30 Oldest University in The World 2023

Do you know which are the oldest universities in the world? In this article, we discussed the 30 oldest universities in the world.

Oldest Universities in The World

Do you know which are the oldest universities in the world? If you don't know, then there is no need to worry. Because in this article, we have discussed the 30 oldest universities in the world. There were also many of the oldest universities in the world, but they became isolated at different times. Universities are not only the oldest but also at the top of the merit list.

Education is the backbone of every nation. Education started when people were hunting in the forest. Since then, the quality of education has gradually improved. I am interested and like to know ancient history. I hope you are also interested in this subject. Let's see, what are the oldest universities in the world? 

List of the oldest universities in the World

Here is the list of the 30 oldest universities in the world with the university name, university location, and university starting year.

No University Name Founded Year Location
01 University of Ez-Zitouna 737 Tunis, Tunisia
02 University of al-Qarawiyyin 859 Fez, Morocco
03 Al-Azhar University 970 Islamic Cairo, Egypt
04 Hunan University 976 Changsha, China
05 University of Bologna 1088 Bologna, Italy
06 University of Oxford 1096 Oxford, England
07 University of Cambridge 1209 Cambridge, United Kingdom
08 University of Salamanca 1218 Salamanca, Spain
09 University of Padua 1222 Padua, Italy
10 University of Naples Federico II 1224 Naples, Italy
11 University of Siena 1240 Siena, Italy
12 University of Valladolid 1241 Valladolid, Spain
13 Sorbonne University 1257 Paris, France
14 University of Coimbra 1290 Coimbra, Portugal
15 Sapienza University of Rome 1303 Rome, Italy
16 University of Pisa 1343 Pisa, Italy
17 Charles University 1348 Prague, Czech Republic
18 University of Pavia 1361 Pavia, Lombardy, Italy
19 Jagiellonian University 1364 Krakow, Poland
20 University of Vienna 1365 Vienna, Austria
21 Heidelberg University 1385 Heidelberg, Germany
22 University of Ferrara 1391 Ferrara, Italy
23 Sungkyunkwan University 1398 Seoul, South Korea
24 University of Turin 1404 Turin, Italy
25 Leipzig University 1409 Leipzig, Germany
26 University of St Andrews 1410 Fife, Scotland
27 The University of Rostock 1419 Rostock, Germany
28 University of Catania 1434 Catania, Italy
29 University of Barcelona 1450 Catalonia, Spain
30 University of Glasgow 1451 Glasgow, Scotland

Detailed analysis on the 30 oldest universities in the world is given below.

1. University of Ez-Zitouna - 737

oldest university in the world and Africa

The EZ-Zitouna University is a public university in Tunis, Tunisia. The university was founded in 737 as a madrasa and afterward as a university in 1956. It consists of the Higher Institute of Theology and Higher Institute of Islamic Civilization in Tunis and the Islamic Studies Center in Kairouan, an analysis institute. It is the oldest university in the world and Africa.

The university taught mainly the Qur'an, theology, jurisprudence, history, grammar, science, and medicine. In terms of books and libraries, the Eze-Zituna libraries were among the richest of their North African counterparts. It had a total collection of several thousand books. According to 2022, there are currently studies on about 1200 students.

2. University of al-Qarawiyyin - 859

oldest university in morocco

Al-Qarawiyyin is a public university located in Fez, Morocco. According to UNESCO and Guinness World Records, it is the world's oldest continuous higher education institution. But our research shows it is the 2nd oldest university in the world. Most of al-Qarawiyyin's students are between 13 and 30 years old. Al-Qarawiyyin was founded as a madrasa in 859 by Fatima al-Fihri. 

She is the daughter of a wealthy merchant named Mohammad Al-Fihri. In 1947 Al-Qarawiween was integrated into the state education system. In 1963 the madrasa was finally converted into a university under the supervision of the Ministry of Education. According to 2012, there are currently studies on about 8,120 students. 

