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The Top 10 Oldest Universities in the World

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Have you ever wondered how the education system in the world evolved? If not, then we are here to take you through the hidden pages of history to learn about some of the oldest universities in the world. Schools and universities have played an important role in improving society by producing some of the finest minds ever. Centuries have passed by, yet some of these universities have tested the times and are still standing tall. Not just this, but some of these oldest universities are fully functioning to date and offering world-class education. These oldest universities in the world have proved their ability and moved forward with their historic legacies. To understand them better, we bring you the list of the top 10 oldest universities in the world. Let’s understand what ancient institutions and educational systems looked like back in the past.

Top 10 Oldest Universities in the World

Over the years, the education system has seen a massive turnaround from the traditional way of teaching to a modern technology-driven process; the learning method has evolved, too. And still, these oldest universities are among the world’s most prestigious and highly esteemed institutions that witness high competition every year. Let’s take a look at the top 10 oldest universities in the world.

1. University of Bologna

Location: Bologna, Italy 
Year of Establishment:
QS World University Rankings: 
Unique Feature: 
Multicampus structure
Top Courses: 
Engineering, Humanities, Law, Medicine
 Silvestro Turtoro, Giulia Bosi, and Federico Dalpozzo

With a history of nine centuries under its feathers, the University of Bologna is the first on our list of the oldest universities in the world. It is the oldest and the 1st university in the world that has made its way through the bustling Middle Ages, passed the diverse Renaissance, and has seen the crash of the Modern Age, successfully arriving in the Contemporary era. Home to more than 85,000 students, the university offers undergraduate, post-graduate, and PhD programs. Not just this, this university also organises summer and winter schools and encourages the admission of international students.

2. The University of Oxford

Location: Oxford, United Kingdom
Year of Establishment:
 1096 – 1167
QS World University Rankings:
Unique Feature:
 Has world’s oldest botanical garden
Top Courses:
 Medicine, Law, Mathematics, Computer Science, Economics, Modern Languages
 Tony Abbott, Sir Andrew Wiles, and Roger Bacon

The University of Oxford has been ranked #1 in the World University Rankings by the Times Higher Education (THE) for 7 years in a row from 2017 to 2023. Not just this, but the alumni list of the university has 28 UK Prime Ministers on it. Yeah, you read it right! There’s a reason why the University of Oxford is amongst the top 10 oldest universities in the world. Along with a high quality of education, it also empowers its students to build a strong and empowering life. The University of Oxford has around £15.7 billion in the UK economy and supports more than 28,000 full-time jobs. Despite being the world’s oldest university, Oxford University is still fully functioning and making education easily available. You can also check out our blog on the oldest universities in the UK. If you’re looking for University of Oxford student accommodation, amber can help you!

3. University of Cambridge

Location: Cambridge, England
Year of Establishment:
QS World University Rankings:
Unique Feature:
 Collegiate system
Top courses:
 Social Sciences, Law, Education, Psychology
Lauren Rea, Edward Harley, and Ursula Hart

The next oldest university in the world on our list is the University of Cambridge. With a student population of around 20,000 from 140 countries, the University of Cambridge is the third on our list of the oldest universities in the world. With a history of more than eight centuries, it is considered one of the top public universities in Cambridge. It has six academic schools under its feather dedicated to different streams and spread across the university’s colleges, such as Art & Humanities, Biological Sciences, and Clinical Medicines. If you plan to move to England to study at the University of Cambridge, amber will help you find your ideal student accommodation.

4. University of Salamanca

Location: Salamanca, Spain
Year of Establishment:
QS World University Rankings:
Unique Feature:
 Plateresque architecture
Top Courses:
 Law, Liberal Arts, Science, Medicine
Jorge Volpi Escalante and Jose Luis Chico

The University of Salamanca is considered one of the oldest universities in the world, which is an institution for Spanish higher education. This public university is widely known for its language studies and actively educating the world about the importance of law and economics. The university claims to have been founded by Alfonso IX of Leone and is considered the most prestigious university in Spain. This internationally recognized Spanish language centre is home to more than 30,000 students from all over the world.

5. University of Padua

Location: Padua, Italy 
Year of Establishment:
QS World University Rankings: 
Unique Feature:
 History of Physics Museum
Top Courses:
 Psychological Science, Medicine & Surgery, Information Engineering, and Animal Care
 Nicolaus Copernicus, William Harvey, and Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia

Next on our list of the oldest universities in the world is the University of Padua, known for managing nine museums, including a History of Physics Museum, located in the beautiful city of Padua. This is one of the oldest European universities, which serves as a hub for research and scholarly training. With a yearly enrolment exceeding 60,000 students and a dedicated faculty of 2,200 educators spinning 32 departments, the university’s legacy and esteemed reputation are unmistakable. Over the years, the university has dedicated itself to advancing knowledge and contributing to the betterment of the world. Students studying at the University of Padua will also find many cosy cafes in and around the university.

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