There are universities in the world that have a legacy as stupendous as their structures and architecture. Throughout the hundreds of years, many of the world’s oldest universities have disbanded, split into independent schools, or become modernized beyond all recognition.

The antiquated institutions that are here today are significant for their memorable inheritances and for ability to adapt to modern contexts and stay applicable in a globalized world despite extraordinary rivalry.

Here we cover some of the oldest universities in the world, all of which named in one of the QS rankings. This is not intended to be a list of the 10 oldest universities in order of establishment, but instead highlights 10 of the oldest universities which also have a high international ranking.

1) University of Al Karaouine

Location: Morocco 

Established in: 859

The Morocco’s University of Al Karaouine or Al Quaraouiyine is viewed as the oldest university in the world, having been established in 859 AD in Fez. It was initially a college for natural science, but in 1957 different subjects, for example, mathematics and foreign languages were included. This University is viewed as the oldest persistently working degree-granting university in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records.

2) Al-Azhar University

Location: Egypt

Established in: 970 AD

Despite not gaining university status until 1961, Al-Azhar University deserves a mention in this list as it was originally established as early as 970 AD in Cairo, Egypt. Originally a ‘madrasa’, teaching students from primary to tertiary level, Al-Azhar University was first known as a center of Islamic learning but has since developed a modern curriculum of secular subjects, ensuring its survival.

3) University of Bologna

Location: Italy

Established in: 1088

During the 12th and 13th centuries, the university pulled in people from all over Europe. While civil and canon law was the most famous subjects taught there, presently the university flaunts 84,200 students undertaking an assorted scope of subjects. Popular alumni incorporate three popes, numerous businessmen, and several Italian politicians. The University of Bologna is positioned 160th in the QS World University Rankings® 2021.  

4) University of Oxford

Location: United Kingdom

Established in: 1096-1167

With an alumni list that includes 28 UK Prime Ministers, 20 Archbishops of Canterbury, 12 saints, 27 Nobel laureates, 50 Nobel Prize winners, and one Sir Stephen Hawking, the University of Oxford is as respected as it is old.

While the university’s definite establishment date stays somewhat obscure, evidence of teaching dates as far back as 1096, and some claim it was set up considerably before. Initially contemplates were held in leased churches and halls but it quickly developed when Henry II prohibited students in England from learning at the University of Paris.  

Right now fifth in the world rankings, the University of Oxford is really one of the most noteworthy positioned and oldest universities on the world , catering to a student community of nearly 24,300 and operating the largest university press in the world

5) University of Salamanca

Location: Spain

Established in: 1134

The University of Salamanca was established in 1134 and given the Royal Charter in 1218, making it Spain’s oldest foundation, after the now-defunct University of Palencia.  Located to the west of Madrid, it was where Christopher Columbus made a case to obtain royal support for his Indies expedition in the late 15th century.

The University of Salamanca is positioned in the 601-650 range* of the QS World University Rankings 2021 and caters to around 26,746 understudies over its nine campuses.

6) University of Paris

Location: France

Established in: 1160-1250

The University of Paris, also known as ‘la Sorbonne’, is known to have been one of the first built up universities in Europe, although it was suspended from working somewhere in the range of 1793 and 1896, after the French Revolution.  

Today, the University of Paris is dissipated throughout the city, having been separated into 13 self-governing organizations in 1970, all of which keep up the high notoriety of the first university. Of these 13, the highest-ranked are Sorbonne University (another merger of Paris-Sorbonne University and Pierre and Marie Curie University, positioned 83rd in the world) and Université Paris.

7) University of Cambridge

Location: UK

Established in: 1209

Winding rivers, stunning architecture and picturesque bridges, the University of Cambridge is one of the most stunning ancient institutions in the world. It was established in 1209 by scholars who had left Oxford after a dispute with local people. Scholastically, the University of Cambridge regularly maintains its position among the best in the world.

Sharing common basic conventions, Oxford and Cambridge keep up a a healthy sense of contention,, which comes to a head in the famous annual Boat Race event. Cambridge has around 23,247 students, of which 5,340 come from outside the EU.

8) University of Padua

Location: Italy

Established in: 1222

Right now ranked joint 216th in the world rankings, subsequent to rising 18 places this year, the Università di Padova is prominent for its revolutionary early research in astronomy, law, medication, and philosophy.

It now has around 62,500 students in the city of Padua, the setting of William Shakespeare’s renowned play The Taming of the Shrew. In 1545, the Università di Padova set up the Botanical Garden of Padova, presently one of the oldest academic gardens in the world. It additionally runs nine museums.

9) University of Naples Federico II

LocationItaly

Established in: 1224 (1258)

Located in Italy’s third-largest city, the University of Naples Federico II was launched in 1224 by the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Frederick II. Also featuring in the top 500 universities in the world, the historic institution offers a diverse range of subjects to around 100,000 students.

10) University of Siena

LocationItaly

Established in: 1240

This publicly funded university began in the stunning Tuscany region in Italy in 1240, but originally went by the name of Studium Senese. It currently boasts student numbers of around 20,000, which is half of Siena’s population. The stunning city is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so it is no surprise the area lures 160,000 annual visitors.