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The World's 5 Oldest Universities

BrainGain magazine brings you a list of 5 of the world’s oldest universities still surviving and thriving as centers of knowledge
BY Cherryy Chauhan |   22-12-2016

The word university is derived from a Latin word ‘universitas’ that translates roughly to “the whole, total, the universe, the world.” Acquiring education has been inscribed in the very core of our knowledge driven world. And the major centers for imparting knowledge are international institutes of higher education – the universities.

Many have been founded recently, while a few were established almost a thousand years ago. BrainGain magazine brings you a list of the world’s five oldest universities that have been in continuous operation.

  1. University of Bologna: Italy

    Image credits: N I c o l a
    Established: 1008 AD

    The title of the world’s oldest university in continuous operation goes to Italy’s University of Bologna. The university has 85,000 students enrolled in 11 schools, including its international centre in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Notable alumni of the University of Bologna include popular fashion designer Giorgio Armani, and founder of Ferrari motors, Enzo Ferrari.
  2. University of Oxford: UK

    Image credits: Hugo Pardo Kuklinski Image credits: Jun

    Established: 1096 AD

    Probably the best-known name in the list, the University of Oxford is the oldest university, in the English-speaking world. Consistently ranked in the top 10 of Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings, the University of Oxford has 38 constituent colleges.  The list of notable alumni is rather long, since the university has produced 28 Nobel laureates, and 27 Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom.
  3. University of Salamanca: Spain

    Image credits: Boris Kasimov Image credits: portengaround

    Established: 1134 AD

    Spain’s University of Salamanca secures the spot for the third oldest continuously operating university in the world. Initially recognised as the “General School of the Kingdom,” King Alfonso IV granted it the official title of a university in 1254 AD. With a yearly enrolment of almost 4000 students from across the globe, the University of Salamanca is known for its humanities based courses. Notable alumni include Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, and director Alexander Payne.
  4. University of Cambridge: UK

    Image credits: Kosala Bandara Image credits: llee_wu

    Established: 1209 AD

    Another popular name on the list is of United Kingdom’s University of Cambridge. Founded by an association of scholars who left the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge comprises of 31 constituent colleges, with approximately 20,000 students enrolled in them. Along with the University of Oxford, Cambridge is consistently ranked in the top 10 of the Times Higher Education rankings. 95 Nobel laureates have been affiliated with the Cambridge University as students, faculty or alumni.
  5. University of Padua: Italy

    Image credits: PROGary Bembridge

    Established: 1222 AD

    Italy’s second, and the world’s fifth, oldest university in continuous operation is the University of Padua. Founded by the scholars who left the University of Bologna, the University of Padua started off with traditional faculties of Law, Medicine, Arts and Philosophy, and Sciences, but later incorporated STEM fields as well. Padua is also the world’s first university to create its own botanical garden. Notable alumni include a Prime Minister of Greece, and the first headmaster of Harvard College.



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