A 1911 map of medieval universities in Europe
A 1911 map of medieval universities in Europe
The University of Bologna in Bologna, Italy, is the world's oldest university in continuous operation.[1]
The University of Bologna in Bologna, Italy, is the world's oldest university in continuous operation.[1]
A dining hall at the University of Oxford in Oxford, England, the world's second-oldest university and oldest in the English-speaking world
A dining hall at the University of Oxford in Oxford, England, the world's second-oldest university and oldest in the English-speaking world
Partial view of the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England, the world's third-oldest university
Partial view of the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England, the world's third-oldest university

This is a list of the oldest existing universities in continuous operation in the world.

Inclusion in this list is determined by the date at which the educational institute first met the traditional definition of a university used by academic historians[Note 1][specify] although it may have existed as a different kind of institution before that time.[2] This definition limits the term "university" to institutions with distinctive structural and legal features that developed in Europe, and which make the university form different from other institutions of higher learning in the pre-modern world, even though these may sometimes now be referred to popularly as universities. To be included in the list below, the university must have been founded before 1500 in Europe or be the oldest university derived from the medieval European model in a country or region. It must also be still in operation, with institutional continuity retained throughout its history. So some early universities, including the University of Paris, founded around the beginning of the 13th century[3] but abolished by the French Revolution in 1793,[4] are excluded. Some institutions reemerge, but with new foundations, such as the modern University of Paris, which came into existence in 1896 after the Louis Liard law disbanded Napoleon's University of France system.

The word university is derived from the Latin: universitas magistrorum et scholarium, which approximately means "community of teachers and scholars". The University of Bologna in Bologna, Italy, where teaching began around 1088 and which was organised into a university in the late twelfth century, is the world's oldest university in continuous operation,[5] and the first university in the sense of a higher-learning and degree-awarding institute.[6][7][1] The origin of many medieval universities can be traced back to the Catholic cathedral schools or monastic schools, which appeared as early as the 6th century and were run for hundreds of years as such before their formal establishment as universities in the high medieval period.[8]

Ancient higher-learning institutions, such as those of ancient Greece, ancient Persia, ancient Rome, Byzantium, ancient China, ancient India and the Islamic world, are not included in this list owing to their cultural, historical, structural and legal differences from the medieval European university from which the modern university evolved.[Note 2][Note 3][11]

Medieval origins

Main article: Medieval university

The university as an institution was historically rooted in medieval society, which it in turn influenced and shaped. Academic historian Walter Rüegg asserts that:[11]

The university is a European institution; indeed, it is the European institution par excellence. There are various reasons for this assertion. As a community of teachers and taught, accorded certain rights, such as administrative autonomy and the determination and realisation of curricula (courses of study) and of the objectives of research as well as the award of publicly recognised degrees, it is a creation of medieval Europe, which was the Europe of papal Christianity [...].

Modern spread

From the early modern period onwards, the university spread from the medieval Latin West across the globe, eventually replacing all other higher-learning institutions and becoming the preeminent institution for higher education everywhere. The process occurred in the following chronological order:[12]

Founded as universities before 1500

Main article: List of medieval universities

This list includes medieval universities that were founded before 1500 and which have retained institutional continuity since then (excluding not only those that ceased to exist, but also those that merged into or split away to an institution which is regarded as newly established). Several of these have been closed for brief periods: for example the University of Siena was closed 1805–1815 during the Napoleonic wars, and universities in the Czech Republic and Poland were closed during Nazi occupation, 1938–1945.

Universities are dated from when, according to scholars, they first met the definition of a university. In cases such as the universities of Bologna and Oxford which trace their history back to teaching in individual schools prior to their formation into a university, or which existed in another form prior to being a university, the date in the list below is thus later than the date given by the institutions for their foundation.

Year University Location Notes
Original Current
(teaching from c. 1088)
University of Bologna
Corona ferrea monza (heraldry).svg
Kingdom of Italy,
 Holy Roman Empire
Italy Bologna, Italy Law schools existed in Bologna from the second half of the 12th century, with 1088 often considered to be the date on which teaching outside of ecclesiastical schools began.[14] In 1158, petitions by Bolognese doctors of law led to Emperor Barbarossa granting the "Authentic Habita", which granted various rights to students and masters but did not name Bologna or any other particular place of study.[15] However, it is unlikely that the university had become organised by the 1150s, and this may have been as late as the 1180s.[16] The law schools appear to have remained independent, private entities until around 1180, but became organised over the following decade. In 1189 the masters made an agreement with the commune not to transfer the studium to another town, while the Lombard students were organised into a 'nation' by 1191.[14][17]
(teaching from c. 1096)
University of Oxford  Kingdom of England United Kingdom Oxford, United Kingdom Teaching existed in Oxford from the late 11th century,[19] with the university giving the date of 1096 for the earliest classes.[20] However, it was not until the early 13th century that the schools in Oxford took on an organised character. In 1201 a papal letter described John Grimm as magister scolarum Oxonie.[21] In 1209 the masters suspended their teaching in Oxford and moved to other towns (including Cambridge, leading to the foundation of the university there),[22] returning after a bull issued on 20 June 1214 by the papal legate, Niccolò de Romanis, that granted a number of rights to the university and established the office of chancellor.[23] Both Oxford and Cambridge were granted rights of discipline over students and of fixing rents in letters issued by King Henry III in 1231.[24] A royal charter, sometimes referred to as the Magna Carta of the university, was granted in 1244, awarding further rights to the university.[25] The university received a papal bull Querentes in agro in 1254, with a first version issued on 27 September and a second version on 6 October. The first version followed the common form of privileges granted to monastic houses, confirming the liberties and immunities granted to the university and placing the members of the university under papal protection, but the second version (which was the version recorded in the papal register) explicitly recognised and approved the existence of the university as a scholarly community and confirmed its "liberties, ancient customs and approved statutes".[26]
1209–1225[3] University of Cambridge  Kingdom of England United Kingdom Cambridge, United Kingdom Founded by scholars leaving Oxford after a dispute caused by the execution of three scholars in 1209.[22] The university was organised under a chancellor by 1225.[27] The university takes 1209 as its official anniversary.[28] Along with Oxford, Cambridge was granted rights of discipline over its students and of fixing rents in letters issued by King Henry III in 1231.[24] It received papal recognition as an academic corporation via an indult granted by Pope Gregory IX in 1233 and was named as a studium generale in the papal bull Inter singula in 1318. The traditional view was that this raised it to a studium generale but more recent scholarship (which is now generally, although not universally, accepted) sees the bull as confirming, rather than conferring, this status.[29][30]
1218–1219[3] University of Salamanca
Pennant of the Kingdom of León
Kingdom of León
Spain Salamanca, Spain The oldest university in the Hispanic world. The university was founded by Alfonso IX of León in 1218 and recognised by a papal bull from Pope Alexander IV in 1255.[31]
1222[3] University of Padua
Flag of Bologna.svg
Medieval commune of Padua
Italy Padua, Italy Founded by scholars and professors after leaving Bologna. Awarded the first degree in the world to be conferred on a woman, Elena Cornaro Piscopia, in 1678.[32][33]
1224[3] University of Naples Federico II
King Manfred of Sicily Arms.svg
Kingdom of Sicily
Italy Naples, Italy Claims to be the oldest public university in the world,[34] as one of the first to be founded by a head of state, Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor and king of Sicily. Refounded in 1234, 1239 and 1465, and closed 1490–1507.[35]
1290[3] University of Coimbra
Flag of Portugal (1248–1385
Kingdom of Portugal
Portugal Coimbra, Portugal Originally established in Lisbon but relocated to Coimbra from 1308 to 1338 and again from 1354 to 1377,[3] before finally moving permanently to Coimbra in 1537.[36]
(Papal recognition 1346)[3]
University of Valladolid
Pennant of the Crown of Castile
Crown of Castile
Spain Valladolid, Spain Founded in the late 13th century,[3] probably by the city,[37] with the first documented reference dating from 1293.[38]
1308[3] University of Perugia
Coat of arms of the Papal States
Papal States
Italy Perugia, Italy The university traces its history back to 1276 and statutes were granted in 1306 prior to the bull of Pope Clement V of 8 September 1308.[39]
1347[3] Charles University
Coat of arms of the Kingdom of Bohemia
Kingdom of Bohemia,
 Holy Roman Empire
Czech Republic Prague, Czech Republic Faculties of theology, law and medicine closed during the Bohemian Reformation, leaving only the faculty of liberal arts. Became Charles-Ferdinand University after the Thirty Years' War, with all four faculties restored. Split into German and Czech parts in 1882; the Czech branch restored the name Charles University after independence in 1918 and closed briefly during Nazi occupation (1939–1945) while the German branch closed permanently in 1945.[40]
(originally 1246–1252)[3]
University of Siena
Coat of arms of Siena
Republic of Siena
Italy Siena, Italy Claims to have been founded in 1240 by the Commune of Siena,[41] although Rashdall dates the proclamation of the Studium to 1246, when Frederick II tried to place a ban on scholars travelling to Bologna, the date also given by Verger.[3] Was granted some exemptions from taxes by Pope Innocent II in 1252, but closed shortly after when the scholars returned to Bologna. Attempted revivals in 1275 and (fed by further short-lived migrations of scholars from Bologna) in 1321 and 1338 were unsuccessful. Gained an Imperial Bull in 1357 "granting it de novo the 'privileges of a Studium Generale.'", but was not firmly established until "[i]n 1408 a fresh grant of privileges was obtained from Pope Gregory XII".[42] Closed temporarily in 1808–1815 when Napoleonic forces occupied Tuscany.[41]
1361[3] University of Pavia
House of Visconti
Domain of the House of Visconti
Italy Pavia, Italy Transferred to Piacenza 1398–1412.[3] Closed for short periods during the Italian Wars, Napoleonic wars, and Revolutions of 1848.
1364[3] (re-established in 1400)[3] Jagiellonian University
Alex K Kingdom of Poland3.svg
Kingdom of Poland
Poland Kraków, Poland Founded by King Casimir the Great as a studium generale in 1364. After the death of Casimir the Great in 1370, the development of the university stalled, with lectures being held in various places across the city, including in professors' houses, churches and in the Wawel cathedral school. The faculty of theology was re-opened in 1397 by Queen Jadwiga who left a large endowment to the university upon her death in 1399. The university was formally re-established on 26 July 1400 by King Władysław Jagiełło. After Kraków was incorporated into the Austrian Empire, the university was merged with Lwów University from 1805 to 1809. The university was forcibly shut down during the German Occupation of Poland (1939–1945). The staff was deported to Nazi concentration camps, and many of its collections were deliberately destroyed by the occupying German authorities. Underground lectures continued for around 800 students during this period and the university formally reopened in 1945.[43]
1365[3] University of Vienna  Holy Roman Empire Austria Vienna, Austria Founded by Rudolf IV, Duke of Austria, granted papal assent in 1384 by Pope Urban VI. The oldest university in the contemporary German-speaking world; it remains a question of definition whether Charles University in Prague was also German-speaking when founded. Due to its strong association with the Catholic Church, the university suffered setbacks during the Reformation, but never ceased operation.
1385[3] Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg Germany Heidelberg, Germany Oldest university in Germany. Pope Urban VI granted permission for the founding of a university in October 1385 to Rupert I, Elector Palatine; teaching began in June 1386. Gradually declined during the 17th and 18th centuries until re-established as a state-owned institution by Karl Friedrich, Grand Duke of Baden in 1803.
c. 1400[3]
(originally 1343 to c. 1360)[3]
University of Pisa
Coat of arms of the Republic of Pisa
Republic of Pisa
Italy Pisa, Italy Established 1343 but closed around 1360; refounded at the start of the 15th century.[3] Formally founded on 3 September 1343 by a bull of Pope Clement VI, although according to the university "a number of scholars claim its origin dates back to the 11th century". Transferred to Pistoia, Prato and Florence between 1494 and 1543.[44]
1404[3] University of Turin  Duchy of Savoy Italy Turin, Italy
1409[3] University of Leipzig  Holy Roman Empire Germany Leipzig, Germany
1410[3]–1413[45] University of St. Andrews  Kingdom of Scotland United Kingdom St. Andrews, United Kingdom A school of higher studies was founded in 1410 and was chartered by Bishop Henry Wardlaw in 1411. Full university status conferred by a papal bull of Antipope Benedict XIII on 28 August 1413.[45]

