List of oldest universities in continuous operation

This article contains 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 met the traditional definition of a university[Note 1] although it may have existed as a different kind of institute before that time.[1] 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. Thus, for 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, and so some early universities, most notably the University of Paris, which was abolished by the Revolution in 1793,[2] are excluded. Some institutions re-emerge, 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 term was coined by the Italian University of Bologna, which, with a traditional founding date of 1088, is considered to be the first university.[3][4] The origin of many medieval universities can be traced back to the Christian 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.[5]

Other institutions of higher learning, 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 juristic dissimilarities from the medieval European university from which the modern university evolved.[Note 2][Note 3][8]. By some accounts, the University of Ancient Taxila and University of Nalanda were considered to be one of the earliest universities in the world.[9]

Medieval origins

The university as an institution was historically rooted in medieval society, which it in turn influenced and shaped:[8]

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 gradually 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. This process occurred in the following chronological order:[10]

  • Southern and Western Europe (from the 11th or 12th century)
  • Central and Northern Europe (from the 14th or 15th century)
  • Americas (from the 16th century)
  • Australia (from the 19th century)
  • Asia and Africa (from the 19th or 20th century), with the exception of the Philippines, where the University of Santo Tomas was established in the 17th century.

Founded as universities before 1500

Year University Location Notes
(charter granted 1158)
University of Bologna Kingdom of Italy,
 Holy Roman Empire
Bologna, Italy The oldest university in the world. A university in the sense of a higher-learning, degree-awarding institute, the word university (Latin: universitas) having been coined at its foundation. It received, in 1158, from Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa the "Authentica habita", which settled the rules, rights and privileges of universities.[11]
(charter granted in 1248)[12]
University of Oxford  Kingdom of England Oxford, United Kingdom The oldest university in the English-speaking world: Oxford claims its founding ("...teaching existed ... in some form...") as early as 1096, and not later than 1167.[13] Rashdall takes 1167 as the date when Oxford became a studium generale.[14] In 1254, Pope Innocent IV granted Oxford a university charter by papal bull ("Querentes in agro"). Teaching was suspended in 1209 (due to the town's execution of two scholars[15]) and in 1355 (due to the St. Scholastica Day riot), but was continuous during the English Civil War (1642–1651), when the university was Royalist.
1134 (charter granted in 1218) University of Salamanca Kingdom of León Salamanca, Spain The oldest university in the Hispanic world. The university claims to have been founded by Alfonso IX of León in 1218 (although James Trager's People's Chronology sets its foundation date as 1134), making it the third or fourth oldest university in continuous operation.[16] It was the first European university to receive the title of "University" as such, which was granted by the King of Castile and León, Alfonso X in 1252, and ratified by the Pope Alexander IV in 1254. After being excluded from the University in 1852 by the Spanish government, the Faculties of Theology and Canon Law became the Pontifical University of Salamanca in 1940.
(charter granted in 1231)[17]
University of Cambridge  Kingdom of England Cambridge, United Kingdom Founded by scholars leaving Oxford after a dispute caused by the execution of two scholars in 1209.[15] Its royal charter was granted in 1231.[18] The University takes 1209 as its official anniversary.[19] Inspired the establishment of Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, with the first college in the United States, Harvard University named after one of Cambridge University's alumni, John Harvard.
(probably older)
University of Padua Medieval commune of Padua Padua, Italy Founded by scholars and professors after leaving Bologna.[20] The university is conventionally said to have been founded in 1222 (which corresponds to the first time when the University is cited in a historical document as pre-existing, therefore it is quite certainly older) when a large group of students and professors left the University of Bologna in search of more academic freedom (Libertas scholastica). The first subjects to be taught were law and theology. The curriculum expanded rapidly, and by 1399 the institution had divided in two: a Universitas Iuristarum for civil law and Canon law, and a Universitas Artistarum which taught astronomy, dialectic, philosophy, grammar, medicine, and rhetoric. There was also a Universitas Theologorum, established in 1373 by Urban V. From the fifteenth to the eighteenth century, the university was renowned for its research, particularly in the areas of medicine, astronomy, philosophy and law. During this time, the university adopted the Latin motto: Universa universis patavina libertas (Paduan Freedom is Universal for Everyone). Nevertheless, the university had a turbulent history, and there was no teaching in 1237–61, 1509–17, 1848–50.
1224 (1258) University of Naples Federico II Kingdom of Sicily Naples, Italy The first public university,[21] founded by Frederick II, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. The university moved to Salerno in 1253, and its return to Naples in 1258 is sometimes considered as a refoundation. It is considered to be the oldest public and state university in the world.
1240–1357 University of Siena Republic of Siena Siena, Italy Originally founded in 1240 by the Commune of Siena,[22] although Rashdall dates the proclamation of the Studium to 1246, when Frederick II tried to place a ban on scholars travelling to Bologna. 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".[23] Closed temporarily in 1808–1815 when Napoleonic forces occupied Tuscany.[22] On 7 November 2015 the University celebrated its 775th anniversary.
1290 University of Coimbra[24] Kingdom of Portugal
Coimbra, Portugal It began its existence in Lisbon with the name Studium Generale (Estudo Geral). Scientiae thesaurus mirabilis ("the admirable treasure of knowledge"), the royal charter announcing the institution of the University, was dated 1 March 1290, although efforts had been made since at least 1288 to create this first university in Portugal. Papal confirmation was also given in 1290 (on 9 August of that year), during the papacy of Pope Nicholas IV.
University of Macerata[24] Papal States Macerata, Italy Founded in 1290, possibly as a private law school rather than a university. Unknown whether this was in continuous operation, but there is evidence for a school (without degree awarding powers) in 1518. After petitions from the commune to the Pope from 1534, bull establishing a studium generale issued in 1540.[25]
