and in each case add notes on breaks in continuity of one kind or the other, and include those universities founded during the Middle Ages which are no longer in existence. An end-date at 1800 might be workable, with a division into more than one list as an alternative. From a historical point of view such a list would be of some interest. The current list really is not. It is mostly an arena for slow POV warring. u◦p◦p◦l◦a◦n◦d 09:45, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

I believe the list is fine as it is. Revert warring affects every second article, amounting to little but intermittent editing in this case. This is hardly a serious reason to destroy the established list. --Ghirla | talk 10:09, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

Kant University[edit]

In 1945 Kant University was not closed, but renamed Kaliningrad Teacher's Institute. In the USSR institutes were not only scientific, but educational institutions just like Western universities.--Nixer 00:13, 4 March 2006 (UTC)

Talk:Kant Russian State University is the proper place to argue. There have been no lack of editors who tried to split the article into two, as they see no connection between historic German and modern Russian universities whatever. Furthermore, it is Moscow University that's officially recognized as the first Russian university. Please don't edit this list frivolously. --Ghirla -трёп- 08:26, 4 March 2006 (UTC)

University of Pennsylvania[edit]

The University of Pennsylvania is traditionally considered the oldest University in the United States, founded in 1740. See the article on Penn for details on this debate between Penn, Harvard, William & Mary and others. 19:35, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

According to University of Pennsylvania, they claim both the rough definition of a multi faculty college to be a university, and the official status in 1779 to be their university starting date. Interestingly the page has College of William and Mary to be officially a university in 1779. How do you split when they were both given in the same year. Considering the timeframes for European Universities, this kind of splitting hairs is very minor indeed. As a non-involved party I think the current revision, "U.S.: Harvard University, 1636, although the College of William and Mary was the first college in the U.S. to achieve university status, in 1779" displays two of the colonial colleges whose academic heritage was started well before U Penn and hence have the academic, if not the defined oldest heritage and warrant being listed in preference to U Penn as the US contribution to the page. Ansell 12:14, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

Let's not forget that Penn has not been in continuous operation since it was founded, or even since it was refounded. It stopped operating during the Revolution, as did most of the other institutions that existed at the time. When it opened again, other colonial universities did as well. --~~

University of Toulouse[edit]

The institution was "created" in 1229 as far as french control is concerned, but I have heard that it inherited something (a didactic structure) created by arabs before (medecine?), which could have been considered as a university as well. 19:05, 1 July 2006 (UTC)

South Asia[edit]

Thomason College, although formally founded in 1847, as the first technical school in South Asia, did not qualify as a university in the strictest sense of that term at least then or even much later. Serampore College was formally authorized to grant its degrees in theology and arts only, and in 1857, with the establishment of the University of Calcutta, became a constituent college of that university, which conducted its arts courses. Athough Serampore had 'university status' i.e., right to conduct its own courses, and grant its degrees in theology, it was not a full fledged multi disciplinary 'university', per se. So both Serampore College and University of Calcutta should be included in that list. LordGulliverofGalben

Istanbul University[edit]

Istanbul University, as one of the oldest educational institutions, not only of Turkey, but also of the world, was founded when Mehmet the Conqueror conquered Istanbul. Education began to be available in theological schools ("medrese/madrasah" as they were then called) and, until the end of the 16th century, these schools were instrumental in educating the ruling cadres of the Ottoman society. However, when the "madrasahs" were no longer able to meet the needs of the modern world, a restructuring process began, and as a result, the institutions of higher education called "Darülfünun," the core of Istanbul University, were established. Through the educational reforms, introduced by the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk , the " madrasahs" were abolished in 1924. As a first step in modernization, the Istanbul Darülfünun was established, comprising the departments of medicine, law, literature, theology, and science. The institution was renamed �Istanbul University� in accordance with Ataturk's University Reform, and higher education was restructured in Turkey to meet the demands of contemporary society. During these early years, Istanbul University welcomed foreign academics who fled Germany as teaching staff. cited:

"must satisfy the definition of a university at the time of founding"[edit] should that mean in order for it to be listed here, it should be called a "university", not a college, institute or school? --Howard the Duck 14:28, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