The university was founded in 1410 when a group of Augustinian clergy, driven from the University of Paris by the Avignon schism and from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge by the Anglo-Scottish Wars, formed a society of higher learning in St Andrews, which offered courses of lectures in divinity, logic, philosophy, and law. St Andrews was the obvious choice — "for centuries, it was the heart of the Scottish church and political activities"[46] and "the seat of the greatest bishopric in Scotland and location of a monastery noted as a centre for learning".[47] A charter of privilege was bestowed upon the society of masters and scholars by the Bishop of St Andrews, Henry Wardlaw,[48] on 28 February 1411.[49] Wardlaw then successfully petitioned the Avignon Pope Benedict XIII to grant the school university status by issuing a series of papal bulls, which followed on 28 August 1413.[50] King James I of Scotland confirmed the charter of the university in 1432. Subsequent kings supported the university, with King James V of Scotland "confirming privileges of the university" in 1532.[51][52]

1419[3] University of Rostock  Holy Roman Empire Germany Rostock, Germany Continuous operation during the Reformation is disputed. Some sources state that "the Catholic university of Rostock closed altogether and the closure was long enough to make the refounded body feel a new institution".[53] and that "[the university] fell into complete decay after the beginning of the Reformation in (1523) when the university revenues were lost and matriculations ceased".[54] However, Johann Oldendorp is reported by several sources as having held a professorship at the university from 1526 to 1534, although this is not proven beyond doubt,[55] and other historians refer to "the remaining university lecturers" as supporting plans to restore the university revenues in 1532 (which was eventually accomplished via the Rostock Formula concordiae in 1563).[56] There are records of a number of professors being appointed in 1551, including Johannes Aurifaber, David Chytraeus, and Johann Draconites [de].[57][58]
(originally 1391–1394)[3]
University of Ferrara
House of Este
House of Este
Italy Ferrara, Italy
(originally 1303 to c. 1400)[3]
Sapienza University of Rome
Coat of arms of the Papal States
Papal States
Italy Rome, Italy Founded in 1303 but closed at the end of the 14th century; refounded 1431.[3]
1444[3] University of Catania Kingdom of the Two Sicilies Kingdom of Sicily Italy Catania, Italy
1450[3] University of Barcelona
Standard of the Crown of Aragon
Crown of Aragon
Spain Barcelona, Spain Founded by Alfonso V of Aragon on 3 September 1450 as the Estudi General de Barcelona. From 1401 the city had a medical school founded by King Martin of Aragon (the Estudi General de Medecina de Barcelona), to which a faculty of arts was added in 1402. Before this, there were chairs of higher education (associated with the cathedral, the Dominican Convent of Santa Carolina, and the escoles majors supported by the city's governing council) from the 13th century.[59]
1451[3] University of Glasgow  Kingdom of Scotland United Kingdom Glasgow, United Kingdom Founded by papal bull in 1451, it is the fourth-oldest university in the English-speaking world and one of Scotland's four ancient universities. Along with the universities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and St Andrews, the university was part of the Scottish Enlightenment during the 18th century.
1456[3] University of Greifswald  Holy Roman Empire Germany Greifswald, Germany Some professors from Rostock taught temporarily in Greifswald between 1437 and 1443 due to unrest in Rostock. The university was founded in 1456 by Duke Wartislaw IX with the approval of Pope Callixtus III on the initiative of Heinrich Rubenow, Lord Mayor of Greifswald (and first rector). Teaching paused temporarily during the Protestant Reformation (1527–39).[60]
1457[3] Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg Germany Freiburg, Germany A papal bull of 1455 authorised the Bishop of Constance to establish a university, and in 1457 a ducal charter from Albert VI, Archduke of Austria founded the university.[61]
1459[3] University of Basel Switzerland Basel, Switzerland
1459[3]–1472[62] Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich Germany Munich, Germany Founded in Ingolstadt in 1472; with a papal bull obtained in 1459 from Pope Pius II by Louis the Rich, transferred to Landshut in 1800 and then to Munich in 1826.[62]
1475[3] University of Copenhagen  Kingdom of Denmark within the
 Kalmar Union
Denmark Copenhagen, Denmark
1476[3] Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen  Holy Roman Empire Germany Tübingen, Germany
1477[3] Uppsala University Svensk flagg 1815.svg Kingdom of Sweden within the
 Kalmar Union
Sweden Uppsala, Sweden Established in 1477 by the Catholic Archbishop Jakob Ulvsson. Decayed due to political unrest in the first decade of the 16th century and then the Reformation in the 1520s and 30s, remaining "only an idea without real content" until re-chartered in 1595.[63]
1495[3] University of Aberdeen  Kingdom of Scotland United Kingdom Aberdeen, United Kingdom King's College was founded by a papal bull in 1495 and then Marischal College in 1593; they merged in 1860.[64]
1499[3] Complutense University of Madrid
Pennant of the Crown of Castile
Crown of Castile
Spain Madrid, Spain A studium generale was founded by Sancho IV of Castile in 1293 in Alcalá de Henares. Very little is known of this institution over the next two centuries.[65] In 1499 a papal bull was granted by Pope Alexander VI authorising Archbishop Cisneros to establish a Colegio Mayor in Alcalá with the same powers as the universities of Salamanca and Vallodolid, from which date Verger considers it a university.[3] The new university opened in 1509.[66] The university was moved to Madrid in 1836 by royal decree.[67]
1500[3] University of Valencia
Standard of the Crown of Aragon
Crown of Aragon
Spain Valencia, Spain

Oldest universities by country or region after 1500 still in operation

The majority of European countries had universities by 1500. Many universities were established at institutes of learning such as schools and colleges that may have been founded significantly earlier but were not classed as universities upon their foundation; this is normally described in the notes for that institution. In some countries (particularly the US and those influenced by its culture), degree-granting higher education institutions that would normally be called universities are instead called colleges, in this case both the oldest institution that would normally be regarded as a university and the oldest institution (if different) to actually be called a university are given. In many parts of the world the first university to have a presence was an institution based elsewhere (often the University of London via the affiliation of a local college); where this is different from the first locally established university both are given.