3. Al-Azhar University - 970

oldest university in Egypt

Al-Azhar University is a public university founded in 970. It is attached to Al-Azhar Mosque in Islamic Cairo, Egypt. During the Ottoman period, Al-Azhar grew in prestige and influence into the prime institution of Islamic learning in the Sunni Muslim world. In the 12th century, after the overthrow of the Ismaili Fatimid dynasty, Saladin transformed al-Azhar into a center of Shafi'i Sunni learning. 

It is the 3rd oldest university in the world. In 1748, the Ottoman Pasha tried to teach al-Azhar astronomy and mathematics, to little avail. Al-Azhar University was re-established as a university under the Egyptian government in 1961. According to 2019, there are currently studies on about 1,678,755 students.

4. Hunan University - 976

oldest university in Asia

Hunan University is a public research university located in Changsha, Hunan. It is considered one of the engineering research universities in China. It was ranked 29th among the best global universities in engineering in the US News & World Report Best Global University Rankings. It is the oldest university in Asia.

The university traces its history back to the Yuelu Academy, founded in 976 AD during the Song dynasty. According to 2019, there are currently studies on about 36,000 students. In 2020, the Implementation Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities Hunan University ranked 161st globally and 33rd in Asia.

5. University of Bologna - 1088

oldest university in Europe

The University of Bologna is an public research university in Bologna, Italy. It was established in 1088 by an organized guild of students. It is the oldest university in continuous operation in the world. And the first university in the substance of higher learning. Here are currently studies on about 90,291 students. It is the oldest university in Europe.

The University of Bologna is the 1st oldest university in the world as university name tag. The university ranked 1st place in national, European, and international rankings both as a whole and for individual subjects. The university has 33 departments organized by homogeneous analysis domains that combine activities connected to one or more faculty. 

6. University of Oxford - 1096

oldest university in English speaking world

The University of Oxford is a research institute in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it the oldest university in English speaking world. Oxford operates the world's oldest university museum. In the fiscal year ending 31 July 2019, the institute had total revenue of £2.45 billion. 

It is the 6th oldest university in the world. It began to award doctorates for research in the first third of the 20th century. At the beginning of 1914, the university lodged about 3,000 undergraduates and about 100 postgraduate students. Now the total number of students at Oxford University is 24,515.

7. University of Cambridge - 1209

second oldest university in English speaking world

The University of Cambridge is a research institute in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It was launched in 1209 and granted a royal charter by Henry III in 1231. Cambridge is ranked among the most prestigious institutes in the world and currently sits as the world's 2nd best university and second oldest university in English speaking world. 

It has won more Nobel Prizes than any other university, with 121 Nobel laureates. Cambridge University began offering Ph.D. degrees in the 20th century. Cambridge University started to award Ph.D. degrees in the 20th century. According to 2020, there are currently studies on about 24,450 students.

8. University of Salamanca - 1218

oldest university in Spain

The University of Salamanca is a higher education university in Spain. It was founded in 1218 by King Alfonso IX. Salamanca University is the oldest university in the Hispanic world. In 1255 a papal bull of Alexander IV confirmed Alfonso X's royal charter and granted universal recognition to university degrees. 

In the 19th century, the Spanish government dissolved the law and theology faculties of the university. They were later re-established as part of the Pontifical University of Salamanca in the 1940s. Like Oxford and Cambridge, it has several colleges.

9. University of Padua - 1222

second-oldest university in Italy

The University of Padua was founded in 1222 by a group of students and teachers from Bologna. It is an Italian university located in Padua, Italy. Padua is the second-oldest university in Italy and the world's 9th-oldest university. The university's first subjects taught were law and theology. It began teaching medicine around 1250. 

The Botanical Garden of Padova, founded by the university in 1545, is one of the oldest gardens in the world. The Times Higher Education World University Rankings lists this university at 4th place in Italy and in the 201st-250th range worldwide. There are currently 59,316 students.

10. University of Naples Federico II - 1224

third oldest university in Italy

The University of Naples Federico II is a public research university in Naples, Italy. It is the oldest state-supported higher education and research institution in the world. The Federico II University of Naples was established on 5 June 1224 by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II. 

