List of 10 Oldest Universities in the World

Since ancient times, there are thousands of institutions, which got established, sought recognition, built, and rebuilt. Students from all across the globe travel for long hours and come to study in these universities because of their value in the World University Rankings. To let you have a brief account of how the universities and, in turn, education evolved in time, here are the top 10 oldest universities in the World known for their valuable contribution to the field of education.

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Oldest Universities in the World

University of Bologna

Location: Italy 

Established In: 1088


The Latin motto for the Universities of Bologna is the “Nourishing Mother of the Studies.” Being one of the oldest universities in the World, it has an enrollment of around 87,760 students, out of which 6,400 students are international. As per the latest QS World University Rankings 2021, the University of Bologna ranks at 160th position. The programs available in the university include Agriculture, Economics and Management, Engineering and Architecture, e.t.c

University of Oxford

Location: United Kingdom

Established In: 1096-1167

The University of Oxford is another in the list of the oldest universities in the World. Every year, around 22,000 students seek admission at oxford, out of which 40% are international students.  The university comprises of a total of 44 colleges and the largest library system in the UK. Oxford is known for its rich alumni network of around 250,000 individuals, which comprise of 120 Olympic medalists, 26 Nobel Prize Winners, and many world leaders. 

University of Salamanca

Location: Spain 

Established in: 1134 

The University of Salamance is yet another oldest university in the World, found in 1134, based in Spain. In 1218, the university received the Royal Charter. The QS World University Rankings 2021 ranks this university in the range of 601-650. The University of Salamanca is known to cater to 26,746 students across the nine university campuses. 

University of Paris

Location: France

Established in: 1160-1250

The University of Paris is often known as “la Sorbonne,” one of the first established universities in Europe. In the present time, the University of Paris has its campus scattered throughout the city with a division of 13 autonomous institutions, all highly-reputed. Out of the 14 institutes that the University of Paris comprises, the highest-ranked is the Sorbonne University. 

University of Cambridge

Location: UK

Established in: 1209

The University of Cambridge is a collegiate public research institution located in the heart of Cambridge. In this university, there are over 18,000 students from global countries. Since 1209, the university is considered one of the oldest universities in the World with fine architecture and huge buildings divided into 31 autonomous colleges. With over six academic schools, including arts and humanities, biological sciences. Clinical medicine. Humanities and social sciences, physical sciences, and technology, the university comprised of over 150 faculty members and other guiding institutions. 

University of Padua

Location: Italy

Established in: 1222

Since ancient times, the University of Padua is one of the medieval universities that are still operating as one of the reputed university. The most valuable reasons why it is one of the best universities in Italy include:-

  • A broad range of multidisciplinary courses 
  • The top 250th university ranking in the World
  • A leading university in research, supporting the advancement of knowledge, science, and society
  • One of the oldest universities in Europe and an accredited institution 

University of Naples Federico 2

Location: Italy

Established in: 1224

The University of Naples Federico 2 was founded by the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in late 1224. Situated in Naples, Italy, the university counts itself in the oldest universities ever built in Europe. In the World University Ranking, the university has its place in the 392nd position. The renounce of the university attracts over 80,000 students from a global location, teaching a wide range of programs. One of the most famous alumni from the university is the great philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas. 

University of Siena

Location: Italy

Established in: 1240

The University of Siena is present in the Tuscany region as one of the oldest universities in the World and Europe. With a strong global standing, the university ranks 651-700 in the World Global University Ranking. Every year, the university receives a plethora of students from all around the World. What attracts students the most is the cities heritage too. While studying in Italy, one seeks to attract students to explore the food, art museums, and the medieval heritage sites of the city. 

University of Coimbra 

Location: Portugal

Established in: 1290


Located in Coimbra, the country’s third-largest urban center, the University of Coimbra also makes it to one of the oldest universities in the World.  The university receives a total of over 24,000 students seeking admission every year. In the late 18th-century, the university was the only operating university in the World. Then in the year 2013, the university got a title of the UNESCO World Heritage List because of its historical building, the huge courtyard, cultural traditions, and what not!

Al-Azhar University

Location: Egypt

Established in: 970 AD 

Another significant and one of the oldest universities in the World is Al-Azhar University. The university was initially a ‘madrasa’ teaching students from the level of primary to tertiary but later got the title of a recognized university. In recent time, the Al-Azhar University is at the 41st in the list of the QS Arab Region University Rankings 2019.