I think yes. --Ghirla -трёп- 14:35, 11 October 2006 (UTC)
Then the University of Santo Tomas should be the one listed for the Philippines since they became a university first on 1645 as opposed to the University of San Carlos (1948), with no notes whatsover. --Howard the Duck 14:47, 11 October 2006 (UTC)
Incorrect. Santo Tomas started out as something organized as a college first, and not a university. There was already an existing university (Royal and Pontifical too) by the time the college that would become UST got its university charter. If you go by that, then UST did not satisfy the definition of a university at the time of founding. There is no ontological difference from UST's point of founding and the institution it was when it got its charter, and the institution it is today. It is still the same institution that was started in 1611. However, there is an older EXTANT institution which was founded in 1595, the University of San Carlos in Cebu. There is also no ontological difference between the San Carlos at the time of its founding and it today. Rmcsamson 14:20, 12 October 2006 (UTC)
Then virtually no university that started as a "university". All began as colleges/institutes/schools. UST was founded as a college, then became a university is 1645, then had a virtual continuous existence broken only by the Philippine Revolution and the Pacific War. USC became a university after the Pacific War, during in which much of its existence it was a college. Argh I'm now confused because the criterion on this page is that it should be a university at its foundation, and that it is in continuous operation. --Howard the Duck 15:32, 12 October 2006 (UTC)
Which brings me back to my point. Since that criterion doesn't seem to work for quite a number of universities, we can probably check what both were at their point of foundation. Both started as colleges. Both were set out to be educational institutions (with the Colegio de San Idelfonso which is now USC being groomed as a school outside Manila, which already had the San Ignacio). And today, they are still, ontologically, the same institutions as they were before. Rmcsamson 17:09, 12 October 2006 (UTC)
We need a third opinion on this matter. How about First university in the Philippines like what they did on First university in the United States? --Howard the Duck 17:22, 12 October 2006 (UTC)
There's no dispute that the first university in the Philippines was the Universidad de San Ignacio, founded in 1590 by Fr. Antonio Sedeño, S.J. It began as the Colegio de Manila, and became the first Pontifical and Royal university in the Philippines and in Asia.Rmcsamson 17:28, 12 October 2006 (UTC)
Do any of the present universities descend from the Universidad de San Ignacio? --Howard the Duck 17:34, 12 October 2006 (UTC)
Nope. It closed down in the 1770s after being operated by the government, and for a bit, the Dominicans. Hehehe. Rmcsamson 18:09, 12 October 2006 (UTC)
So it doesn't count as "continuous operation." Maybe it was sabotaged by the Dominicans so that UST will make it in the list lol. --Howard the Duck 06:43, 13 October 2006 (UTC)
Actually, the San Ignacio (not the San Carlos today) ceased operating after that. Rmcsamson 14:09, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

copied from above!: - There was no distinction between 'worldy' sciences and religious sciences in Islam and in the Caliphates. Al-Azhar and Qarawiyin studied religious and secular sciences from the beginning in unison. To study the worldly sciences was seen as religious. The dichotomy only existed in european minds. Aaliyah Stevens 15:37, 21 November 2006 (UTC)

Sungkyunkwan University??[edit]

I was just looking at random schools because I did not feel like writing my essay. Sungkyunkwan University says that it was established in 1398. It got closed down in 1910. But I don't know if it was "reopened" or "established" in 1947. But the present day SUnkyunkwan university is at the same location as the old one. 05:46, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

 Sungkyunkwan University had been a tradional Universirty in East Asia,
  It had been become modern 3 year unversity in 1895.  Unfortunatey, korea was ruled  by   japan in 1910.
 Japanese changed its name as KyongHakWon ,After liberation in 1945 sungkyunkwan name is 
  Of course The campus is located in  the original same place.  —Preceding unsigned comment added by Cozzios (talkcontribs) 14:07, 28 July 2008 (UTC) 

External Link?[edit]

Unless we're going to have links to every university mentioned (which would be redundant as this article links to the articles for the universities, which in turn link to their external page), is it not a bit pointless to have one solitary external link at the bottom, as is currently the case? Does anyone agree? Will2710 03:29, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

Kyiv Mohyla University[edit] Was founded 1632, so it's older than one in Lviv.