Federico II is the third university in Italy by the number of enrolled students. And it is still one of the best universities in Italy and the world. In 2015 Federico II was ranked among the best 100 universities in the world by citations per paper. According to 2020, there are currently studies on about 93,280 students. 

11. University of Siena - 1240

University of Siena

The University of Siena is a public university located in Siena, Italy. Originally called Studium Senese, the university was composed in 1240. In 2006 it had about 20,000 students, half of Siena's total population of about 54,000. In the 2020–2021 academic year, its total undergraduate enrollment was 3,300. 

The University of Siena is best known for law, medicine, economics, and management. Since 2012, the university has had 15 departments, following the general reform of Italian universities. There is an uneasy balance between the city of Siena and the university because half students live out of the total population of Sienese.

12. University of Valladolid - 1241

University of Valladolid

The University of Valladolid is a Spanish public university founded in 1241 as a spin-off of the University of Palencia. The University of Valladolid is a public university located in Valladolid, Province of Valladolid, Autonomous Region of Castile and León, Spain. There are currently about 31,780 students here. 

It is responsible for teaching higher education on seven campuses distributed in four cities. The first university building notable for its architecture was built in the late 15th century after the institution moved from the Collegiata. The university library has 14 library services and each with a director.  

13. Sorbonne University - 1257

Sorbonne University

Sorbonne University is a public research university located in Paris, France. The institution's legacy dates back to 1257 when Robert de Sorbonne established Sorbonne College as one of the first universities in Europe. As of 2021, its professors have won 33 Nobel Prizes, six Field Medals, and one Turing Award. 

Sorbonne University has a world-class reputation in academia and industry. In 2010, the direct successors of the faculties of the University of Paris created the Sorbonne University Association. It has three faculties: Humanities, Science and Engineering, and Medicine. There are currently about 55,600 students here.

14. University of Coimbra - 1290

oldest university in Portugal

The University of Coimbra is a public research institute in Coimbra, Portugal. First established in Lisbon in 1290, it went through many relocations until it moved permanently to Coimbra in 1537. The contemporary university has eight faculties, offering undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral degrees in almost all major fields.

Enrolling more than 20,000 students, more than 15% of whom are global. In the 18th century, the Marquis of Pombal, minister of state, led radical reforms in the universities, especially in science education, following his Enlightenment and anti-Semitism. In 2022 it's ranked 399 in the world university by News & World Report Best College Ranking.

15. Sapienza University of Rome - 1303

Sapienza University of Rome

The Sapienza University of Rome is a public research university discovered in Rome, Italy. It is one of the largest European universities by enrollment and one of the oldest in history, founded in 1303. The university is the most prestigious Italian university. And it is usually ranked first in national rankings and in Southern Europe. 

In 1650 the university became known as Sapienza. In 1935 the new university campus designed by Marcello Piacentini was completed. Sapienza University has many campuses in Rome, but its main campus is Citta Universitaria. According to 2022, there are currently studies on about 112,564 students. 

 16. University of Pisa - 1343

University of Pisa

The University of Pisa is one of the oldest universities in Italy. The university was founded in 1343 but closed in 1360. It is a public research university located in Pisa, Italy. The University Library System consists of 15 libraries and the General Archive of the University. 

In 2011, the University of Pisa came in 1st place among the Italian universities according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities. The first subjects taught here were theology, clerical discipline, civil law, and medical science. 

17. Charles University - 1348

Oldest University in Czech Republic

Charles University is a public university in Prague, Czech Republic. It is among the top three universities in Central and Eastern Europe. Today, the university consists of 17 faculties in Prague, Hradec Králové, and Plzen. Charles University was established in 1348 by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor. 

Charles University does not have a joint campus. In 1408, the institute had almost 200 doctors and magistrates, 500 bachelors, and 30,000 students. Charles University ranked in the top 1.5 percent of the world's best universities in 2011. According to 2016, there are currently studies on about 51,438 students.

