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Many institutions of higher learning have a very interesting history. University education has taken many aspects of modern life but most universities that have been around for centuries. The oldest ones are:

  • University of Bologna
  • Situated in Bologna Italy, this is a school that is estimated to have been established in 1088 and is considered to be the first one in the sense of higher learning and awarding degrees to scholars. It is so old that the word university developed from its foundation. The University of Bologna got its charter from Frederick Barbarossa around 1158. A committee of historians that was led by Giosué Carducci did research to trace the founding of this old university to 1088. Since then it has been considered to be the first university. It Latin Motto (Alma mater studiorum) means “nourishing mother if studies.”

  • University of Bologna
  • This university was founded in Paris, France but has undergone many changes since the founding. It began in mid 12th century. The founding date is recognized to be between 1160 and 1170, but other sources claim it could be as early as 1150. The University of Paris has however not run continuously. The faculty suspended learning for an entire century between 1793 and 1896. In 1970, it was divided into 13 autonomous universities (Paris 1-XIII) therefore ceased operating as one institution.

    To date, some call it La Sorbonne or The Sorbonne after College de Sorbonne the collegiate system that Robert de Sorbon founded in 1257. A part of it began under the name, but the entire school was not in Sorbonne. Four out of the 23 current successor universities have their presence in historical Sorbonne building. Three of the include Sorbonne as one of their names.

  • University of Oxford
  • The recorded date for the establishment of University of Oxford is 1167, but it is believed to be much older. There are claims that it could even be the oldest in the world since teaching in the institution existed as far back as 1096. There is no precise date about when teaching began, but it developed at a rapid pace from 1167 after Henry II prohibited English student from going to University of Paris.

    Other claims are by All Souls College and The University College that there are documents to prove how teaching at Oxford began in 825. The alleged documents have never appeared in public. What the public knows is that in 1254 Pope Innocent IV granted the university charter in 1254. Like The University of Paris, learning at the University of Oxford was suspended for a lengthy period in 1209 after the killing of two scholars. It was also closed during St Scholastica riot 1355. After that, learning went on continuously even during English civil war of 1642-1651.

  • University of Salamanca
  • The University of Salamanca is famous because of its association with Christopher Columbus, the world famous explorer in ancient times. It is the place where he presented his case to get support for a 15th-century tour of West Indies from the Royals. It was established in 1134 but got its charter 1218. Nonetheless, it was the first European institution of higher learning to get the title of a “University” granted by the Pope together with King of the Castile and Leon Alfonso X. It is in the Western part of Madrid in Spain. The founder King Alfonso IX wanted to imitate recently created universities of Paris, Bologna, and Oxford.

  • University of Cambridge
  • A group of scholars who deserted The University of Oxford after political conflicts in 1209 and got it charter in 1231 established this University of Cambridge. These two institutions are up to now referred to as Oxbridge because they have many similar features. The university name is believed to have come from Cantab an abbreviation for Cantabrigiensis an adjective that founders got from a Latinised form of Cambridge pronounced as Cantabrigia.

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