Location Current name Year Notes
Current Original
France French Algeria
University of Algiers 1909
Portugal Portuguese Angola
Agostinho Neto University 1962 Founded as Estudos Gerais Universitários de Angola. Was renamed Universidade de Luanda (University of Luanda) in 1968. After Angolan independence from Portugal in 1975, the institution was renamed the University of Angola (Universidade de Angola). In 1985 it was renamed Agostinho Neto University, in honour of Agostinho Neto, the first President of Angola.
Benin Republic of Dahomey
University of Abomey-Calavi 1970 Originally the University of Dahomey. Renamed the National University of Benin in 1975 and took its current name in 2001.
(Gaborone, Francistown, Maun)
University of Botswana 1964 (as part of the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland; university 1982)
 Burkina Faso
Flag of Upper Volta.svg
Republic of Upper Volta
University of Ouagadougou 1974
Flag of Burundi (1962–1966).svg
Kingdom of Burundi
University of Burundi 1964
Flag of Cameroon (1961-1975).svg
Federal Republic of Cameroon
University of Yaoundé 1962 In 1993 following a university reform the University of Yaounde was split into two (University of Yaoundé I and University of Yaoundé II) following the university branch-model pioneered by the University of Paris.
 Cape Verde
Jean Piaget University of Cape Verde 2001 As a result of the merger of the two previously existing higher education establishments (ISE and ISECMAR)
 Central African Republic
University of Bangui 1969
University of N'Djamena 1971 Originally the University of Chad, renamed the University of N'Djamena 1994.
University of the Comoros 2003[68]
 DR Congo
Flag of Congo Free State.svg
Belgian Congo
University of Kinshasa 1954 Originator established as the Lovanium University, affiliated to the Catholic University of Leuven. Merged into the National University of Zaire in 1971 then demerged under its current name in 1981.
Flag of the People
People's Republic of the Congo
Marien Ngouabi University 1971 Founded as the University of Brazzaville in 1971, changed to current name in 1977.
(Djibouti City)
University of Djibouti 2006
Egypt Khedivate of Egypt
Cairo University 1908 The oldest university in Egypt and second oldest higher education institution (after Al-Azhar University, which was founded as a madrasa c. 970 and became a university in 1962)
 Equatorial Guinea
National University of Equatorial Guinea 1995
(Mai Nefhi)
Eritrea Institute of Technology 2003 Founded following the closure of the University of Asmara, which had been established as a college in 1958
University of Eswatini 1964 (as part of the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland; university 1982) Originally established as the University of Swaziland, changed to current name in 2018
(Addis Ababa)
Ethiopia Ethiopian Empire
(Addis Ababa)
University of Addis Ababa 1950 (as college offering degree courses; university 1962) The university was originally called the University College of Addis Ababa in 1950, offering courses leading to degrees of the University of London. It became Haile Selassie I University in 1962, named after the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I. The institution received its current name in 1975.
Omar Bongo University 1970 Founded as the National University of Gabon and took current name in 1978
University of the Gambia 1999
 Gold Coast
University of Ghana 1948 (as affiliate college of the University of London; university 1961)[69] Founded as the University College of the Gold Coast, an affiliate college of the University of London which supervised its academic programmes and awarded the degrees. It gained full university status in 1961.
Gamal Abdel Nasser University of Conakry 1962
Universidade Colinas de Boé 2003
Universidade Amílcar Cabral 2003
 Ivory Coast
Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny 1964 (as main campus of the University of Abidjan; university 1996)
Flag of Kenya (1921–1963).svg Colony and Protectorate of Kenya


University of Nairobi 1961 (as affiliate college of the University of London; college 1956; university 1970) Oldest in Kenya. Established 1956 as the Royal Technical College. Renamed the Royal College of Nairobi when it became affiliated to the University of London in 1961. On 20 May 1964, was renamed University College Nairobi when it was admitted as a constituent college of inter-territorial University of East Africa. In 1970, it transformed into the first national university in Kenya and was renamed the University of Nairobi.[70]
Flag of Kenya (1921–1963).svg Colony and Protectorate of Kenya


Egerton University 1939 as a farm school; 1987 as university Founded in 1939, and was originally named Egerton Farm School. It was established by a land grant of 740 acres (3 km2) by Maurice Egerton, 4th Baron Egerton. The school's original purpose was to prepare white European youth for careers in agriculture. By 1955, the name had changed to Egerton Agricultural College. A one-year certificate course and a two-year diploma course in agriculture were offered. In 1958, Lord Egerton donated another 1,100 acres (4.5 km2) of land. Soon afterward, the college opened its doors to people of all races from Kenya and other African countries in 1956. In 1979, with support from the Government of Kenya and USAID, the college expanded yet again, becoming part of the University of Nairobi system. In 1987, the college was recognized as a chartered public university.[71]
National University of Lesotho 1964 (as part of the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland; college 1945; university 1975
University of Liberia 1951 (college 1863) Building on Liberia College founded in 1863
(Benghazi & Tripoli)
Libya Kingdom of Libya
University of Libya 1956 A royal decree was issued on 15 December 1955 for the founding of the university. The first faculty to be formed was the Faculty of Literature in Benghazi, and the royal palace "Al Manar", from which King Idris I of Libya declared its independence on 24 December 1951, was assigned to be the campus. Later divided to University of Benghazi and University of Tripoli, the names were changed again during Gaddafi's era, but now they have reinstated their original names.
France Colony of Madagascar and Dependencies
University of Antananarivo 1961 (as university; institute for advanced studies 1955) Founded December 1955 as the Institute for Advanced Studies in Antananarivo. Renamed the University of Madagascar in 1961.
(Zomba, Blantyre & Lilongwe)
University of Malawi 1965
University of Bamako 1996
University of Nouakchott Al Aasriya 1981
Mauritius British Mauritius
University of Mauritius 1965 The Faculty of Agriculture is the oldest faculty of the university. It was founded in 1914 as the School of Agriculture in 1914, and in 1966 it was incorporated into the newly established University of Mauritius.
Flag of Morocco (780 1070) (1258 1659).svg
Idrisid Kingdom of Morocco
University of Al Quaraouiyine 1965 (as university; madrasa 859) Traces its origins back to the al-Qarawiyyin mosque and associated madrasa founded by Fatima al-Fihri in 859, and was named a university in 1965. It is the oldest continuously operating institution of higher learning in the world,[72][73] though only became an official university in 1965.
Mohammed V University 1957 Founded as University of Rabat
Portugal Portuguese Mozambique
(Lourenço Marques)
Eduardo Mondlane University 1962
University of Namibia 1992
Abdou Moumouni University 1974 Originally the University of Niamey
Flag of Nigeria (1914–1952).svg
Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria
(Yaba, Lagos)
University of Ibadan 1949 (as affiliated college of the University of London; college 1932; university 1962) Founded as Yaba College in 1932 in Yaba, Lagos, as the first tertiary educational institute in Nigeria. Yaba College was transferred to Ibadan, becoming the University College of Ibadan, in 1948[74] and was a university college associated with the University of London. Independent university since 1962.[75]
Nigeria Federation of Nigeria
University of Nigeria, Nsukka 1960[76] First university in Nigeria.
University of Rwanda 1963 Founded as the National University of Rwanda in 1963; incorporated into the University of Rwanda 2013
 São Tomé and Príncipe
(São Tomé)
University of São Tomé and Príncipe 2014 (as university; polytechnic school 1996)
 Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
University of Tifariti 2013
FranceFrench Senegal
Cheikh Anta Diop University 1957
(Anse Royale)
University of Seychelles 2009
 Sierra Leone
Flag of Sierra Leone (1916–1961).svg
Sierra Leone Colony and Protectorate
Fourah Bay College 1876 (as affiliated college of Durham University; college 1827; part of University of Sierra Leone 1967) Oldest university-level institution in Africa. Founded as a missionary school to train teachers in 1827. Became an affiliated college of Durham University in 1876 and awarded first degrees in West Africa in 1878. Became part of the federal University of Sierra Leone in 1967.[77][78]
Trust Territory of Somaliland
Somali National University 1954
 South Africa
Cape Colony Cape Colony
(Cape Town)
University of South Africa 1873 Originally founded as the University of the Cape of Good Hope in 1916 it was transformed into the federal University of South Africa (Unisa) and relocated to Pretoria.
 South Sudan
Sudan Democratic Republic of the Sudan
University of Juba 1975
Flag of Sudan (1956–1970).svg
Republic of the Sudan
University of Khartoum 1956 (as university; college 1902)[79] Renamed from Gordon Memorial College, founded 1902, when it gained full university status in 1956
(Dar es Salaam)
Flag of Tanganyika (1923–1961).svg
Tanganyika Territory
(Dar es Salaam)
University of Dar es Salaam 1961 (as affiliated college of the University of London; part of the University of East Africa 1963; university 1970)
University of Lomé 1970 Originally the University of Benin, changed to current name in 2001
Umayyad Flag.svg
Umayyad Caliphate
University of Ez-Zitouna 1961 (as university; madrasa c. 737) Traces its origins back to the Al-Zaytuna madrasa founded around 737, it gained university status in 1961
Flag of the Uganda Protectorate.svg
British Protectorate of Uganda
Makerere University 1922 Started as a technical college in 1922. Then became an affiliate college of the University of London; part of the University of East Africa 1963. It would become an independent University[80] 1970.
University of Zambia 1966
 Southern Rhodesia
University of Zimbabwe 1952 (as affiliated college of the University of London; university 1970) Founded in 1952 as University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. University of Rhodesia from 1970 and University of Zimbabwe from 1980


