The word university is derived from the Latin universitas magistrorum et scholarium, roughly meaning “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 the first university. The following list of ten oldest universities in the world shows, through their brief histories and trend.
1. University of Bologna (Bologna, Italy, Founded in 1088)
The first university in the sense of a higher-learning, degree-awarding institute, the word university having been coined at its foundation. At top of the list of ten oldest universities in the world which are in continuous operation.
The Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna is a university located in Bologna, Italy founded in 1088. As of 2000 the University’s motto is Alma mater studiorum (Latin for “nourishing mother of studies”) The University has about 100,000 students in its 23 schools. It has branch centers in Imola, Ravenna, Forlì, Cesena and Rimini and a branch center abroad in Buenos Aires. Moreover, it has a school of excellence named Collegio Superiore di Bologna.
The date of its founding is uncertain, but believed by most accounts to have been 1088. The university received a charter from Frederick I Barbarossa in 1158, but in the 19th century, a committee of historians led by Giosuè Carducci traced the founding of the University back to 1088, which would make it one of the oldest universities in the world.
2. University of Paris (Paris, France, Founded in 1150)
3. University of Oxford (Oxford, England, Founded in 1167)
4. University of Cambridge (Cambridge, England, Founded in 1209)
Founded by scholars leaving Oxford after a dispute caused by the execution of two scholars in 1209, and royal charter was granted in 1231. The university takes 1209 as its official anniversary.
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world (after the University of Oxford), and the seventh-oldest in the world. In post-nominals the university’s name is abbreviated as Cantab, a shortened form of Cantabrigiensis (an adjective derived from Cantabrigia, the Latinised form of Cambridge).
The university grew out of an association of Cambridge scholars that was formed in 1209, early records suggest, by scholars leaving Oxford after a dispute with townsfolk. The two “ancient universities” have many common features and are often jointly referred to as Oxbridge. In addition to cultural and practical associations as a historic part of British society, they have a long history of rivalry with each other.
5. University of Salamanca (Salamanca, Spain, Founded in 1218)
The University of Salamanca is a Spanish higher education institution, located in the town of Salamanca, west of Madrid, in the autonomous community of Castilla and León. It was founded in 1134 and given the Royal charter of foundation by King Alfonso IX in 1218. It is the oldest founded university in Spain and the third oldest European university in continuous operations. It was the first European institution to receive the formal title of “University” as such; it was granted by King Alfonso X in 1254 and recognized by Pope Alexander IV in 1255.
It is the oldest university in operation in Spain. Although there are records of the University granting degrees many years before (James Trager’s People’s Chronology sets its foundation date in 1134), it only received the Royal chart of foundation as “Estudio General” in 1218, making it possibly the fourth or even the third oldest European university in continuous operations. However, it was the first European university to receive the title of “University” as such, granted by king of Castile and León Alfonso X and the Pope in 1254. Having been 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.
According to wonderslist.com