1293 University of Valladolid Crown of Castile Valladolid, Spain Founded in the late 13th century (first documentary evidence 1293), probably by the city.[26][27]
Complutense University of Madrid Madrid, Spain The University of Alcalá was founded by King Sancho IV of Castile as Studium Generale in 1293 in Alcalá de Henares. It was granted a papal bull in 1499, and quickly gained international fame thanks to the patronage of Cardinal Cisneros and the production of the Complutensian Polyglot Bible in 1517, which is the basis for most current translations. The University moved to Madrid in 1836 by royal decree as Universidad Central. The Moyano Law of 1857 established Central as the sole university in Spain authorized to confer the title of Doctor on any scholar. This law remained in effect until 1969. In 1970, Universidad Central de Madrid changed its name to Universidad Complutense de Madrid, its present name. On the other side, the Universidad de Alcalá was restored in Alcalá de Henares in 1977.
1303 Sapienza University of Rome Papal States Rome, Italy Founded by Pope Boniface VIII, but became a state university in 1935.
1308 University of Perugia Perugia, Italy Attested by the Bull of Pope Clement V.
1321 University of Florence Republic of Florence Florence, Italy The University of Florence evolved from the Studium Generale, which was established by the Florentine Republic in 1321. The Studium was recognized by Pope Clement VI in 1349.
1343 University of Pisa Republic of Pisa Pisa, Italy It was formally founded on 3 September 1343 by an edict of Pope Clement VI, although there had been lectures on law in Pisa since the 11th century. Nowadays is one of the most important universities in Italy.
1348 Charles University Kingdom of Bohemia,
 Holy Roman Empire
Prague, Czech Republic Three of four faculties closed in 1419. Merged with Prague Jesuit University (founded in 1562) and renamed Charles-Ferdinand University in 1652. Split into German and Czech parts in 1882; the Czech branch closed briefly during Nazi occupation (1939–1945) while the German branch closed permanently in 1945.[28]
1361 University of Pavia Domain of the House of Visconti Pavia, Italy Closed for short periods during the Italian Wars, Napoleonic wars, and Revolutions of 1848.
1364 Jagiellonian University Kingdom of Poland Kraków, Poland Founded by Casimir the Great under the name Studium Generale, and was commonly referred to as the Kraków Academy. The institution's development stalled upon the king's death in 1370; primarily due to a lack of funding. Without a permanent location; lectures were held across the city at various churches and in the Kraków Cathedral School. Further development again resumed in the 1390s, by the initiative of King Władysław Jagiełło and his wife Jadwiga of Poland; at which point the school became a fully functioning university with a permanent location. 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. Within a month after the liberation of the city, the university again re-opened; with some of the original pre-war staff who survived the occupation.
1365 University of Vienna  Holy Roman Empire Vienna, Austria Modelled on the University of Paris.
1386 Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg Heidelberg, Germany Founded by Rupert I, Elector Palatine. The oldest in contemporary Germany and third oldest Germanophone university.
1391 University of Ferrara House of Este Ferrara, Italy Founded by Marquis Alberto d'Este.
1404 University of Turin  Duchy of Savoy Turin, Italy Founded by the prince "Louis of Piedmont" during the reign of Amadeus VIII.
1409 University of Leipzig  Holy Roman Empire Leipzig, Germany Founded when German-speaking staff left Prague due to the Jan Hus crisis.
1413 University of St. Andrews  Kingdom of Scotland St. Andrews, United Kingdom A school of higher studies was founded in 1410 and became a full university by the issue of a Papal bull in 1413.[29]
1419 University of Rostock  Holy Roman Empire Rostock, Germany During the Reformation, "the Catholic university of Rostock closed altogether and the closure was long enough to make the refounded body feel a new institution".[30] The university closed in 1523,[31] but would appear to have reopened by 1551, when there are records of a number of professors being appointed, including Johannes Aurifaber, David Chytraeus, and Johann Draconites.[32][33]
1434 University of Catania Kingdom of Sicily Catania, Italy The oldest in Sicily. Founded by Alfonso V of Aragon.
1450[34] University of Barcelona Crown of Aragon Barcelona, Spain Founded by Alfonso V of Aragon as Estudi general de Barcelona after the unification of all university education. For forty-nine years prior to that foundation, however, the city had had a fledgling medical school founded by King Martin of Aragon, and in the 13th century Barcelona already possessed several civil and ecclesiastical schools.
1451 University of Glasgow  Kingdom of Scotland Glasgow, United Kingdom Founded by a Papal bull.
1456 University of Greifswald  Holy Roman Empire Greifswald, Germany Teaching had started by 1436. Founded by initiative of Heinrich Rubenow, Lord Mayor of Greifswald (and first rector), with approval of Pope Callixtus III and Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, under the protection of Wartislaw IX, Duke of Pomerania. Teaching paused temporarily during the Protestant Reformation (1527–39).
1457 Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg Freiburg, Germany Temporarily transferred to Constance in 1686–98 and 1713–15.
1460 University of Basel Basel, Switzerland Founded in 1460 (Schola Basiliensis), the University of Basel is the oldest university in Switzerland.[35]
1472 Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich Munich, Germany Founded in Ingolstadt in 1472; with a Papal Bull obtained in 1459 from Pope Pius II by Louis the Rich,[36] transferred to Landshut in 1800, moved to Munich in 1826.
1477 Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen Tübingen, Germany
Uppsala University Kingdom of Sweden within the
 Kalmar Union
Uppsala, Sweden Uppsala's bull, which granted the university its corporate rights, was issued by Pope Sixtus IV in 1477, and established a number of provisions. Among the most important of these was that the university was officially given the same freedoms and privileges as the University of Bologna.
1479 University of Copenhagen  Kingdom of Denmark within the
 Kalmar Union
Copenhagen, Denmark The University of Copenhagen is the oldest university in Denmark, and the second oldest in Scandinavia after Uppsala University in Sweden
1481 University of Genoa  Republic of Genoa Genoa, Italy Founded in 1481 (Genuense Athenaeum).
1495 University of Aberdeen  Kingdom of Scotland Aberdeen, United Kingdom King's College was founded by a Papal bull in 1495 and then Marischal College in 1593; they merged in 1860.
University of Santiago de Compostela Galicia, Crown of Castile Santiago de Compostela, Spain The university traces its roots to 1495, when a school was opened in Santiago.[37] In 1504, Pope Julius II approved the foundation of a university in Santiago, and the bull for its creation was granted by Clement VII in 1526.
1499 University of Valencia Crown of Aragon Valencia, Spain