Location Current name Year Notes
Current Original
Kingdom of Afghanistan Kingdom of Afghanistan
Kabul University 1931 Founded in 1931, formally opened 1932.
(Sakhir, Isa Town)
University of Bahrain 1986
 British Raj
(Dacca, Bengal Presidency)
University of Dhaka 1921 First university in Bangladesh, opened 1 July 1921.[81]
Royal University of Bhutan 2003
(Bandar Seri Begawan)
University of Brunei Darussalam 1985
(Phnom Penh)
Cambodia French Protectorate of Cambodia
(Phnom Penh)
Royal University of Fine Arts 1918
 China Song Empire
(Yuelu Mountain, Changsha, Hunan)
Hunan University 1903 (as university; academy 976) Known in Chinese as 湖南大学. The university was originally called the Yuelu Academy in 976 and was converted into Hunan Institute of Higher Learning (with university status) in 1903. It was later renamed Hunan Normal College, Hunan Public Polytechnic School, and finally Hunan University in 1926.[82]
Qing dynasty Qing Empire
Peking University 1898 First modern national university in China, whose original name was Imperial University of Peking (京师大学堂). It is the successor of Guozijian, or Imperial College, which was founded in 1306.
Tianjin University 1895 The first higher education institution in China. It was established in 1895 as Imperial Tientsin University (天津北洋西學學堂) and later Peiyang University (北洋大學). In 1951, after restructuring, it was renamed Tianjin University, and became one of the largest multidisciplinary engineering universities in China.
Nanjing University 1902 Traces its origins to a Confucian institution Taihsueh (太學), which was founded in 258. Known in Chinese as Jinling University (金陵大学). Was a private university later merged with the public University of Nanjing (南京大学). First institution in China to use the English term "university". Educational institutions were closed in China on 13 June 1966 due to the Cultural Revolution, reopening in July 1967.[83]
 East Timor National University of East Timor 2000
 Hong Kong  Hong Kong The University of Hong Kong 1911 (as university; college 1887) Founded as the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese in 1887, incorporated as a university in 1911
(New Delhi)
 British Raj
(Aligarh, United Provinces of British India)
Jamia Milia Islamia 1920 Moved from Aligarh to New Delhi in 1925 and to its current location in 1936.[84]
 British Raj
(New Delhi)
Delhi University 1922 First university established in Delhi, affiliating four older colleges (St Stephen's College, Hindu College, Zakir Husain Delhi College and Ramjas College)
Denmark Danish India
Serampore College 1827 (as university; college 1818) Incorporated and granted university status and the right to award degrees by royal charter of Frederick VI of Denmark on 23 February 1827, endorsed by the Bengal Government Act 1918.[85]
 British Raj
(Calcutta, Bengal Presidency)
University of Calcutta 1857 First full-fledged multi-disciplinary university in South Asia. The University of Bombay and the University of Madras were subsequently established in the same year
 British Raj
(Bombay, Bombay Presidency)
University of Mumbai Called the University of Bombay until 1996.
 British Raj
(Madras, Madras Presidency)
University of Madras
 British Raj
(Aligarh, North-Western Provinces)
Aligarh Muslim University 1920 (college 1875) Established as Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College in 1875; became Aligarh Muslim University in 1920.
 British Raj
(Allahabad, United Provinces of British India)
University of Allahabad 1887
 British Raj
(Punjab, United Provinces of British India)
Panjab University 1882 [86]
 British Raj
(Banaras, United Provinces of British India)
Banaras Hindu University 1916
 Indonesia Netherlands Dutch East Indies University of Indonesia 1924 (as hogeschool; medical school 1851; university 1947) Incorporates the medical school founded as the Dokter-Djawa School Batavia in 1851, which became the Geneeskundige Hogeschool in 1927 and the Rechts Hogeschool founded in 1924.
Bandung Institute of Technology 1920 Founded as Technische Hogeschool. Renamed in 1959.
 Iran Iran Imperial State of Persia University of Tehran 1934 Founded by Rezā Shāh, incorporating portions of the Dar ul-Funun Polytechnic Institute (1851) and the Tehran School of Political Sciences (1899)
Iran Sublime State of Persia Kharazmi University 1974 Named after Khwarizmi (c. 780–850), Persian mathematician, astronomer and geographer. It was established in 1919 as the Central Teachers' Institute and gained university status as Tarbiat Moallem University of Tehran in 1974. It changed its name to Kharazmi University on January 31, 2012.[87]
 Iraq Iraq Kingdom of Iraq University of Baghdad 1956 The Iraqi Royal College of Medicine was established in 1928
 Israel  Ottoman Empire Technion – Israel Institute of Technology 1912 (opened 1924) Founded in 1912, but formal teaching began in 1924
FranceUnited Kingdom Occupied Enemy Territory Administration Hebrew University of Jerusalem 1918
 Japan  Empire of Japan University of Tokyo 1877 Previous names are University of Tokyo (1877–1886), Imperial University (1886–1897), and Tokyo Imperial University (1897–1947). Its origins include a private college of Confucian studies founded by Hayashi Razan in 1630,[88] Tenmonkata (The Observatory, 1684)[89] and Shutōsho (Smallpox Vaccination Centre, 1849).[90]
The university was established in 1877 by the merger of three institutions: Shoheiko (Japanese and Chinese Literature, established 1789), Yogakusho (Occidental Studies, established 1855) and Shutosho (Vaccinations, established 1860), originally as Tokyo University before becoming the Imperial University and then Tokyo Imperial University before reverting to its original name after World War II.[91]
Keio University 1920 (as university; school for Dutch studies 1858) Founded as a "school for Dutch studies" in 1858. College with three university departments (literature, law and economics) established 1890. Accredited as a university by the Japanese government in 1920.[92]
Ryukoku University 1876 (as "Daikyoko (Great School)"; school 1639; university 1922) Traces its origins to a school for Buddhist monks of the Nishi Hongan-ji denomination founded in 1639. Assumed its current name and became a university under the University Ordinance in 1922.[93]
 Jordan University of Jordan 1962
 Kazakhstan  Soviet Union
(Kazakh Autonomous Socialist Soviet Republic)
Al-Farabi Kazakh National University 1933
 Kuwait University of Kuwait 1966
 Kyrgyzstan  Soviet Union
(Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic)
Kyrgyz National University 1951 (as university; institute of education 1925)
 Laos National University of Laos 1996
 Lebanon  Ottoman Empire American University of Beirut 1866 (as degree-awarding college; university 1920) Originally Syrian Protestant College, chartered by the State of New York, took current name in 1920
Saint Joseph University 1872
 Macau  Macau University of Macau 1981 Established as University of East Asia in 1981, renamed 1991
 Malaysia United Kingdom British Malaya University of Malaya 1905 Established as Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States Government Medical School on 13 July 1905 in Singapore
 Maldives Maldives National University 1998 (as degree awarding college; university 2011) Established in 1998 as the Maldives College of Higher Education, establishing its first degree course in 2000. Became the Maldives National University in 2011.[94]
 Mongolia Mongolia Mongolian People's Republic National University of Mongolia 1942
 Myanmar  Burma Rangoon University 1878[95]
   Nepal    Nepal Tribhuvan University 1959[96]
 North Korea Soviet Union Korea
(Provisional People's Committee for North Korea)
Kim Il-sung University 1946
 Oman Sultan Qaboos University 1986[97]
 Pakistan  British Raj
University of the Punjab 1882 Established by British colonial authorities in 1882 as the first university in what would become Pakistan.[98]
Government College University, Lahore 1864 (as affiliated college of the University of Calcutta; university 2002) Established as Government College, Lahore, 1864. Became an independent university in 2002.[99]
Flag of the Israel Defense Forces.svg
Israeli Military Governorate
Bethlehem University 1973[100]
 Philippines Spanish Empire Captaincy General of the Philippines University of Santo Tomas 1645 (college 1611) Founded on 28 April 1611 by the Order of Preachers and raised to university status by Pope Innocent X in 1645. The National Historical Commission of the Philippines recognizes it as the oldest university in the country as well as in Asia.[101]
 Qatar Qatar University 1977[102]
 Saudi Arabia King Saud University 1957
 Singapore  Straits Settlements National University of Singapore 1905 Founded as Straits and Federated Malay States Government Medical School
 South Korea  Joseon Sungkyunkwan University 1895 (as university; royal institution 1398) Sungkyunkwan was established in 1398 as the highest educational institution of the Joseon Dynasty. In 1895, Sungkyunkwan was reformed into a modern three-year university after the national state examination was abolished the previous year. It was again reorganized as Sungkyunkwan University in 1946 at the end of the Japanese occupation of Korea.
Ewha Womans University 1946 (as university; school 1886) Established in 1886 as the Ewha Haktang mission school for girls, started higher education in 1910, and was reorganized as Ewha Womans University in 1946.
 Sri Lanka  Ceylon University of Colombo 1942 Formed in 1942 as the University of Ceylon by the amalgamation of University College Colombo (established 1921) and Ceylon Medical College (established in 1870). Was part of the University of Sri Lanka 1972–1978.[103]
Flag of the State of Damascus.svg
State of Damascus
University of Damascus 1923 Founded in 1923 through the merger of the School of Medicine (established 1903) and the Institute of Law (established 1913)
 Taiwan Empire of Japan Japanese Taiwan National Taiwan University 1928 Founded as Taihoku (Taipei) Imperial University
 Tajikistan  Soviet Union
(Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic)
Tajik National University 1947
 Turkmenistan  Soviet Union
(Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic)
Turkmen State University 1950 (as university; pedagogical institute 1931)
 Thailand Chulalongkorn University 1917 (as university; college 1899)
 United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates University 1976
 Vietnam  French Indochina Hanoi Medical University 1902
Vietnam National University, Hanoi 1904 Originally the University of Indochina, first full subject university in Vietnam.
 Yemen  North Yemen Sana'a University 1970