This was not a university (rather a religious school) and it has not existed continuously all this time. --Ghirla -трёп- 08:40, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

Spanish list[edit]

This list of Universities differsdrasticaly from its counterpart in Wikipedia's Spanish version. This should be looked into.

The above user (myself) used at the time IP The article still differs considerably with the Spanish-language page and, for that matter, with the featured German one. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:33, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

To see: "First university on the American continent".

Jagiellonian University[edit]

The university degradated and was re-established 1400. It didn't work during WWII.Xx236 16:41, 20 February 2007 (UTC)

List conversion[edit]

I just finished converting the Founded before 1500 section from a list to a table format. Could someone proofread it please? Thanks. - Sohailstyle 02:30, 24 February 2007 (UTC)

England and Scotland[edit]

Is there some logic to putting the locations of UK universities as "England" and "Scotland" rather than "UK" (with a more-widely recognised flag) apart from dislike between the English and Scots? The flags and countries shown are all the modern locations of the Universities, and do not always correspond to the country where the University was founded. Please explain.

Rnt20 08:30, 20 April 2007 (UTC)

This is a terribly difficult area throughout Wikipedia, and I am quite frankly sick to the back teeth of it, but just let me explain part of my reasoning in this case. The Union Flag was invented in the early 17th century, and only reached its present design in 1801. To apply it to the High Middle Ages is just bizarre in the extreme, and frankly laughable in a supposèd encyclopaedia. Secondly, both England and Scotland (and their flags) still exist, unlike some other political units from that era.
(Please note: do not start duplicate discussions on different Talk pages; and please desist from using inflamitory and childish statements about people "disliking" each other. That is for the school playground, not Wikipedia.) --Mais oui! 08:37, 20 April 2007 (UTC)

British universities[edit]

Why are the British universities classed by kingdom and the rest classed by modern state? --Error 19:18, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

Not sure what you're talking about. The British universities are not classed by kingdom. Badgerpatrol 09:19, 15 June 2007 (UTC)
We have:
1167 Flag of England Oxford, England
1209 Flag of England Cambridge, England University of Cambridge
1212 Flag of Spain Valladolid, Spain University of Valladolid
1303 Flag of Italy Rome, Italy University of Rome La Sapienza
It is either "Oxford, United Kingdom" (with the modern state) or "Rome, Papal States" with the state at the time of foundation.
--Error 13:46, 17 June 2007 (UTC)
OK, my confusion was caused by the fact that you seemed to be suggesting that England and Scotland are different kingdoms. I don't know enough about the Universities of Rome or Valladolid to comment with authority, but your contention (correct me if I'm wrong) seems to be that is inconsistent that those two are labelled as being in modern Spain and Italy (when they were founded in what was then the papal states), whilst British universities are labelled as being in either England or Scotland. In fact, it is not inconsistent at all. My understanding is that the papal states no longer exist and that the Pope no longer exercises civil control over any (major) territory outside of the Vatican. Although their Wikipedia articles are rather short and unenlightening, I do rather get the impression that the Universities of Rome and Valladolid fall under the jurisdiction of the governments of Italy and Spain, and not the Vatican. England and Scotland (et al.) are indeed united (to a considerable extent) under a common banner as components of the United Kingdom. But Scotland and England still exist as separate countries with clearly defined borders, legal systems, governments, and - important here- separate education systems. The Scottish university system is not the same as that in England. Scottish students do not sit the same entrance exams as English students. The two systems are separately funded. The key point is- to my knowledge, the papal states no longer exist in the modern world. Manifestly, Scotland and England do still exist separately. If you can provide evidence that the Universities of Rome and Valladolid are still administered by the Vatican under the banner of the papal states, then I suppose it's perfectly logical to change their location to "Papal State" rather than "Italy" and "Spain". But please provide a reference to back up this assertion. All the best, Badgerpatrol 00:51, 18 June 2007 (UTC)
If the independence of the British educational systems is so wide, the links should go to Education in England and Education in Scotland (or similar titles) to make it clearer. In Spain, the education is devolved to the autonomous communities of Spain but I don't know the details for each of the regions. Probably the German and Swiss universities are under the local sub-federal authorities. Should they be listed with them instead of Germany and Switzerland? --Error 22:06, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

