10 Oldest Universities In The World 2023/2024

What are the oldest universities in the world? Education is not a new thing but dated back hundreds of years ago and there has been some institution which has been around since this period.

Have you wondered what and where the oldest universities in the world are? If you are curious to know, then you are reading the right article. We have compiled below the highlight of the universities deemed to be the oldest in the world.

Interestingly, some of these universities rated among the top 10 oldest universities in the world have grown to be renowned and forerunners in the modern educational system but not known to many. That is why we have decided to unveil to you in this article the oldest universities in the world.

10 Oldest Universities In The World

Here is the list of the oldest universities in the world currently that have been around for hundreds of years and are ancient landmark which attracts many tourists from around the world aside from their academic services. To know more about these institutions, read about each university below.

Top 10 World Oldest Universities

#1. University Of Bologna

  • Country: Italy 
  • Year Founded: 1088

Italy houses the oldest university in the world and that is the University of Bologna founded by an organized guild of students. Before the modern era, the university initially taught doctorate programmes and students who enrol in this college in its early days studied civil and canon law along with other courses introduced as years goes by.

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Interestingly, this institution is still in operation and it is presently divided into 23 schools with an enrollment of around 85,500.

#2. University of Oxford

  • Country: England 
  • Year Founded: 1096

Historical evidence has dated the establishment of this higher institution to 1096 enlisting this university on the list of the oldest universities in the world. The University of Oxford was founded by King Henry III and he also grants it a royal charter.

The institution is fully functional and has grown to be one of the Best Universities in the World ranked at number four. Another notable occurrence that happened at the University of Oxford is that this University was the one responsible for Bible translation from Latin into the English language.

Presently, the university is a collegiate public research institution that attends to over 20, 000 students.

#3. University of Salamanca

  • Country: Spain 
  • Year Founded: 1134

Taking us further in our discussion is the University of Salamanca in Spain, founded by 1134 but it was given the Royal charter of foundation in 1218 by King Alfonso IX becoming the first higher school of learning in Spain.

However, teaching at the college site kick-started in 1130. The University of Salamanca is fully functional offering 81 different degree courses to around 28,000 students across its nine campuses.

The institution is known to attract students from outside Spain who also come to study for their undergraduate and graduate degree.

#4. University of Paris

  • Country: France 
  • Year Founded: 1150

The University of Paris is not left out among the top 10 oldest universities in the world. The university was functional from 1150 to 1793 and then resumed again from 1806 to 1970 after the operation was suspended from 1793 to 1896 due to the French revolution.

However, in 1970 the university was divided into 13 autonomous universities as a result of the 1968 event. These universities have continued to maintain offer high educational programmes and training which has earned them a high reputation in the country and Europe.

#5. University of Cambridge

  • Country: England 
  • Year Founded: 1209

Taking us further is the University of Cambridge which is one of the prestigious and Best Universities in the World today. This is because the instruction has continued to offer a high-quality standard of education than most of the institutions established after it.

The University of Cambridge was established by a group of scholars who departed from the University of Oxford because of discrepancies and political conflicts. Furthermore, King Henry III granted the university a charter in 1231, as well as the subsequent endorsements of three popes.

Presently, the university is made up of 31 different colleges and six schools offering educational services to around 19,147 students.

#6. University of Padua 

  • Country: Italy 
  • Year Founded: 1222

The University of Padua takes us further in our discussion and comes in at sixth ranking on the ranking of the world’s oldest universities. The university is among the higher school of learning established during the medieval era and it is still functional till date.

The citadel of learning was established as a result of the departure of teachers and students from the University of Bologna in the quest for advanced academic liberty.

Theology and Law were the first courses taught when the institution was established but soon introduced other courses as they advanced. The institution contributed immensely to early research activities in diverse fields, particularly astronomy, medicine, law, and philosophy. The school is accommodating around 62,000 students.

#7. University of Naples Federico II 

  • Country: Italy 
  • Year Founded: 1224

Still, in Italy, we found the next oldest university to be the University of Naples Federico II which came into existence as a result of an imperial charter mandated by Frederick II, the King of Sicily and Holy Roman Emperor.

However, the institution was not born purely because of academic desire but that of politics as much as it was by academia, reason been that Frederick II wanted to be the highest authority of the university and required strict loyalty to the crown from tutors and students.

Presently, the institution has 87 departments and offers over 168-degree programmes.

#8. University of Toulouse  

  • Country: France
  • Year Founded: 1229

The University of Toulouse was established in 1229 as a result of the treaty of Paris which saw Count Raymond VII give up control of the Languedoc province. Theology was taught initially in the institution but later on, medicine and law were included in the university’s programme.

However, in 1969 the University was further split into three distinct institutions, becoming a consortium of research and higher education establishments. Presently, the institution has an enrollment of over 100,000 students including international students.

#9. University of Siena 

  • Country: Italy 
  • Year Founded: 1240

Gradually wrapping up our discussion on the oldest universities in the world with the University of Siena coming in at the number ninth spot. The institution has endured war, changes in authority and suppression. But has over the years flourish to become a strong force among the country’s higher educational institutions.

Among the early courses taught in the school were Law, Latin, Logic and Medicine. Presently, the university is a prestigious institution of learning attending to over 20,000 students annually who enroll in one or more of the institution’s nine different faculties. More so, the university also accepts international students for an exchange programme.

#10. University of Valladolid

  • Country: Spain 
  • Year Founded: 1249

Concluding our discussion and coming at the tenth spot is the University of Valladolid in Spain established in 1249. Upon its establishment, the institution was initially dedicated to teaching basic subjects like grammar, arithmetic, Latin and religious studies.

Other courses such as law, medicine, art and science were added in the early 20th century, as a result of the increasing influx of students.

Today, the University has grown to become one of the foremost institutions in Spain, offering over 100 degree programmes, 17 graduate programmes and 50 master’s degree programmes.

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Here with the information provided, your quest to learn about the top 10 Oldest Universities in the World has been satisfied. However, the majority of the oldest universities in the world have faced reformation and have grown into autonomous colleges or become modernized beyond all recognition.

Nonetheless, we have been able to come up with the ones that are considered to be the top oldest universities in the world. Some of these institutions also attract tourists from around the world who are keen to have a first-hand view of these institutions and to learn of their history while others enroll to study.

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