While Europe had 143 universities in 1789, the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars took a heavy toll, reducing the number to 83 by 1815. The universities of France were abolished[4] and over half of the universities in both Germany and Spain were destroyed. By the mid 19th century, Europe had recovered to 98 universities.[104]

Location Current name Year Notes
Current Original
Albania People's Socialist Republic of Albania
University of Tirana 1957 Originally established in 1957 as the State University of Tirana through merging of five existing institutes of higher education, the most important of which was the Institute of Sciences, founded in 1947.
Albania People's Socialist Republic of Albania
University of Shkodër "Luigj Gurakuqi" 1957
Armenia First Republic of Armenia
Yerevan State University 1919
Austria Archduchy of Austria,
 Holy Roman Empire
University of Graz 1585 (continuous from 1827) Founded in 1585 by Archduke Charles II of Austria. Closed 1782–1827.
Austria Archduchy of Austria,
 Holy Roman Empire
University of Innsbruck 1669 (continuous from 1826) Originally established as a Jesuit school in 1562 before becoming a university in 1669. Closed as a university from 1782 to 1826.
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan Democratic Republic
Baku State University 1919 In 1930, the government ordered the university shut down in accordance with a reorganization of higher education, and the university was replaced with the Supreme Pedagogical Institute. In 1934 the university was reestablished.
(Flemish Region)
Netherlands United Kingdom of the Netherlands
Ghent University 1817 Established in 1817 by William I of the Netherlands
Netherlands United Kingdom of the Netherlands
University of Liège 1817 Established in 1817 by William I of the Netherlands
(Flemish Region and Wallonia)
(Leuven and Louvain-la-Neuve)
KU Leuven and
1834 Founded as the Catholic University of Belgium in Mechlin on 8 November 1834 by the bishops of Belgium. Moved to Leuven on 1 December 1835, after the suppression of the State University of Leuven, where it took the name Catholic University of Louvain.[Note 4] In 1968, it split to form two institutions: Dutch-speaking Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven and French-speaking Université catholique de Louvain.
(Brussels – Capital Region)
Université libre de Bruxelles
and Vrije Universiteit Brussel
1834 Founded in 1834 as the Université libre de Belgique (Free University of Belgium). In 1836, it changed its name to Université libre de Bruxelles. On 1 October 1969, the university was split into two sister institutions: the French-speaking Université libre de Bruxelles and the Dutch-speaking Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Both names mean Free University of Brussels in English, so neither uses the English translation as it is ambiguous.
 Bosnia and Herzegovina
University of Sarajevo 1949
Bulgaria Principality of Bulgaria
Sofia University 1904 ("higher pedagogical course" from 1888)[106]
 Kingdom of Croatia (Habsburg)
University of Zagreb 1669 History of the university began on 23 September 1669, when the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I issued a decree granting the establishment of the Jesuit Academy of the Royal Free City of Zagreb. Decree was accepted at the Council of the Croatian Kingdom on 3 November 1671.
 Czech Republic
Bohemia Bohemian crown lands,
 Holy Roman Empire
Palacký University 1573 Originally known as Olomouc Jesuit University.
Technical University of Denmark 1829 Was founded in 1829 as the College of Advanced Technology
Svensk flagg 1815.svg Kingdom of Sweden
University of Tartu 1632 (continuous operation since 1802) Founded as Academia Gustaviana in the then Swedish province of Livonia. It was closed from 1710 to 1802.
Svensk flagg 1815.svg Kingdom of Sweden
University of Helsinki 1640 Founded as the Royal Academy of Turku (Swedish: Kungliga Akademin i Åbo). It was shut down by the Great Fire of Turku in 1827. The University of Helsinki was founded the next year, in 1828, and it started operating in 1829. The University of Helsinki sees itself as continuation of the Royal Academy of Turku.
 Kingdom of France
Sorbonne University 1150–1250 (continuous operation since 1896) Emerged around 1150 as a corporation associated with the cathedral school of Notre Dame de Paris, it was considered the second-oldest university in Europe. Officially chartered in 1200 by Philip II of France and recognised in 1215 by Pope Innocent III, it was often nicknamed after its theology collegiate institution, College of Sorbonne, founded about 1257 by Robert de Sorbon and charted by Louis IX of France. It was abolished in 1793 by the French Revolution,[4] and was replaced by Napoleon on 1 May 1806 by the University of France system. In 1896 the Louis Liard law allowed the founding of a new University of Paris. In 1970, it split into 13 separate universities and numerous specialised institutions of higher education. In 2018, Sorbonne University was formed from the Paris-Sorbonne University (created from the faculty of humanities of the University of Paris) and Pierre and Marie Curie University (created from the faculty of science and medicine of the University of Paris).[107][108]
Flag of Occitania.svg
County of Toulouse
Université fédérale de Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées continuous operation since 1896 Founded by papal bull in 1229 as the University of Toulouse. It closed in 1793 due to the French Revolution, and reopened in 1896. In 1969, it split into three separate universities and numerous specialised institutions of higher education. It no longer represents a single university, as it is now the collective entity which federates the universities and specialised institutions of higher education in the region.
Bandera del Reino de Mallorca.svg
Kingdom of Majorca
University of Montpellier
Paul Valéry University Montpellier 3
continuous operation since 1896 The world's oldest medicine faculty was established before 1137 and operated continuously until the French Revolution. University by papal bull in 1289. It closed in 1793 due to the French Revolution, and reopened in 1896. The university of Montpellier was officially re-organised in 1969 after a students' revolt. It was split into its successor institutions the University of Montpellier 1 (comprising the former faculties of medicine, law, and economy), Montpellier 2 (science and technology) and Montpellier 3 (social sciences, humanities and liberal arts). On 1 January 2015, the University of Montpellier 1 and the University of Montpellier 2 merged to form the newly recreated University of Montpellier.[109][110] Meanwhile, the Paul Valéry University Montpellier 3 remains a separate institution.
Drapeau de Provence « ancien ».svg
County of Provence,
 Holy Roman Empire
Aix-Marseille University continuous operation since 1896 Founded in 1409 as the University of Provence, and in 1792, dissolved, along with twenty-one other universities. In 1896 it was reformed as the University of Aix-Marseille, one of 17 self-governing regional universities financed by the state. In 1968 it was divided into two institutions, the University of Provence (Aix-Marseille I) as a school of languages and letters, and the University of Aix-Marseille (Aix-Marseille II) as primarily a school of medicine and sciences. In 1973 the University of Law, Economics and Science (Aix-Marseille III) was added. In 2012 the three universities merged and was renamed Aix-Marseille University.
Generieke vlag van Vlaanderen.svg
County of Flanders,
Bandera cruz de Borgoña 2.svg
Spanish Netherlands
University of Lille 1559 Founded by Philip II of Spain in 1559 as the University of Douai. It closed in 1795 due to the French Revolution, and reopened in 1808. In 1887, it was transferred as University of Lille 27 km away from Douai. In 1971, it split into three separate universities. At the beginning of 2018, the three universities merged to form again the University of Lille.
 Holy Roman Empire
Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg 1502 Established in 1502 as the University of Wittenberg. Merged with University of Halle (founded 1691) in 1817.
 Holy Roman Empire
European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder) 1506 (continuous operation from 1991) Established in 1506 as the Alma Mater Viadrina. Relocated and merged with the Leopoldina in Breslau (present-day Wrocław, Poland) in 1811. Reestablished in Frankfurt (Oder) in 1991 after German reunification.
 Democratic Republic of Georgia
Tbilisi State University 1918 Founded in 1918 as Tbilisi State University
 Gibraltar University of Gibraltar 2015[111]
 Kingdom of Greece
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens 1837[112]
 Kingdom of Hungary
Eötvös Loránd University 1635 Founded in 1635 by the archbishop and theologian Péter Pázmány as the University of Nagyszombat. Renamed Royal Hungarian University of Science in 1769. The university was moved to Buda (today part of Budapest) in 1777. The university moved to its final location in Pest (now also part of Budapest) in 1784 and was renamed Royal University of Pest. It has been renamed three times since then: University of Budapest (1873–1921), (Hungarian Royal Pázmány Péter University (1921–1950), and since 1950, Eötvös Loránd University.
University of Iceland 1911
 Kingdom of Ireland
University of Dublin 1592 Founded by Queen Elizabeth I and modelled after the collegiate universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Only one college was ever established, Trinity College Dublin, making the two designations effectively synonymous.
Corona ferrea monza (heraldry).svg
Kingdom of Italy,
 Holy Roman Empire
University of Urbino 1506
University of Pristina 1969
 Russian Empire
Riga Technical University 1862 First established as Riga Polytechnicum in 1862
University of Liechtenstein 1961 Successor to the Abendtechnikum Vaduz in 1992
Flaga Rzeczypospolitej Obojga Narodow ogolna.svg
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
Vilnius University 1579 (continuous operation since 1919) Founded as the Jesuit Academy of Vilnius; the university was closed from 1832 to 1919 and again in 1943–44
University of Luxembourg 2003
Sovereign Military Order of Malta Hospitaller Malta
University of Malta 1769 First established as the Collegium Melitense by the Jesuits in 1592
 Dutch Republic
Leiden University 1575 Although formally still part of the Habsburg Netherlands, Leiden sided with the Dutch Revolt in 1572
 Dutch Republic
University of Groningen 1614 Together with Leiden University, it was one of the only two Dutch universities to retain their status during the Napoleonic occupation of the Netherlands.
 Dutch Republic
Utrecht University 1636 The Utrecht University was abolished during the Napoleonic era, reorganized as a French Imperial School for Higher Education. Only after the defeat of Napoleon and the establishment of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815 was it to be reconstituted as a university.
 North Macedonia
 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Ss. Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje 1946
University of Oslo 1811 Founded as The Royal Frederik's University
Bohemia Bohemian crown lands,
 Holy Roman Empire
University of Wrocław 1702 Founded in 1702 by Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor as the university Leopoldina. It has been renamed five times since then: Universitas Literarum Vratislaviensis in 1742 by King Frederick II of Prussia, Silesian Friedrich Wilhelm University in Breslau in 1811, University of Breslau in the second half of the 19th century, Bolesław Bierut university between 1952 and 1989, and since 1989, University of Wrocław.
Poland Kingdom of Poland,
 Russian Empire
University of Warsaw 1816 Founded as a Royal University on 19 November 1816, when the Partitions of Poland separated Warsaw from the older University of Kraków (founded in 1364).
 Kingdom of Portugal
University of Porto 1836 (university 1911) First established as Polytechnic University of Porto and Medical-Surgical School of Porto since 1836
 Portuguese Republic
University of Lisbon 1911 Successor to the Lisbon General Study, 1290
Flag of the United Principalities of Romania (1862–1866).svg
United Principalities
Alexandru Ioan Cuza University 1860[113][114] Successor to the Princely Academy from Iaşi, 1642, and Academia Mihăileană, 1835[115]
Flag of the United Principalities of Romania (1862–1866).svg
United Principalities
University of Bucharest 1864[113][116] Successor to the Saint Sava College, 1694
 Principality of Transylvania
Babeș-Bolyai University 1518 (continuous operation since 1919)[117][113][118] Academic successor of Academia / Universitas Claudiopolitana (1581), continued by Franz Joseph University (1872), King Ferdinand I University (1919), and Babeș-Bolyai University in its current form (1959).
(Saint Petersburg)
 Russian Empire
(Saint Petersburg)
Saint Petersburg State University 1724 (continuous from 1819) Claims to be the successor of the university established along with the Academic Gymnasium and the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences on 24 January 1724 by a decree of Peter the Great. In the period between 1804 and 1819, Saint Petersburg University officially did not exist
 Russian Empire
Moscow State University 1755 Founded in 1755 as Imperial Moscow University
 Kingdom of Serbia
University of Belgrade 1808 Founded in 1808 as the Belgrade Higher School, by 1838 it merged with the Kragujevac-based departments into a single university, under current name from 1905; Orthodox Christian Lyceum in 1794; Teacher's college in 1778.
Comenius University 1919
 Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
University of Ljubljana
University of Seville 1505
Svensk flagg 1815.svg Kingdom of Sweden
Lund University 1666 A Franciscan Studium Generale was founded in Lund in 1425, as the first university in Northern Europe, but as a result of the Protestant Reformation the operations of the catholic university were suspended.
 Old Swiss Confederacy
University of Lausanne 1537
University of Zurich 1833 (incorporating colleges dating to 1525) University established in 1833, taking in the Carolinum theology college, dating to 1525, and colleges of law and medicine.
 Ottoman Empire
Istanbul Technical University 1773 (university 1928) Founded in 1773 as Imperial School of Naval Engineering by the Ottoman Sultan Mustafa III, but became a state university in 1928.[119]
Istanbul University 1453 (university 1933)