18. University of Pavia - 1361

University of Pavia

The University of Pavia is a public institute located in Pavia, Lombardy, Italy. There is proof of teaching as early as 1361, making it one of the oldest universities in the world. Until the end of the 19th century, it was the only university in Milan and the greater Lombardy region. The university has more than 20,000 students from Italy and around the world. 

The University of Pavia offers more than 80 undergraduate programs. The University of Pavia is a member of the COIMBRA Group and the European University Association. About 1,500 students entering the university each year are international students.

19. Jagiellonian University - 1364

Oldest University in Poland

Jagiellonian University is a public research institute in Krakow, Poland. Founded in 1364 by King Casimir III the Great, it is the 2nd oldest university in Poland. It is considered the most prestigious academic institution in Poland. In addition to the three faculties that compose the Collegium Medicum. It has thirteen prime faculties. 

It employs about 4,000 academics and provides education to more than 35,000 students. The new seat of the University Hospital was recently opened in Prokosim in 2019, as a result of an investment project of more than 1.2 million. The university's main Library Is one of the largest in Poland.

20. University of Vienna - 1365

oldest university in Austria

The University of Vienna is a public research institute in Austria. It was established in 1365 by Duke Rudolf IV. Students at the university can choose from 181-degree programs like 55 bachelor's programs, 110 master's programs, three diploma programs, and 13 doctoral programs. 

 It is associated with 21 Nobel Prize winners and has been the academic home of many historical scholars. The University of Vienna, like all universities and academies in Austria, once had a system of democratic representation. According to 2016, there are currently studies on about 91,715 students. 

21. Heidelberg University - 1385

Heidelberg University

The University of Heidelberg is a public research university residing in Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Heidelberg University was the third university established in the Holy Roman Empire. The language of instruction here is usually German, but several undergraduate degrees are to learn in English and French. 

In 2019, QS World University Rankings ranked Heidelberg University 3rd in Germany. The university has two semesters per year. The winter semester runs from 1 October to 31 March and the summer semester runs from 1 April to 30 September. There are currently about 28,653 students.

22. University of Ferrara - 1391

University of Ferrara

The University of Ferrara is the prime university in the city of Ferrara in northern Italy. In the years before World War I, the University of Ferrara, with over 500 students, was the best of the free universities in Italy. The University of Ferrara was established in 1391 by Marquis Alberto V D'Este. 

After World War II, it began to be state-supported, and this allowed the opening of many faculties and research departments. Since 2000, the University of Ferrara has collaborated across the Faculties of Economics, Architecture, Medicine, and Law. According to 2017, there are currently studies on about 18,465 students.

23. Sungkyunkwan University - 1398

Oldest University in South Korea

Sungkyunkwan University is a private research institute in South Korea. The university spends heavily on research and outcomes sponsored by Samsung, Hyundai, and government agencies. The university traces its origins to the historic Sungkyunkwan, founded in 1398 and located in central Seoul. 

The university's Humanities and Social Sciences Campus, also housing the Arts Department, is located in central Seoul on the same hill as Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung. The 101-hectare campus, 45 kilometers south of Seoul, was established in 1978. Now, it has more than 25000 students.

24. University of Turin - 1404

University of Turin

The University of Turin is a public research university in the city of Turin, in the Piedmont region of Italy. Turin university was founded as a stadium in 1404, under the initiative of Prince Ludovico di Savoia. It closed in 1536 and reopened thirty years later. The University of Turin has 13 faculties and 55 departments.

 It is one of the oldest universities in Europe and continues to play a significant role in research and training. In 2017, the University of Turin was ranked among the top 500 universities in the world by Times Higher Education. As of 2022, there are 78,900 undergraduate, 1,200 postgraduate and 1,100 doctoral students.

25. Leipzig University - 1409

Leipzig University

The University of Leipzig is one of the oldest universities in Germany. The University of Leipzig was founded on 2 December 1409 by Frederick I, Elector of Saxony, and his brother William II, Margrave of Meissen. The University of Leipzig is the second oldest university in Germany. Nine Nobel Prize winners are associated with the university. 