Oldest universities by country or region after 1500 still in operation

The majority of European countries had universities by 1500. After 1500, universities began to spread to other countries all over the world. 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
French Algeria
University of Algiers1909
Portuguese Angola
Agostinho Neto University1962Founded 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.
Republic of Dahomey
University of Abomey-Calavi1970Originally the University of Dahomey. Renamed the National University of Benin in 1975 and took its current name in 2001.
(Gaborone, Francistown, Maun)
University of Botswana1964 (as part of the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland; university 1982)
 Burkina Faso
Republic of Upper Volta
University of Ouagadougou1974
Kingdom of Burundi
University of Burundi1964
Federal Republic of Cameroon
University of Yaoundé1962In 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 Verde2001as a result of the merger of the two previously existing higher education establishments (ISE and ISECMAR)
 Central African Republic
University of Bangui1969
University of N'Djamena1971Originally the University of Chad, renamed the University of N'Djamena 1994.
University of the Comoros2003[38]
 DR Congo
Belgian Congo
University of Kinshasa1954Originator 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.
People's Republic of the Congo
Marien Ngouabi University1971Founded as the University of Brazzaville in 1971, changed to current name in 1977.
(Djibouti City)
University of Djibouti2006
Khedivate of Egypt
Cairo University1908The 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 Guinea1995
(Mai Nefhi)
Eritrea Institute of Technology2003Founded following the closure of the University of Asmara, which had been established as a college in 1958
University of Eswatini1964 (as part of the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland; university 1982Originally established as the University of Swaziland, changed to current name in 2018
(Addis Ababa)
Ethiopian Empire
(Addis Ababa)
University of Addis Ababa1950 (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 University1970Founded as the National University of Gabon and took current name in 1978
University of the Gambia1999
 Gold Coast
University of Ghana1948 (as affiliate college of the University of London; university 1961)[39]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 Conakry1962[40]
Universidade Colinas de Boé2003
Universidade Amílcar Cabral2003
 Ivory Coast
Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny1964 (as main campus of the University of Abidjan; university 1996)
Colony and Protectorate of Kenya