Its ultimate origins lie in a madrasa and institute of higher education founded by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II in 1453; was reformed to a Western style of education with multiple faculties of sciences in 1846; gained university status in 1933.

 Russian Empire
V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University 1804
Flaga Rzeczypospolitej Obojga Narodow ogolna.svg
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
Lviv University 1661 (continuous from 1850) Operated from 1661 to 1773, 1784–1805, 1817–1848, and since 1850.
 United Kingdom
( Scotland)
 Kingdom of Scotland
University of Edinburgh 1582–3[120] Formally established as the Tounis College (Town's College) under the authority of a royal charter granted to the Town of Edinburgh by King James VI of Scotland on 14 April 1582.[121][122] It opened its doors to students in October 1583.[123]
 United Kingdom
( England)
Durham University 1832[124] Claims to be the third oldest university in England.[125][126]

Listed by Rüegg in A History of the University in Europe as meeting standard criteria for recognition as a university from 1832.[124]

Established under the authority of the University of Durham Act 1832.[127] Recognised as a university in the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 and the Established Church Act 1836.[128][129] Incorporated and confirmed by Royal Charter in 1837 and degrees granted equal privileges with those of Oxford and Cambridge by the Attorneys and Solicitors Act 1837.[130][131]

 United Kingdom
( England)
University of London 1836[124] Claims to be the third oldest university in England on the basis of the date of its charter.[132]

Listed by Rüegg as meeting standard criteria for recognition as a university from 1836.[124]

Established by Royal Charter as degree awarding examining body for King's College London and University College London (see below), the London medical schools, and other institutions.[133] Degrees granted equal privileges with those of Oxford and Cambridge by the Attorneys and Solicitors Act 1837.[131]
University College London (founded 1826; charter 1836) and King's College London (charter 1829[134]) claim to be the third and fourth oldest universities in England,[135][136][137] but did not offer degree courses prior to the foundation of the University of London[138] and did not gain their own degree awarding powers until 2005 and 2006 respectively.[139][140] They are listed by Rüegg as colleges of the University of London rather than as a universities.[124]

 United Kingdom
(Northern Ireland)
 United Kingdom
Queen's University Belfast 1845[124] (as college offering degree courses; university 1908) Oldest university in Northern Ireland. Listed by Rüegg as meeting standard criteria for recognition as a university from 1845.[124]

Founded 1845, as a university college offering courses leading to degrees of the Queen's University of Ireland then the Royal University of Ireland, gained university status in 1908.[141]