I see that this subject has been brought up earlier, so I re-grafted the section. --Error 22:06, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

Entirely up to you! I really don't know enough about European education systems or federalised political structures to comment. If you feel the entries for e.g. German and Spanish universities should redirect to the relevant articles (e.g. Education in Bavaria, Education in Andalusia) then go ahead. Although I notice at present that those articles do not currently exist, unlike Education in England and Education in Scotland, which do. I leave it to you to decide what this may mean regarding the status of England and Scotland relative to e.g. German and Spanish provinces. I can certainly say for my part that, whilst I am aware of the nominally federal nature of many mainland European countries, I wonder if the situation there is quite the same as it is in the United Kingdom. The fact is, the University of Aberdeen et al. were founded in what was then Scotland and what now still is Scotland- markedly distinct from the UK, although now a component therein. The University of Oxford et al. were founded in what was then England and what now still is England- markedly distinct from the UK, although now a component therein. These are facts. So long as the article reflects this substantive point, I doubt if I'll have any objection to whatever minor fiddling you wish to do. Badgerpatrol 00:17, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

After reading WP:FLAGS, I think we could remove the flags as too distractive and link to "Education in" if possible. So it would something like:

1150 Paris, France University of Paris Now split among several autonomous universities
1167 Oxford, England, UK University of Oxford Exact date uncertain, founded before 1167 (teaching existed since 1096)

--Error 21:44, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

University of Al Karaouine (Fes, Morocco)[edit]

The quote (with references) from the notes field is Considered as the "oldest existing educational institution in the world" may not be accurate. It may be the oldest University in the world, but there is another claim by Shishi Middle School in China which is a school (hence educational institution) which claims to have been formed in 143BC and is still in existance.

As the guiness book of records and time magazine are both considered reliable resources I have left references in, but added a note onto the end to make a bit more accurate. Bobbacon 07:40, 24 April 2007 (UTC)

Shishi "Middle School" by its very definition is not a university, or centre for 'higher' education. It is already listed as the oldest school in the world. -- (talk) 15:23, 25 April 2008 (UTC)

The oldest university on the American continent[edit]

  • The Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (Autonomous University of Santo Domingo) was founded in 1914, not in 1538. This university, in current Dominican Republic, expects to be a “primatial university of America” in spite of the fact that it holds, against every Latin American legislation of the time, a foundation illegally authorised by the Pope in 1538; it has been officially recognised by the monarchy just in 1747 like "Universidad de Santo Tomás de Aquino"; it has been prohibited by Royal Letter of 1758 the use of that false title insulting universities of Lima and Mexico. As if it were not enough, the Santo Tomás University was definitively extinguished in 1824, having no relationships with the current one (founded in 1914), because it is a new and different institution that seeks to recover for itself its colonial predecessor's history. The Universidad de San Marcos (San Marcos University) of Lima was also, and continue being, the oldest university in the world out of the European continent, founded on 12th May 1551, and for this reason it takes the deserved title of “dean of America” (the oldest, not necessarily the first), since it is the only university that survives, uninterruptedly, since the XVIth century. (Miguel Angel del Castillo M., 28-VII-07)
Why don't you change it then? The oldest university in the "Americas" should be Universidad de San Marcos (Lima), not the Universidad de Santo Domingo. Go ahead and change it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:32, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
You are basing your argument on a mix of unsustained assumptions and hometown pride. The university of Santo Domingo (which today goes by the name of Autonomous University of Santo Domingo) was authorized to operate as a 'university' under the name Santo Tomás de Aquino by Pope Paul III's bull "In Apostolatus Culmine" decreed in Oct 28, 1538. Before that date, the Dominican order ran a 'school of higher studies' since 1518. The Haitian government then occupying Santo Domingo closed the university in 1824, and the government re-opened it (even some of the former professors resumed their lectures)in 1854. Just because there is a restructuring of the general curriculum (your 1914 allusion), a change in name, or a move to a newly-built campus (1950s), doesn't mean the former institution has been 'extinguished'. Your argument would mean that Columbia University has nothing to do with Kings College, or that Harvard is not the inheritor of New College. You do a venerable institution a great disfavor, as well as elevate pseudo-history and hearsay to to the ranks of documented historical facts; most scholars agree that the university founded in Santo Domingo (which by the way is the oldest European city in America) in 1538 is the same one which operates today, regardless of a 35 year hiatus. I have therefore modified the post. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:28, 9 January 2008 (UTC)