University of Nairobi1961 (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 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.[41] Egerton University, which was established as a farm school in 1939 but did not become a university until 1987, claims to be "the oldest institution of higher learning in Kenya".[42]
National University of Lesotho1964 (as part of the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland; college 1945; university 1975
University of Liberia1951 (college 1863)building on Liberia College founded in 1863
(Benghazi & Tripoli)
Kingdom of Libya
University of Libya1956A 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.
Colony of Madagascar and Dependencies
University of Antananarivo1961 (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 Malawi1965
University of Bamako1996
University of Nouakchott Al Aasriya1981
British Mauritius
University of Mauritius1965The 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.
Idrisid Kingdom of Morocco
University of Al Quaraouiyine1965 (as university; madrasa 859)traces its origins back to the al-Qarawiyyin mosque and associated madrasa founded by Fatima al-Fihri in 859, but only became a university in 1965.
Mohammed V University1957Founded as University of Rabat
Portuguese Mozambique
(Lourenço Marques)
Eduardo Mondlane University1962Estudos Gerais Universitários de Moçambique
University of Namibia1992
Abdou Moumouni University1974Originally the University of Niamey
Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria
(Yaba, Lagos)
University of Ibadan1949 (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.[43] and was a university college associated with the University of London. Independent university since 1962.[41]
Federation of Nigeria
University of Nigeria, Nsukka1960[44]First university in Nigeria.
University of Rwanda1963Founded 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 Príncipe2014 (as university; polytechnic school 1996)
 Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
University of Tifariti2013
French Senegal
Cheikh Anta Diop University1957
(Anse Royale)
University of Seychelles2009
 Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone Colony and Protectorate
Fourah Bay College1876 (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.[45][46]
Italian Somaliland
Somali National University1954
 South Africa
Cape Colony
(Cape Town)
University of South Africa1873Originally founded as the University of the Cape of Good Hope in 1916 in was transformed into the federal University of South Africa (Unisa) and relocated to Pretoria.
 South Sudan
Democratic Republic of the Sudan
University of Juba1975
Republic of the Sudan
University of Khartoum1956 (as university; college 1902)[47]Renamed from Gordon Memorial College, founded 1902, when it gained full university status in 1956
(Dar es Salaam)
Tanganyika Territory
(Dar es Salaam)
University of Dar es Salaam1961 (as affiliated college of the University of London; part of the University of East Africa 1963; university 1970)
University of Lomé1970Originally the University of Benin, changed to current name in 2001
Umayyad Caliphate
University of Ez-Zitouna1961 (as university; madrasa c. 737)traces its origins back to the Al-Zaytuna madrasa founded around 737, it gained university status in 1961
British Protectorate of Uganda
Makerere University1963 (as part of the University of East Africa; college 1922; university 1970)
University of Zambia1966
 Southern Rhodesia
University of Zimbabwe1952 (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
Kabul University1931Founded in 1931, formally opened 1932.
(Sakhir, Isa Town)
University of Bahrain1986
 British Raj
(Dhaka, Eastern Bengal and Assam)
University of Dhaka1921First university in Bangladesh, opened 1 July 1921.[48]
Royal University of Bhutan2003
(Bandar Seri Begawan)
University of Brunei Darussalam1985
(Phnom Penh)
French Protectorate of Cambodia
(Phnom Penh)
Royal University of Fine Arts1918
(Changsha, Hunan)
Song Empire
(Yuelu Mountain, Changsha, Hunan)
Hunan University1903 (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.[49]
(Nanjing )
Qing Empire
Nanjing University1888Known 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.[50]
 East TimorNational University of East Timor2000
 Hong Kong Hong KongThe University of Hong Kong1911 (as university; college 1887)Founded as the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese in 1887, incorporated as a university in 1911
Danish India
Serampore College1827 (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.[51]
 British Raj
(Calcutta, Bengal Presidency)
University of Calcutta1857First 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 MumbaiCalled the University of Bombay until 1996.