 United Kingdom
( Wales)
 United Kingdom
( Wales)
University of Wales 1893[142] Founded by Royal Charter in 1893 as a federal university with three constituent colleges – Aberystwyth, Bangor and Cardiff – the university was the first and oldest university in Wales. Listed by Rüegg as meeting standard criteria for recognition as a university from 1893[142]
 United Kingdom
( Wales)
 United Kingdom
( Wales)
University of Wales Trinity Saint David 1852 (limited degree awarding powers; as college 1822) The university was founded as St David's College (Coleg Dewi Sant) in 1822 "to provide a liberal education to members of the clergy" and was incorporated by royal charter in 1828.[143] It was renamed St David's University College (Coleg Prifysgol Dewi Sant) in 1971, when it became part of the federal University of Wales. It was again renamed University of Wales, Lampeter in 1996 in line with moves elsewhere in the University of Wales. In 2010 it merged with Trinity University College to form the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David.[144] Although described as the oldest university in Wales,[145][146] it was not listed by Rüegg as meeting standard criteria for a university[147] and lost a court case in 1951 against the Ministry of Education in which it sought to receive recognition as a university.[148]
 United Kingdom
( Wales)
 United Kingdom
( Wales)
Aberystwyth University 1872[142] (as college offering degree courses; university 2007) Founded in 1872 as University College Wales, offering courses leading to degrees of the University of London, it became a founder member of the University of Wales in 1894.[149] It claims to be "Wales's oldest university",[150] but was listed by Rüegg as a college of the University of Wales rather than as a university.[142] It became an independent university (as Aberystwyth University) in 2007.[151]

Latin America and the Caribbean

Main article: List of colonial universities in Latin America

Location Current name Year Notes
Current Original
 Antigua and Barbuda
 British Virgin Islands
 Cayman Islands
 St. Kitts and Nevis
 St. Lucia
 St. Vincent and the Grenadines
 Trinidad and Tobago
 Turks and Caicos
 Jamaica (Kingston) University of the West Indies 1948 (as affiliated college of the University of London; university 1962) First campus opened in Jamaica as the University College of the West Indies associated with the University of London in 1948. Gained independent university status in 1962.
 Argentina  Spain (Perú)

(Río de la Plata)


National University of Córdoba 1613 Oldest university in Argentina.
 Belize  Belize University of Belize 2000
 Bolivia  Spain (Perú)


(La Plata)

University of Saint Francis Xavier 1624 Founded in 1624 by order of King Philip IV, and with the support of Pope Innocent XII. Full name is The Royal and Pontificial Major University of Saint Francis Xavier of Chuquisaca
 Brazil Federal University of Rio de Janeiro 1920 (precursors trace back to 1792) Created in 1920 as University of Rio de Janeiro.[152] Has as precursors the Polytechnic School (founded as Royal Academy of Artillery, Fortification and Design in 1792),[153] the National College of Medicine (founded as Academy of Medicine and Surgery in 1808)[154] and by the National College of Law (founded in 1891).[155][156]
Federal University of Paraná 1912 (closed in 1920, refounded in 1951) Closed as university in 1920. Refounded as university in 1951.
Federal University of Amazonas 1909 (closed in 1926, refounded in 1962, precursors trace back to 1909) Has as precursor the Free University School of Manaós, founded on 17 January 1909. Became the University of Manaós in 1910. Closed 1926, reformed 1962 as the University of Amazonas.[157]
 Chile Universidad de Chile 1842 Successor to the Real Universidad de San Felipe, created in 1738. Oldest university in Chile.
 Colombia  Spain (Perú)

(New Granada)

(Santa Fe de Bogotá)

Saint Thomas Aquinas University 1580 Founded in 1580 by the Dominican Order. It is the second-oldest university in the Americas.
 Colombia  Spain (Perú)

(New Granada)

(Santa Fe de Bogotá)

Pontifical Xavierian University 1623 Founded in 1623 by the Jesuit Order. First Jesuit university in Colombia. Temporarily closed between 1797 and 1930.
 Costa Rica University of Costa Rica 1940 The first institution dedicated to higher education in Costa Rica was the University of Saint Thomas (Universidad de Santo Tomás), which was established in 1843. That institution maintained close ties with the Catholic Church and was closed in 1888 by the progressive and anti-clerical government of President Bernardo Soto Alfaro as part of a campaign to modernize public education. The schools of law, agronomy, fine arts, and pharmacy continued to operate independently. In 1940, those four schools were re-united to establish the modern UCR, during the reformist administration of President Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia.
 Cuba  Spain (New Spain)



Universidad de La Habana 1728
 Dominica Ross University School of Medicine 1978
 Dominican Republic Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo 1914 Successor to the Universidad Santo Tomás de Aquino (founded by papal bull in 1538, royal charter in 1558) which closed in 1823.
 Ecuador Gran Colombia Republic of Colombia

(Gran Colombia)


Central University of Ecuador 1826
 El Salvador  El Salvador Universidad de El Salvador 1841 Founded on 16 February 1841 by President Juan Lindo.
 Grenada St. George's University 1976
 Guatemala  Spain (New Spain)



Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala 1676 (as colegio in 1562) The San Carlos University was the fourth university founded in the Americas, when Guatemala was part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. It had five major transformations but never ceased teaching. It grew out of the Colegio de Santo Tomas de Aquino (a high school), founded in 1562 by Bishop Francisco Marroquin. The university's founder was King Charles II of Spain and it was consecrated by Pope Innocent XI in 1687. Activities were interrupted after the Act of Independence of Central America in 1821.[citation needed]
 Guyana  British Guiana University of Guyana 1963
 Haiti  Haiti Université d'État d'Haïti 1820
 United States occupation of Haiti Université Adventiste d'Haïti 1921
 Honduras Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras 1847
 Mexico Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México 1910 Traces its origins back to Real y Pontificia Universidad de México (1551–1865) but no institutional continuity.
Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo 1917 (as university; college 1540) Founded in 1540 as Colegio de San Nicolás Obispo (St. Nicholas Bishop College) and later in 1543 was appointed Real Colegio de San Nicolás Obispo (Royal St. Nicholas Bishop College) by King Carlos I of Spain; it was converted into a university on 15 October 1917.[158]
 Panama Universidad de Panamá 1935
 Paraguay Universidad Nacional de Asunción 1889
 Peru  Spain (Perú)



National University of San Marcos 1551 Also known as the "Dean university of the Americas"; It is the first officially established (privilege by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor) and the longest continuously operating university in the Americas.
 Peru National University of Saint Augustine 1828
 Puerto Rico University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras 1903 Original campus of the University of Puerto Rico
 Suriname  Kingdom of the Netherlands Anton de Kom University 1968
 Uruguay Universidad de la República 1849
 United States Virgin Islands University of the Virgin Islands 1967 (degree awarding; college 1962; university 1986) Established by act of legislature in 1962. Opened in 1963 as the College of the Virgin Islands, offering only associate degrees. First bachelor's degree programmes 1967. Became the University of the Virgin Islands in 1986.[159]
 Venezuela  Spain (Perú)



Central University of Venezuela 1721

North America

See also: Colonial colleges and First university in the United States

In the United States, the colonial colleges awarded degrees from their foundation, but none were formally named as universities prior to the American Revolution, leading to various claims to be the first university in the United States. The earliest Canadian institutions were founded as colleges, without degree awarding powers, and gained degree granting authority and university status later.

Location Current name Year Notes
Current Original
 Bermuda University of the West Indies 2009 (Bermudian membership) First campus opened in Jamaica as the University College of the West Indies associated with the University of London in 1948. Gained independent university status in 1962. Bermuda joined the university in 2009.[160] Bermuda has also had a community college, Bermuda College, since 1974.
(Halifax, Nova Scotia)
United Kingdom Nova Scotia
University of King's College 1802 (as university; collegiate school 1789) Traces its roots back to the King's College in New York City, which was first founded in 1754. Following the American Revolution, Loyalists at the college fled to Windsor, Nova Scotia, and established as the King's Collegiate School in 1789. It received a royal charter in 1802 establishing it (after the model of Trinity College Dublin) as "The Mother of a University", making it the oldest chartered university in Canada.[161][162][163] A fire destroyed the original university in 1920, and the institution relocated to Halifax.
University of Greenland 1989 (as university; college 1983) Established 1983, took name University of Greenland 1987, formal university status by legislation since 1 September 1989.[164]
France Saint Pierre and Miquelon Institut Frecker 1975 (part of Memorial University of Newfoundland)[165]
 United States
(Cambridge, Massachusetts)
United States Massachusetts
Harvard University 1636 Founded in 1636, named Harvard College in 1639, chartered in 1650. Oldest institution of higher education in the United States. Officially recognised as a university by the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780.[166][167]
 United States
(Williamsburg, Virginia)
United States Virginia
(Middle Plantation)
The College of William & Mary 1693 (continuously since 1888) Chartered in 1693. Claims to be the "first college to become a university" in the US, in 1779.[168] Named as a studium generale in its royal charter, leading to the additional claim that it was "a university by grant, a studium generale ex privilegio as the medieval jurists would have said it, since 1693".[169]

Briefly closed during two different periods: from 1861 to 1869 due to the Civil War and postwar financial problems, and 1882 to 1888 due to continued financial difficulties.

