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9 Oldest Universities In The World

Universities are places of higher learning where people can go to earn their Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in a given subject, depending on the location they are attending. Although most university systems are relatively new, some individual universities have been around for decades or even hundreds of years.

Here are some of the oldest universities in the world:

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1. University of Perugia, 1308

When it comes to attending universities, there is always a struggle to get in. Private universities made it difficult for the everyday person to gain higher education, but that changed when the first public universities started popping up.

The University of Perugia is one of the earliest known in the world, having been founded in 1308. Pope Clement V recognized it as stadium generale after it had been educating people for some time. Not only did a pope see it as the go-to for religious study, but numerous popes have known it as their main place of study.

Luca Pacioli, said to be the ‘father of accounting,’ was once an instructor on the grounds. Currently, the university has about 28,000 students enrolled at a given time.

2. Complutense University of Madrid, 1293

Not only does it claim the ‘most prestigious’ title for universities in Spain, but it is also the largest to exist in the country. Many famous figures have explored its grounds as students from politicians to writers and scientists.

It could also be seen as one of the more progressive institutions on this list. The year 1785 was the first time the university (or any other) ever issued a doctorate to a woman for their field of study.

3. University of Sienna, 1240

There’s nothing like school in a small town where the instructors can give decent one-on-one time. Although, for the European city of Sienna, half the faces you’ll see walking the streets will be familiar faces from the school itself.

The student body of the University of Sienna actually makes up half the town’s population. In 1321, after a large-scale by students at the University of Bologna, Sienna’s student population grew almost exponentially.

4. University of Coimbra, 1290

It may not be the oldest, but it certainly was inspired by it. Just two hundred years after the first one was founded, this university was first established in the Portuguese city of Lisbon. Although it can count that city as its first home, it settled for the final time in Coimbra, Portugal.

The student body is about 24,000 students with a couple of thousand international students hosted every year. An amazing campus and the sheer age of the institution have earned it a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

5. University of Naples Federico II, 1224

Even if it isn’t the oldest university on the list, it certainly has a well-earned reputation. It is reported the third oldest university in Italy, and the seventh oldest in the whole world. According to records, it is the oldest institution in the world to be publicly funded.

It was founded by Holy Roman emperor Frederick II. More surprising than being established by a Roman ruler was the fact that the school had no connection to the Catholic Church at the time.

6. University of Padua, 1222

Some universities come into existence because like-minded individuals feels their knowledge is that great in value. Other times, institutions are created out of what others may feel is necessity.

Both staff and alumni at the University of Bologna felt that it was restrictive to their ideals and intellectual freedom. Two of the most famous astronomers, Copernicus and Galileo, owe their education to the University of Padua.

7. University of Cambridge, 1209

It may not be one of the oldest to exist, but it more well-known that some others. This particular university was established after a group of scholars broke away from the University of Oxford.

Even 800 years later, it still ranks as one of the top places for scholarship and funding in the world. Aside from its well-earned reputation, it has a gorgeous campus. Stephen Hawking also studied at Cambridge for a number of years.

8. University of Al-Karaouine, 859

Also known as Al-Quaraouiyine University, the institution was founded by Fatima al-Fihri in 859 in Morocco, as a combination of a mosque and an attached school. Guinness World Records cites it as the “oldest existing, and continually operating education institution in the world.”

9. University of Salamanca, 1164

Founded before Spain was official a territory, it is located in the Castile and Leon regions. Teaching at the institution is said to have begun around 1094, but was not officially recognized until 1164 by the king of Leon.

One discussion said to have taken place within the walls was how Columbus should have treated the Natives.

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