Friday, 6 January 2012

Oldest University in the World

To devise a list of the oldest University in the world, we need to understand what a university is. There have been learning centers for students all around the world for many centuries, ever since knowledge started spreading, but not all olden learning centers can be classified as Universities. In order to be classified as a University, an educational institution should be the oldest institution in its region. Moreover, it should be enjoying a more or less uninterrupted functionality since the time it was created.

There are many ancient learning and educational institutions which do not qualify as Universities today, so therefore they are not a part of this list. Also, if an educational institution was started as a University many centuries ago, it is more likely to be classified as a University today. These articles on top 10 Universities in the world and best Universities in the world will also help you learn more about the most prestigious Universities to pursue higher education.

Top 10 Oldest Universities in the World

All the Universities mentioned here are hundreds of years old, and are well-known and prestigious learning centers. Students from all over the world regularly come to these Universities to pursue their higher education. Here is a brief list made in search of the oldest University in the world.

University of Al-Karaouine

Also known as the University of Al-Qarawiyyin, this was founded in 859 AD by a woman called Fatima Al-Fihri. Located in Fes, Morocco this is the oldest Madrassa in the world, and is revered by the Muslim world in particular. The Guinness Book of World Records has recorded this as the oldest continuously-operating degree-granting University in the world. Thus, this is the answer to the question Which is the oldest known university in the world.

Al-Azhar University

Located in Cairo, Egypt this is the second oldest degree-granting University in the world. It is also considered as one of the premier educational institutions in the Islamic world, and was founded around 972 AD. The University teaches a unique blend of modern science and Quranic sciences and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad.


This is not an independently standing University by itself, it is simply a series of Universities started by Khwaja Nizam Al-Mulk, in Iran in the 11th century AD. These Universities eclipsed all other educational centers. The crown jewel in these series of Universities is the Al-Nizammiya of Baghdad, founded in 1065 AD in Dhu'l Qa'da. Other places of operation are Amul, Mosul, Basra, Herat, Damascus and Nishapur. Due to its heritage and history, it cannot be ignored in a list about the oldest University in the world.

University of Bologna 

Being the first University established in the Christian world, the University of Bologna has a rich heritage since it was founded in 1088 AD. The term 'University' was coined due to this prestigious institution, and it was the leading center for higher education, right until the early 20th century. Located in Bologna, Italy, even today the University of Bologna is a much revered and immensely popular center for pursuing higher studies.

University of Paris

This University was founded around 1096 AD, and was one of the premier higher education centers in the world, for the fields of arts, medicine, theology and law. Sadly, the University shut down in 1970, and today it operates as 13 different Universities, by the name of University of Paris I-XIII. Located around the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, this University is also known as the Sorbonne, or the College de Sorbonne.

University of Oxford

Founded in the early 11th century (about the same time as the University of Paris), this University is located in the city of Oxford, England. It is regarded as one of the best places to get higher education today, and it contains about 38 different colleges today, specializing in various fields of study. The University had to be created due to the fact that King Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris. Its worldwide reputation and heritage make it a worthy candidate for this 'Oldest University in the world' list.

University of Montpelier

Though the official founding date is 1150 AD, the teachings in this University began way before that. Located in Montpelier, France, this University focuses mainly on the teachings of science and technology today. Medicine and law are also very sought after courses here, and it was in fact founded by a teacher from the University of Bologna. The University was 're-founded' in the year 1969.

University of Cambridge

This University was formed by some scholars in 1209 AD who left the University of Oxford over a dispute. Consisting of over 31 colleges, this University has a long standing rivalry with the University of Oxford, and is in fact the second oldest University in the English speaking world. Located in the city of Cambridge, England, it is ranked in the top 5 Universities of the world today, and its alumni consists of no less than 87 different Nobel Laureates.

University of Salamanca

This is the oldest University in Spain, and is located in the town of Salamanca, a town west of Madrid. It was established in 1218 AD, and today is the premier University in the world for studying humanities and languages. Christopher Columbus, famously consulted with the scholars from this University when he was seeking a route to the Indies. The divide between the people of Leon and Castile in Spain led to the rise of this University, as the Leonese king Alfonso IX created this University, so that the people of Leon did not have to go to Castile to pursue higher education. This rich history makes it worthy to be a part of this 'Oldest University in the world' list.

University of Padua

A group of scholars broke away from the University of Bologna in search of more academic freedom, and established the University of Padua in 1222 AD. The fields of botany, history and theater are the most well-known and pursued courses here, and this has established its greatness in the educated world. It is therefore, the second oldest University in Italy, and is located in the city of Padua, Italy.

So these were some prestigious answers to the question What are some of the most oldest Universities in the world, and all of these Universities are engulfed in a lot of history and tradition. If you're looking for the oldest University in the world, this article should satiate your needs.

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