I request this list to be semi-protected. The definitive list of pre-1500 universities was determined more than a year ago. I am tired of removing the same entries (mostly "Islamic learning schools" such as Sankore Madrasah) over and over again. The pre-1500 list is complete, and attempts to readd institutions that had been removed a dozen times before have no merit at all. --Ghirla-трёп- 07:54, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

I think the complete absence of any Islamic universities (regardless of the "must have satisfied the definition of a university at founding" crap) is a mistake. At the least they (and any other 'universities' around the world that were ignored or removed) should be mentioned along with a disclaimer that they weren't the same as universities today, though none of the early ones were. The eurocentric standards used in this article currently greatly reduce its merits. No mention at all of any institutions of higher learning before the University of Bologna is misleading. Where are Al-Karaouine and Al-Azhar? Even if you apply the standard that degrees must have been given for schools to qualify as universities (I hope there is more to it than that, otherwise its BS), these deserve some mention at the least. - Anon —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:31, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

Religious schools with no diploma are not universities (even if some of them have accepted the western universities standards over the last century). End of the topic. --Ghirla-трёп- 12:42, 12 November 2007 (UTC)
By the definition of western university standards I cannot see any reason for including any of the older Universities at the time of their founding, The only sensible definition is that of an institution of higher education whose qualifications convey some measure of academic achievement--Daffodillman (talk) 19:11, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

Suggest removing the term 'university'[edit]

I suggest completely removing the term 'university', in favour of something like 'institutions of higher education', which can then be defined as something like 'institutions for the teaching of, or study and research by, adults'. Adult can be defined by the culture at the time and place of foundation. Thus we distinguish these institutions, which admittedly MAY accept SOME minors, from 'schools', that PRIMARILY admit minors. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:44, 21 October 2007 (UTC)


Is the University of Timbuktu really in continuous operation? The article on the University only uses the past tense, which does not imply continuous operation. Furthermore, the Timbuktu Educational Foundation webpage doesn't discuss the University in the present tense except for some weekend classes. Either the Wikipedia article on the University is remarkably poor, or the University does not operate as a university really does. 04:42, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

I agree and removed the University of Timbuktu from the list. [2] states the goal "REOPEN THE UNIVERSITY OF TIMBUKTU WITH ITS CLASSICAL METHODS OF TEACHING". Seems to imply that it is not currently open. Chrisahn 13:29, 7 November 2007 (UTC)
Please read my comment about semi-protection above. Ever since its inception the page has been plagued by fanatics who fail to consult the introduction and add all sorts of religious schools which had no notion of academic diplomas and can't be considered univserities in any sense of the word. --Ghirla-трёп- 12:44, 12 November 2007 (UTC)

Timbuktu itself is a little hole in the desert at the moment with a couple of mudhuts and passing traders livening things up a bit. There is a VERY extinct school of learning there that functions more like a museum of decaying Islamic texts now, which the Malian, South African and other governments are helping to rejuvenate. It is dead. One may as well count Plato's Academy. However, I am interested to know why the University of Parma is not on the list. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:14, 4 December 2008 (UTC)

University Focus[edit]

Perhaps a foolish idea, but worth exploring: Maybe a column to the chart should be added that contains the overall focus of the medieval universities i.e. Salerno with Medicine, Paris with Theology, Bologna with Law.--Sicilian-American (talk) 17:22, 8 December 2007 (UTC)


I edited the list. Paris was not founded in 1257 ! It is well-known that the University existed since - at least - the XIIth century. (talk) 21:58, 18 January 2008 (UTC)


Someone has supplied the following information about the University of Modena in the notes section: "The medieval university disappeared by 1338 and was replaced by "three public lectureships" which did not award degrees and were suspended in the 1590s "for lack of money". The university was not reestablished in Modena until the 1680s and did not receive an imperial charter until 1685."

