7 World’s Oldest and Best Universities

If traced back to its history, higher education institutions have existed since the Middle Ages, and the first institutions to use the term University were founded in the Kingdom of Italy, then became part of the Roman Empire. Most universities have to change from monastic schools that are much older and it is difficult to know when the school will officially become a university. All of the universities we will look at are from various institutions based on religion in their home country and their buildings are usually part of a very large place of worship. Finally, all of these universities developed their curriculum to include non-religious subjects and almost all of them are still operating today.

University of Padua


Padua University was founded in 1222 as a law and theology school. Although 1222 is the first time the university has been cited in historical documents, most historians believe that this school predates that date. This university was started with an organized group of students and teachers that were left from the University of Bologna in pursuit of greater academic freedom. This university was divided into 2 sections, Luristarum for civil and catholic law and the other one is Artistarum for astronomy, philosophy, grammar, medicine, dialectics, rhetoric. They also have one of the oldest gardens in town, they called it Padova Botanical Garden.

University of Cambridge


The University of Cambridge, founded in 1209, was born into an association of scholars who fled Oxford University after falling out with the city’s residents. The school is the second oldest university in the English-speaking world. Cambridge is made up of 31 constituent colleges and more than 100 academic departments, organized into six faculties.

University of Salamanca


The University of Salamanca is the oldest university in Spain and the third oldest still operating university in the world. Like the oldest universities, this university was started as a Cathedral School in 1130. The school officially recognized as a “University” in 1254 by King Alfonso X. A year later, the school was rented by Pope Alexander IV. The university has celebrated its eighth year in 2018 (based on the royal charter from 1218).

University of Oxford


This university is the oldest English-speaking among other universities in the world. Although this has an unknown founding date historians told that teaching at Oxford existed around the 1090s to 1150s. Oxford became quickly thrived after Henry II was banned attempt to attend from the University of Paris. In the 1200s, there was an incident between townspeople and students causing some of their students fled from Oxford and created the University of Cambridge, that’s why two of this university are often called “Oxbridge”. The University of Oxford is very renowned and prestigious also produced many notable alumni such as dozen of Nobel achievement and Prime Ministers of Great Britain.

University of Bologna

The University of Bologna is the oldest continuously operating university and was the first place of study to use the term “university”. The university also the first to introduce “alma mater” it is a Latin for “nutritious mother”, the fact that university provides intellectual content to students into academic use as the school’s motto reads “Alma Mater Studiorum”. The school accepted its charter in the 1150s.

Al-Azhar University

Al-Azhar was founded around 972 AD as a small university to spread Shiite teaching in Egypt as known as a madrasah. This school is the only university in the Arab world that has survived as a modern university and is one of the largest Arabic literature and Islamic learning in the world. Al-Azhar has added some non-religious subjects, such as medical subject and engineering, to its curriculum in the 1960s and within that year Al-Azhar also granted university status.