 United States
(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
United States Pennsylvania
(Pennsylvania Colony)
University of Pennsylvania 1755 Traces its roots to a charity school founded in 1740. Collegiate charter 1755. Claims to be "the first American institution of higher education to be named a university" (in 1779).[170]


Location Current name Year Notes
Current Original
( New South Wales)
 New South Wales University of Sydney 1850 Oldest in New South Wales, Australia and Oceania.
( Victoria)
 Victoria University of Melbourne 1853 Oldest in Victoria.
( South Australia)
 South Australia University of Adelaide 1874 Oldest in South Australia.
University of South Australia 1889 UniSA was formed in 1991 by the merger of the South Australian Institute of Technology with three South Australian College of Advanced Education campuses.
( Tasmania)
 Tasmania University of Tasmania 1890 Oldest in Tasmania.
( Queensland)
University of Queensland 1909 Oldest in Queensland.
( Western Australia)
University of Western Australia 1911 Oldest in Western Australia.
( Australian Capital Territory)
Australian National University 1946 Oldest in Australian Capital Territory.
( Northern Territory)
Charles Darwin University 1989 Founded as University of the Northern Territory in 1989, merged with other institutions to form Charles Darwin University in 2003.[171]
 Cook Islands
 Marshall Islands
 Solomon Islands
Fiji Colony of Fiji University of the South Pacific 1968 Regional university, operating in (and owned by the governments of) 12 Pacific island nations. Main campus in Fiji.
 Guam  Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands University of Guam 1965 (degree granting; college 1952; university 1968)
 Papua New Guinea  Papua New Guinea University of Papua New Guinea 1965 First university in Papua New Guinea.
 New Zealand
( Otago)
Flag of New Zealand Government Ships 1867.svg
New Zealand
University of Otago 1869 Oldest in New Zealand.
 New Zealand
University of Auckland 1883 Oldest in the North Island.

See also



  1. ^ 'The statement that all universities are descended either directly or by migration from these three prototypes [Oxford, Paris, and Bologna] depends, of course, on one's definition of a university. And I must define a university very strictly here. A university is something more than a center of higher education and study. One must reserve the term university for—and I'm quoting Rashdall here—"a scholastic guild, whether of masters or students, engaged in higher education and study," which was later defined, after the emergence of universities, as "studium generale".'[2]
  2. ^ "No one today would dispute the fact that universities, in the sense in which the term is now generally understood, were a creation of the Middle Ages, appearing for the first time between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. It is no doubt true that other civilizations, prior to, or wholly alien to, the medieval West, such as the Roman Empire, Byzantium, Islam, or China, were familiar with forms of higher education which a number of historians, for the sake of convenience, have sometimes described as universities.Yet a closer look makes it plain that the institutional reality was altogether different and, no matter what has been said on the subject, there is no real link such as would justify us in associating them with medieval universities in the West. Until there is definite proof to the contrary, these latter must be regarded as the sole source of the model which gradually spread through the whole of Europe and then to the whole world. We are therefore concerned with what is indisputably an original institution, which can only be defined in terms of a historical analysis of its emergence and its mode of operation in concrete circumstances."[9]
  3. ^ "Thus the university, as a form of social organization, was peculiar to medieval Europe. Later, it was exported to all parts of the world, including the Muslim East; and it has remained with us down to the present day. But back in the Middle Ages, outside of Europe, there was nothing anything quite like it anywhere."[10]
  4. ^ The Court of Cassation of Belgium ruled 26 November 1846, that this new Catholic University of Louvain founded in Mechlin in 1834 does not have any links with the Old University of Louvain founded in 1425 and abolished in 1797 and can not be regarded as continuing it: "The Catholic University of Louvain can not be regarded as continuing the old University of Louvain", in, Table générale alphabétique et chronologique de la Pasicrisie Belge contenant la jurisprudence du Royaume de 1814 à 1850, Brussels, 1855, p. 585, column 1, alinea 2. See also: Bulletin Usuel des Lois et Arrêtés, 1861, p.166. To see also this rule of the Cour d'Appel of 1844: La Belgique Judiciaire, 28 July 1844 n° 69, p. 1 : "Cour d'Appel de Bruxelles. Deuxième chambre. L'université libre de Louvain ne représente pas légalement l'antique université de cette ville. Attendu que cette université (l'ancienne Université de Louvain), instituée par une bulle papale, de concert avec l'autorité souveraine, formait un corps reconnu dans l'État, ayant différentes attributions, dont plusieurs même lui étaient déléguées par le pouvoir civil; Attendu que ce corps a été supprimé par les lois de la république française; Attendu que l'université existant actuellement à Louvain ne peut être considérée comme continuant celle qui existait en 1457, ces deux établissemens ayant un caractère bien distinct, puisque l'université actuelle, non reconnue comme personne civile, n'est qu'un établissement tout-à-fait privé, résultat de la liberté d'enseignement, en dehors de toute action du pouvoir et sans autorité dans l'État...". "Court of Appeal of Brussels. Second Chamber. The Free University of Louvain is not legally representend the old university in that city. Whereas this University (formerly University of Louvain), established by a papal bull, together with the sovereign authority, formed a body recognized by the State, with different functions, many of which even he was delegated by the civil power. And whereas this body was removed by the laws of the French Republic; Whereas the currently existing university in Leuven can not be regarded as continuing that which existed in 1457, these two establishments with a distinct character, since the currently university is not recognized as legal person, and is institution is entirely private, the result of academic freedom, apart from any action without authority and power in the state." According to Arlette Graffart,[105] only the State University of Louvain, deserves to be considered as the "resurrection of this one" : "elle seule ⟨the State University of Louvain⟩ et non point celle qui vit le jour en 1834 à l'initiative des évêques de Belgique, c'est-à-dire l'université catholique de Malines devenue de Louvain l'année suivante".
  1. ^ The political status of Kosovo is disputed. Having unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008, Kosovo is formally recognised as an independent state by 101 out of 193 (52.3%) UN member states (with another 13 recognising it at some point but then withdrawing their recognition), while Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own territory.


  1. ^ a b de Ridder-Symoens, Hilde: A History of the University in Europe: Volume 1, Universities in the Middle Ages, Cambridge University Press, 1992, ISBN 0-521-36105-2, pp. 47–55
  2. ^ a b Hyde, J. K. (1991). "Universities and Cities in Medieval Italy". In Bender, Thomas (ed.). The university and the city: from medieval origins to the present. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 13–14. ISBN 978-0-19-506775-0.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at Jacques Verger (16 October 2003). Hilde de Ridder-Symoens; Walter Rüegg (eds.). Patterns. A History of the University in Europe. Vol. 1, Universities in the Middle Ages. Cambridge University Press. pp. 62–65, 68. ISBN 9780521541138.
  4. ^ a b c Jones, Colin (2006). "Queen of Cities". Paris : The Biography of a City. Paris: Penguin Books. p. 60. ISBN 978-0-14-303671-5.
  5. ^ de Ridder-Symoens, Hilde: A History of the University in Europe: Volume 1, Universities in the Middle Ages, Cambridge University Press, 1992, ISBN 0-521-36105-2, pp. 47–55
  6. ^ Paul L. Gaston (2010). The Challenge of Bologna. p. 18. ISBN 978-1-57922-366-3. Retrieved 25 December 2022.
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  9. ^ Verger, Jacques: "Patterns", in: Ridder-Symoens, Hilde de (ed.): A History of the University in Europe. Vol. I: Universities in the Middle Ages, Cambridge University Press, 2003, ISBN 978-0-521-54113-8, pp. 35–76 (35):
  10. ^ Makdisi, George: "Madrasa and University in the Middle Ages", Studia Islamica, No. 32 (1970), pp. 255–264 (264):
  11. ^ a b Rüegg, Walter: "Foreword. The University as a European Institution", in: A History of the University in Europe. Vol. 1: Universities in the Middle Ages, Cambridge University Press, 1992, ISBN 0-521-36105-2, pp. XIX–XX.
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  16. ^ Paul F. Grendler (3 November 2004). The Universities of the Italian Renaissance. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 6. ISBN 9781421404233. it is not likely that enough instruction and organization existed to merit the term university before the 1150s, and it might not have happened before the 1180s
  17. ^ L. W. B. Brockliss (2016). The University of Oxford: A History. Oxford University Press. p. 6. ISBN 9780199243563. The first indications of the gestation of a scholars' guild comes from Bologna in 1189 when the commune forced the masters to swear not to transfer the studium to another town. Thereafter, evidence confirming that Bologna had become a universitas and announcing similar developments elsewhere proliferate. The collective identity of the many Paris schools received some sort of official recognition in 1194 when their scholars were implicitly given a grant of clerical immunity by Pope Celestine III, which were confirmed six years later by the king, Philip II. By 1208 a university had definitely begun to take shape. In that year the city's bishop, who claimed the right to license private teachers and interfere in their teaching, accepted that the masters could form an autonomous guild and police themselves, albeit under his ultimate control. In 1215 the pope blessed this arrangement by granting the fledgling university is first statutes.
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