 British Raj
(Madras, Madras Presidency)
University of Madras
 Indonesia Dutch East IndiesUniversity of Indonesia1924 (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 Technology1920Founded as Technische Hogeschool. Renamed in 1959.
 Iran Imperial State of PersiaUniversity of Tehran1934founded by Rezā Shāh, incorporating portions of the Dar ul-Funun Polytechnic Institute (1851) and the Tehran School of Political Sciences (1899)
 Iraq Kingdom of IraqUniversity of Baghdad1956the Iraqi Royal College of Medicine was established in 1928
 Israel Ottoman EmpireTechnion – Israel Institute of Technology1912 (opened 1924)founded in 1912, but formal teaching began in 1924
Occupied Enemy Territory AdministrationHebrew University of Jerusalem1918
 Japan Empire of JapanUniversity of Tokyo1877Previous 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,[52] Tenmonkata (The Observatory, 1684)[53] and Shutōsho (Smallpox Vaccination Centre, 1849).[54]
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.[55]
Keio University1920 (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.[56]
Ryukoku University1876 (as "Daikyoko (Great School)"; school 1639; university 1922Traces 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.[57]
 JordanUniversity of Jordan1962
 Kazakhstan Soviet Union
(Kazakh Autonomous Socialist Soviet Republic)
Al-Farabi Kazakh National University1933
 KuwaitUniversity of Kuwait1966
 KyrgyzstanSoviet Union}
(Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic)
Kyrgyz National University1951 (as university; institute of education 1925)
 LaosNational University of Laos1996
 Lebanon Ottoman EmpireAmerican University of Beirut1866 (as degree-awarding college; university 1920)Originally Syrian Protestant College, chartered by the State of New York, took current name in 1920
Saint Joseph University1872
 Macau MacauUniversity of Macau1981established as University of East Asia in 1981, renamed 1991
 MalaysiaUniversity of Malaya1905Established as Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States Government Medical School on 13 July 1905 in Singapore
 MaldivesMaldives National University1998 (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.[58]
 Mongolia Mongolian People's RepublicNational University of Mongolia1942
 Myanmar BurmaRangoon University1878[59]
   Nepal   NepalTribhuvan University1959[60]
 North Korea Korea
(Provisional People's Committee for North Korea)
Kim Il-sung University1946
 OmanSultan Qaboos University1986[61]
 Pakistan British Raj
University of the Punjab1882Established by British colonial authorities in 1882 as the first university in what would become Pakistan.[62]
Government College University, Lahore1864 (as affiliated college of the University of Calcutta; university 2002)Established as Government College, Lahore, 1864. Became an independent university in 2002.[63]
 Palestine Israeli Military GovernorateBethlehem University1973[64]
 Philippines Captaincy General of the PhilippinesUniversity of Santo Tomas1611Founded on 28 April 1611 by the Order of Preachers, it is the oldest extant university in Asia. Receiving the Royal Charter from King Phillip III of Spain in 1611, it was elevated by Pope Innocent X as a Pontifical University on 20 November 1645. The university celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2011.
 QatarQatar University1977[65]
 Saudi ArabiaKing Saud University1957
 Singapore Straits SettlementsNational University of Singapore1905Founded as Straits and Federated Malay States Government Medical School
 South Korea JoseonSungkyunkwan University1895 (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.
 Sri Lanka CeylonUniversity of Colombo1942Formed 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.[66]
 Syria State of DamascusUniversity of Damascus1923founded in 1923 through the merger of the School of Medicine (established 1903) and the Institute of Law (established 1913)
 Taiwan Japanese TaiwanNational Taiwan University1928Founded as Taihoku (Taipei) Imperial University
 Tajikistan Soviet Union
(Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic)
Tajik National University1947
 Turkmenistan Soviet Union
(Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic)
Turkmen State University1950 (as university; pedagogical institute 1931)
 ThailandChulalongkorn University1917 (as university; college 1899)
 United Arab EmiratesUnited Arab Emirates University1976
 Vietnam French IndochinaHanoi Medical University1902
Vietnam National University, Hanoi1904Originally the University of Indochina, first full subject university in Vietnam.
 Yemen North YemenSana'a University1970