Given this, I have removed the University of Modena from the list, as the list is concerned with oldest universities in continuous operation - if we allow Modena in, we have to let in all sorts of other universities too. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:35, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

I think Modena's university should be allowed, because it is in continuous operation. Also in other Universities teachings had been suspended for a while (see Paris, Napoli, Siena, Padova, Pavia, Prague, Krakov, Heidelberg, Ferrara, Turin and many more).
If we do not allow Modena, we should remove also other universities ;)
BTW, I'll ask my brother if he can get more infos in the university, or I'll get some more infos the next time I go to the library

University of Copenhagen[edit]

Why is the University of Copenhagen not included? It should satisfy the criteria as well as other medieval universities, with its four schools. If it can't for some reason go in the pre-1500 list, it should at least be listed as the oldest university in Denmark. (talk) 16:10, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

University of Montpellier and University of Toulouse[edit]

Same question as for the Copenhagen one. Montpellier was founded between 1220-1289 but it's not included into this list ? and Toulouse which was founded in 1229 as part of the treaty of Paris ending the Albigensian Crusade ? (talk) 19:00, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

Montpellier and Toulouse were suppressed in 1793, as were all provincial French universities. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:17, 9 April 2009 (UTC)

# 4 Islamic religious institutions[edit]

This section seems overly specific, if not biased. The article is on "oldest universities", period.

Skaizun (talk) 21:24, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

I suggest this this list be merged with the main list, to do otherwise is just a cultural bias.--Daffodillman (talk) 19:02, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

University of Parma[edit]

A book I have states that the university of Parma was first in the West. It has extremely precise dates for the first ten, which makes me more than suspicious - it seems to be a gullible and unreliable source. However, upon checking it does seem that the university of Parma is very old indeed. Why is it not on the list? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:21, 4 December 2008 (UTC)

Image copyright problem with File:Logocomuneperugia.png[edit]

The image File:Logocomuneperugia.png is used in this article under a claim of fair use, but it does not have an adequate explanation for why it meets the requirements for such images when used here. In particular, for each page the image is used on, it must have an explanation linking to that page which explains why it needs to be used on that page. Please check

  • That there is a non-free use rationale on the image's description page for the use in this article.
  • That this article is linked to from the image description page.

This is an automated notice by FairuseBot. For assistance on the image use policy, see Wikipedia:Media copyright questions. --23:16, 5 January 2009 (UTC)

CONTINUOUS operation[edit]

Could we have a consensus to remove Angers, Provence, Poitiers, and Nantes? These universities had interruptions of a century after the French Revolution.

Also, Wuerzburg and Lund should be removed for lack of continuity. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:08, 9 April 2009 (UTC)

Academy of Gundishapur[edit]

The above is listed under "Islamic religious institutions", but its founding predates the birth of Muhammad by about 80 years, and the founding of Islam (at least according to standard secular history) by 120. What should be done? --Stephan Schulz (talk) 23:49, 18 May 2009 (UTC)

According to the Wikipedia article on the Academy of Gundishapur, this academy had "fallen into ruins" by the 10th century. I would submit that it doesn't belong on the list of oldest universities in CONTINUOUS OPERATION at all. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:23, 22 May 2009 (UTC)

Two Flags[edit]

Charles University in Prague was founded by Emperor Charles IV. of Luxembourg as the first university in the Holy Roman Empire. Since the Kingdom of Bohemia was part of the Empire I have added the Empires flag to the Bohemian crest which, out of respect for the Kingdom and the Czech University, ought to remain.--Marschner (talk) 14:04, 22 May 2009 (UTC)

Change of title?[edit]

What about adding to the title "or revived" ? That would end the recurrent problem of whether a university that had been closed down for a while has a right to be in the list.--Marschner (talk) 17:52, 30 May 2009 (UTC)

Listing Name of University First[edit]

Perhaps the name of the university should be listed before the nations (founding and current). It is after all about the Universities themselves, not the founding countries.

Added Sungkyunkwan University[edit]

This is one of oldest university/ higher educational institution of Korea.--Korsentry 06:34, 1 July 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by KoreanSentry (talkcontribs)