Since its start, the university has been engaged in teaching and research for over 600 years without obstacles. The university was reopened on 5 February 1946 after the war. In 2009, Leipzig University celebrated its 600th anniversary with over 300 scientific and cultural lectures and exhibitions. There are currently about 29,459 students here. 

26. University of St Andrews - 1410

old universities in scotland

The University of St Andrews is a public university in Fife, Scotland. It is the oldest of the four ancient universities in Scotland. And it is the third-oldest university in the English-speaking world. King of Scotland James I confirmed the university certificate in 1432. Here are 18 academic schools organized in four faculties. 

The academic year of this university has two semesters. The philosophy department is ranked sixth worldwide and 3rd in Europe in the 2020 QS World University Rankings. In 2021, the University of St Andrews had the highest entry standards for undergraduate admission in the UK. There are currently about 10,535 students here.

27. The University of Rostock - 1419

The University of Rostock

The University of Rostock is located in Rostock, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany. It is a well-known public university. It is the third-oldest university in Germany. The University of Rostock is the oldest in continental northern Europe and the Baltic Sea area. Do you know it was the 5th university established in the Holy Roman Empire? 

The university language is usually German and English for some postgraduate studies. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the University of Rostock had about 400 to 500 students every year. Presently, international students from 99 different countries are studying at this university. There are currently about 13,766 students here.

28. University of Catania - 1434

University of Catania

The University of Catania is a public university located in Catania, Italy. It is the oldest university in Sicily and the 13th oldest in Italy. The University of Catania has 17 departments. The university was founded on 19 October 1434 by King Alfonso I of Sicily. The 1st degree was given to Antonio Mantello, from Syracuse, in 1449. 

The University of Catania's first four faculties were Medicine, Philosophy, Canon and Civil Law, and Theology. During the 16th century, this university awarded 20/25 degrees per year. The university has 1,623 administrative staff. There are currently about 66,235 students here.

29. University of Barcelona - 1450

University of Barcelona

The University of Barcelona is a public institute in Catalonia, Spain. It is one of the oldest universities in Catalonia and Spain. The university was founded on 3 November 1450 under a royal charter granted by King Alfonso V of Aragon in Naples. It is considered the best university in Spain. 

It is ranked 1st in Spain in most of the 2021-2022 rankings. It has more than 5,000 full-time technicians, researchers, and research assistants. As of 2013, the University of Barcelona has 18 faculties and 100 departments. Now, it has more than 63,000 students.

30. University of Glasgow - 1451

second oldest university in Scotland

The University of Glasgow is a public research institution located in Glasgow, Scotland. Glasgow is the fourth oldest university in English speaking world. It is the second-oldest university in Scotland after the University of St Andrews. The University of Glasgow was established in 1451 by a charter or papal bull from Pope Nicholas V. 

The university currently has several campuses. The main one is the Gilmour Hill campus in Halehead. In 1973, Delphine Parrott became the first female professor as the Gardiner Professor of Immunology. It has four main faculties: Arts, Divinity, Law, and Medicine. Now, it has more than 32,500 students.

Conclusion

Here is the list of the oldest universities in the world. From this article, we can see that most of the oldest universities are in Italy. Do you know of any oldest university in the world that we did not mention? Please comment because your comments are valuable to us. 


Question & Answers:

Who is the oldest university in the world?

The University of Ez-Zitouna was founded in 737 by Obeid Allah Ibn Al-Habhab as a madrasa.

Where was the world's first university?

Tunis, Tunisia.

What is the second oldest university in Asia?

Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea was established in 1398 by the Joseon dynasty.

Where is the oldest university in Asia?

Hunan University in China was established in 976 by Yuelu Academy.

Which is the first University in Europe?

The University of Bologna in Italy was established in 1088 by an organized guild of students.

What is the oldest English speaking university in the world?

The first English-speaking university is Oxford University.

Which was the first university in Africa?

The University of Ez-Zitouna was founded in 737 by Obeid Allah Ibn Al-Habhab as a madrasa.

Source : Wikipedia

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