While Europe had 143 universities in 1789, the Napoleonic wars took a heavy toll, reducing the number to 83 by 1815. The universities of France were abolished[2] and over half of the universities in both Germany and Spain were destroyed. By the mid 19th century, Europe had recovered to 98 universities.[67]

Location Current name Year Notes
Current Original
People's Socialist Republic of Albania
University of Tirana1957originally 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
People's Socialist Republic of Albania
University of Shkodër "Luigj Gurakuqi"1957
First Republic of Armenia
Yerevan State University1919
Archduchy of Austria,
 Holy Roman Empire
University of Graz1585 (continuous from 1827)founded in 1585 by Archduke Charles II of Austria. Closed 1782–1827.
Archduchy of Austria,
 Holy Roman Empire
University of Innsbruck1669 (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 Democratic Republic
Baku State University1919In 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)
United Kingdom of the Netherlands
Ghent University1817established in 1817 by William I of the Netherlands
United Kingdom of the Netherlands
University of Liège1817established in 1817 by William I of the Netherlands
(Flemish Region and Wallonia)
(Leuven and Louvain-la-Neuve)
KU Leuven and
1834 (claims continuity with the Old University of Leuven from 1425[68][69][70])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
1834Founded 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 Sarajevo1949
Principality of Bulgaria
Sofia University1904 ("higher pedagogical course" from 1888)[72]
 Kingdom of Croatia (Habsburg)
University of Zagreb1669History 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
Bohemian crown lands,
 Holy Roman Empire
Palacký University1573Originally known as Olomouc Jesuit University.
Technical University of Denmark1829was founded in 1829 as the College of Advanced Technology
Kingdom of Sweden
University of Tartu1632 (continuous operation since 1802)founded as The Academia Gustaviana in the then Swedish province of Livonia. It was closed from 1710 to 1802.
Kingdom of Sweden
University of Helsinki1640founded 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 University1150–1250 (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 King Philip II (Philippe-Auguste) 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 Saint Louis, King of France. It was abolished in 1793 by the French Revolution,[2] and was replaced by Napoléon on 1 May 1806 by the University of France system. In 1896 the Law of Liard 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).[73][74]
County of Toulouse
Université fédérale de Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées1229 (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.
Kingdom of Majorca
University of Montpellier
Paul Valéry University Montpellier 3
1289 (continuous operation since 1896)The world's oldest medicine faculty was established before 1137 and operated continuously through 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 the 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.[75][76] Meanwhile, the Paul Valéry University Montpellier 3 remains a separate institution.
County of Provence,
 Holy Roman Empire
Aix-Marseille University1409 (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.
County of Flanders,
Spanish Netherlands
University of Lille1559Founded 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-Wittenberg1502created in 1502 as the University of Wittenberg. Merged with University of Halle (founded 1691) in 1817.
 Democratic Republic of Georgia
Tbilisi State University1918founded in 1918 as Tbilisi State University
 GibraltarUniversity of Gibraltar2015[77]
 Kingdom of Greece
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens1837[78]
 Kingdom of Hungary
Eötvös Loránd University1635Founded 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 Iceland1911
 Kingdom of Ireland
University of Dublin1592Effectively synonymous with Trinity College, Dublin
Kingdom of Italy,
 Holy Roman Empire
University of Urbino1506
Universiteti i Prishtinës1969
 Russian Empire
Riga Technical University1862first established as Riga Polytechnicum in 1862
University of Liechtenstein1961successor to the Abendtechnikum Vaduz in 1992
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
Vilnius University1579 (continuous operation since 1919)founded as the Jesuit Academy (College) of Vilnius; the university was closed from 1832 to 1919 and again in 1943–44
University of Luxembourg2003
University of Malta1769first established as the Collegium Melitense by the Jesuits 1592
 Dutch Republic
Leiden University1575
 North Macedonia
 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Ss. Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje1946
University of Oslo1811founded as The Royal Frederik's University
Bohemian crown lands,
 Holy Roman Empire
University of Wrocław1702Founded 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.
Kingdom of Poland,
 Russian Empire
University of Warsaw1816founded 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 Porto1836 (university 1911)first established as Polytechnic University of Porto and Medical-Surgical School of Porto since 1836
 Portuguese Republic
University of Lisbon1911successor to the Lisbon General Study, 1290
United Principalities
Alexandru Ioan Cuza University1860[79][80]successor to the Princely Academy from Iaşi, 1642, and Academia Mihăileană, 1835[81]
United Principalities
University of Bucharest1864[79][82]successor to the Saint Sava College, 1694
 Kingdom of Romania
Babeș-Bolyai University1918[79][83]teaching existed in Cluj-Napoca since the Jesuits College, 1581, and the Jesuits Academy, 1688
 Duchy of Prussia
Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University1967 (claims continuity with the University of Königsberg, 1544)After the World War II, Königsberg was renamed Kaliningrad, the University of Königsberg (the Albertina) was closed, and the new Russophone Kaliningrad State Pedagogical Institute used the campus of the Albertina from 1948 to 1967. In 1967, the institute received the status of a university and became known as Kaliningrad State University.
(Saint Petersburg)
 Russian Empire
(Saint Petersburg)
Saint Petersburg State University1724 (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 University1755Founded in 1755 as Imperial Moscow University
 Kingdom of Serbia
University of Belgrade1905founded 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 University1919
 Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
University of Ljubljana
University of Seville1505
Kingdom of Sweden
Lund University1666a 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 Lausanne1537
University of Zurich1833 (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 University1773 (university 1928)Founded in 1773 as Imperial School of Naval Engineering by the Ottoman Sultan Mustafa III, but became a state university in 1928.[84]
Istanbul University1453 (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 Western style of education with Multiple faculties of sciences in 1846; and gained university status in 1933.

 Russian Empire
V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University1804
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
Lviv University1661 (continuous from 1850)operated from 1661–1773, 1784–1805, 1817–1848, 1850-
 United Kingdom
( Scotland)
 Kingdom of Scotland
University of Edinburgh1582/3[85]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.[86][87] It opened its doors to students in October 1583.[88]
 United Kingdom
( England)
Durham University1832[89]Claims to be the third oldest university in England.[90][91]

Listed by Rüegg in A History of the University in Europe as meeting standard criteria for recognition as a university from 1832[89]
Established under the authority of the University of Durham Act 1832.[92] Recognised as a university in the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 and the Established Church Act 1836.[93][94] 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.[95][96]

 United Kingdom
( England)
University of London1836[89]Claims to be the third oldest university in England on the basis of the date of its charter.[97]

Listed by Rüegg as meeting standard criteria for recognition as a university from 1836[89]
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.[98] Degrees granted equal privileges with those of Oxford and Cambridge by the Attorneys and Solicitors Act 1837.[96]
University College London (founded 1826; charter 1836) and King's College London (charter 1829[99]) claim to be the third and fourth oldest universities in England,[100][101][102] but did not offer degree courses prior to the foundation of the University of London[103] and did not gain their own degree awarding powers until 2005 and 2006 respectively.[104][105] They are listed by Rüegg as colleges of the University of London rather than as a universities.[89]

 United Kingdom
(Northern Ireland)
 United Kingdom
Queen's University Belfast1845[89] (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.[89]

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.[106]

 United Kingdom
( Wales)
 United Kingdom
( Wales)
University of Wales1893[107]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[107]
 United Kingdom
( Wales)
 United Kingdom
( Wales)
University of Wales Trinity Saint David1852 (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.[108] 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.[109] Although described as the oldest university in Wales,[110][111] it was not listed by Rüegg as meeting standard criteria for a university[112] and lost a court case in 1951 against the Ministry of Education in which it sought to receive recognition as a university.[113]
 United Kingdom
( Wales)
 United Kingdom
( Wales)
Aberystwyth University1872[107] (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.[114] It claims to be "Wales's oldest university",[115] but was listed by Rüegg as a college of the University of Wales rather than as a university.[107] It became an independent university (as Aberystwyth University) in 2007.[116]

Latin America and the Caribbean

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
 JamaicaUniversity of the West Indies1948 (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 Spanish EmpireNational University of Córdoba1613the oldest university in Argentina
 Belize BelizeUniversity of Belize2000
 Bolivia Spanish EmpireUniversity of Saint Francis Xavier1624Founded in 1624 by order of the Spanish 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
 BrazilFederal University of Amazonas1913 (as university; university school 1909; continuous from 1962)founded on 17 January 1909 as the Free University School of Manáos. Became the University of Manáos in 1913. Closed 1926, reformed 1962 as the University of Amazonas.[117]
Federal University of Paraná1912 (continuous from 1951)Closed in 1920, reformed in 1951.
Federal University of Rio de Janeiro1920created in 1920 by a merger of the Escola Politécnica (Polytechnic School, partially descended from Academia Real Militar, Real Military Academy, founded on 17 April 1811), the Faculdade Nacional de Medicina (National College of Medicine, founded on 2 April 1808) and the Faculdade Nacional de Direito (National College of Law, which came to exist after the fusion between the College of Legal and Social Sciences and the Free College of Law – both recognized by the Law Decree 693 of 1 October 1891). It is the largest federal university in the country.
 ChileUniversidad de Chile1842successor to the "Real Universidad de San Felipe", created in 1738. The oldest university in Chile
 Colombia Spanish EmpireSaint Thomas Aquinas University1580Founded in 1580 by the Dominican Order. It is the second-oldest university in the Americas.
 Costa RicaUniversity of Costa Rica1940The 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 Roman 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 Spanish EmpireUniversidad de La Habana1728
 DominicaRoss University School of Medicine1978
 Dominican RepublicUniversidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo1914successor to the Universidad Santo Tomás de Aquino, 1558, which disappeared in 1823
 Ecuador Gran ColombiaCentral University of Ecuador1826Real y Pontificia Universidad de San Gregorio Magno
 El Salvador El SalvadorUniversidad de El Salvador1841founded on 16 February 1841, by the President Juan Lindo,
 GrenadaSt. George's University1976
 Guatemala Spanish EmpireUniversidad de San Carlos de Guatemala1676
 Guyana British GuianaUniversity of Guyana1963
 Haiti HaitiUniversite d'Etat d'Haiti1820
 United States occupation of HaitiUniversité Adventiste d'Haïti1921
 HondurasUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras1847
 MexicoUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de México1910traces its origins back to Real y Pontificia Universidad de México (1551–1865) but no institutional continuity
Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo1917 (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.[118]
 PanamaUniversidad de Panamá1935
 ParaguayUniversidad Nacional de Asunción1889
 Peru Spanish EmpireNational University of San Marcos1551Also known as the "Dean university of the Americas"; This is the first officially established (privilege by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor) and the longest continuously operating university in the Americas.
 PeruNational University of Saint Augustine1828
 Puerto RicoUniversity of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras1903Original campus of the University of Puerto Rico
 Suriname Kingdom of the NetherlandsAnton de Kom University1968
 UruguayUniversidad de la República1849
 USVIUniversity of the Virgin Islands1967 (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.[119]
 Venezuela Spanish EmpireCentral University of Venezuela1721

Northern America

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
 BermudaUniversity of the West Indies2009 (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.[120] Bermuda has also had a community college, Bermuda College, since 1974.
(Halifax, Nova Scotia)
  Nova Scotia
University of King's College1802 (as university; collegiate school 1789)First established as the King's Collegiate School in Windsor, Nova Scotia in 1789. Received a royal charter in 1802 establishing it (after the model of Trinity College, Dublin) as "The Mother of an University", making it the oldest chartered university in Canada.[121][122] A fire destroyed the original university in 1920, and the institution relocated to Halifax.
University of Greenland1989 (as university; college 1983)Established 1983, took name University of Greenland 1987, formal university status by legislation since 1 September 1989.[123]
Saint Pierre and MiquelonInstitut Frecker1975 (part of Memorial University of Newfoundland)[124]
 United States
(Cambridge, Massachusetts)
Harvard University1636Founded 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.[125][126]
 United States
(Williamsburg, Virginia)
(Middle Plantation)
The College of William & Mary1693 (continuously since 1888)Chartered in 1693. Claims to be the "first college to become a university" in the US, in 1779.[127] 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)
(Pennsylvania Colony)
University of Pennsylvania1755Traces 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).[128]


Location Current name Year Notes
Current Original
( New South Wales)
 New South WalesUniversity of Sydney1850oldest in New South Wales, Australia and Oceania
( Victoria)
 VictoriaUniversity of Melbourne1853oldest in Victoria
( South Australia)
 South AustraliaUniversity of Adelaide1874oldest in South Australia
University of South Australia1889UniSA was formed in 1991 by the merger of the South Australian Institute of Technology with three South Australian College of Advanced Education campuses
( Tasmania)
 TasmaniaUniversity of Tasmania1890oldest in Tasmania
( Queensland)
University of Queensland1909oldest in Queensland
( Western Australia)
University of Western Australia1911oldest in Western Australia
( Australian Capital Territory)
Australian National University1946oldest in Australian Capital Territory
( Northern Territory)
Charles Darwin University1989Founded as University of the Northern Territory in 1989, merged with other institutions to form Charles Darwin University in 2003.[129]
 Cook Islands
 Marshall Islands
 Solomon Islands
Colony of FijiUniversity of the South Pacific1968Regional university, operating in (and owned by the governments of) 12 Pacific island nations. Main campus in Fiji.
 Guam Papua New GuineaUniversity of Guam1965 (degree granting; college 1952; university 1968)
 Papua New Guinea Papua New GuineaUniversity of Papua New Guinea1965first university in Papua New Guinea
 New Zealand
( Otago)
New Zealand
University of Otago1869oldest in New Zealand
 New Zealand
University of Auckland1883oldest 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".'[1]
  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."[6]
  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."[7]
  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,[71] 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".


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