Old Universities In Europe, Their Years Of Establishment and Rankings

Joseph Kanu
Joseph Kanu  - Content Writer, Editor and Blogger February 24, 2023
Updated 2023/02/24 at 5:04 PM
Old Universities In Europe

The University as a system is a citadel of education or learning where students study for degrees and as well carry out academic research. If you want to know about the old universities in Europe? Then you should check out this detailed and informative article.

In this article, we’re going to point out just ten old universities in Europe and provide you with brief details about them like their years of establishment, locations and rankings and possibly their academic affiliations.

Below are the top 10 old universities in Europe:

1. University of Bologna

University of Bologna | 10. Oldest Universities in Europe | MastersAvenue

The University of Bologna (UNIBO) was established in 1088 and is located in Bologna, Italy. The institution is a public university and stands as the oldest university in continuous operation in the Western world as a whole. 

The University of Bologna is comprised of 11 schools and was the first institution of learning to make use of the term “universitas” for the corporations of students and masters, which emerged to define the institution.

The University of Bologna’s origins can be traced to societies of foreign students referred to as “nations,” who hired scholars from the city to teach them and subsequently formed a larger association that became a universitas (University). 

The school is best known historically for its teaching of canon and civil law. UNIBO was central to the development of medieval Roman law, and until modern days, the only degree granted at the university was the doctorate, however, Bachelors’s and Masters’s degrees are now offered in any of the 11 schools that make up The University of Bologna.

The University of Bologna ranks 126-150 according to World Reputation Rankings 2022. 

2. University of Salamanca

The University of Salamanca was established in 1134 and is located in Salamanca, Spain, as a public university and a key centre for the study of humanities. The University of Salamanca is best known for its language studies and courses in law and economics. 

The University of Salamanca began as a Cathedral School in 1130. The university itself was founded in 1134 and granted its royal charter of foundation by King Alfonso IX in 1218.

Scientific research is conducted at the University of Salamanca, and there are some notable research centres associated with the school such as the Cancer Research Centre, the Institute of Neuroscience of Castile and Leon, and the Ultrashort Ultraintense Pulse Lasers Centre.

The University of Salamanca ranks No.601-650 in the QS World University Rankings of 2023.

3. The University of Paris

The University of Paris was established in 1160 and is located in Paris, France. The institution is highly reputed internationally for its sustained academic performance in humanities even from the Middle Ages, especially in theology and philosophy. 

In 1970, the University of Paris was divided into 13 autonomous universities, all of which further reorganised themselves into different groups of universities and institutions. As a result of the division, there are different university groups in the Parisian referred to as “Sorbonne”.

The University of Paris rose up around 1150 as a corporation associated with the cathedral school of Notre Dame de Paris and was closed during the French Revolution period a new University of France replaced it with 4 independent faculties i.e the Faculty of Humanities (French: Faculté des Lettres), the Faculty of Law which later included Economics, the Faculty of Science, the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Theology( closed in 1885).

The University of Paris is ranked 48 in the Best Global Universities Rankings by U.S. News & World Report.

4. University of Padua

The University of Padua was established in 1222 and is located in Padua, Italy. The institution is a public university that now plays a major role in scholarly and scientific research both at the European and global levels, and also manages a total nine museums, including a History of physics museum.

The University of Padua was originally founded as a school of law and medicine and was among the most prominent universities in early modern Europe. At the inception of the school, the first two subjects offered were law and theology, later, the curriculum got expanded.

By 1399, the school had divided into two universities for civil and Canon law and for the teaching of  astronomy, dialectic, philosophy, grammar, medicine, and rhetoric, and subsequently, the University emerged as one of the universities of the Kingdom of Italy in 1873.

The University of Padua is one of the most prestigious institutions in Italy for its contributions to scientific and scholarly research. It ranks 201–250th globally. 

5. University of Toulouse

The University of Toulouse was founded in 1229 and is located in Toulouse, France. The school was one of the earliest universities that existed in Europe. Since the shutdown of the university in 1793 as a result of the French Revolution, the University of Toulouse ceased to exist as a single institution.

The University of Toulouse was formed as part of the Treaty of Paris in 1229, offering theology, and later, Law and medicine were added. In 1969, the university was divided into three separate universities, and the present-day University of Toulouse was founded in 2007. 

After the school was closed down, there have been some number of independent successor universities inheriting the name under the association of universities and higher education institutions called “Université fédérale de Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées” (UFTMP).

The University of Toulouse is ranked 1001-1200 in the QS World University Rankings of 2023.

6. University of Naples Federico II

The University of Naples Federico II was established in 1224 and is located in Naples, Italy. This institution is a state-supported, public and non-religious university that is organised today into 13 faculties under three semi-independent divisions which are the Division of Science and Technology, the Division of Life Sciences and the Division of Social and Human Sciences. 

As part of the school’s history, in 1224, the head of state Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Sicily, made a decision to create an educational institution that was not majorly influenced by the Pope and after the whole process, the school was renamed Frederico II in 1987 as a way of acknowledging its founder. 

The University of Naples Federico II was created to facilitate the cultural development of promising scholars, avoiding any unnecessary and expensive trips abroad, and has since then been in continuous operation in Naples.

The University of Naples Federico II is ranked 185 among Best Global Universities. 

7. University of Siena

The University of Siena was established in 1240 and is located in Siena, Italy. This institution is a public, state-supported university comprised of 15 departments, grouped into four fields: Biomedical and Medical Sciences, Economics, Law, and Political Sciences, Experimental Sciences, and Literature, History, Philosophy and the Arts.

the institution was originally called Studium Senese and offered classes in Latin, logic and law, as well the natural sciences. The further development in the university in the 19th century was setting up new degrees and faculties.

By the 20th century, the student population at the University of Siena rose from 400 to over 20000 in the last few years, and students had the grounds to take part in the local culture due to Siena not being as tourist-like as other parts of Italy.

The University of Siena according to the QS World Rankings is ranked between 601 – 650 and 401 – 450 as per QS and Times Higher Education 2022.

 8. University of Valladolid

The University of Valladolid (Uva) was established in 1241 and is located in Valladolid, Spain. It  is a public university in a region of Spain founded as removal of studies at the University of Palencia by Alfonso VIII of Castile, the King of the region in the late 12th century. 

The University of Valladolid i responsible for teaching higher education in seven campuses distributed through four cities of Castile and Leon: Valladolid, Palencia, Soria and Segovia.The University of Valladolid is ranked 1001-1200 in the QS World University Rankings of 2023.

9. University of Macerata

The University of Macerata (UNIMC) was established in 1290 and id located in Macerata, Italy. UNIMC is a state-supported university organised into various faculties including: Cultural Heritage, Economics, Law, Literature and Philosophy, Media Studies, Education Sciences and Political Sciences. 

The University of Macerata is best know for the study of Law, and majority of classes at the school are in Italian, while some faculties offer courses in English enitrely. The university organises Summer and Winter school studies with focus on Italian language studies.

The University of Macerata is ranked 1501 in World University Rankings by Times Higher Education.

10. University of Murcia

The University of Murcia was established in 1272 and is located in Murcia, Spain. The institution is a public university with facilities and buildings spread across two main campuses: La Merced, situated in the town centre, and Espinardo, just 5km to the north of Murcia, and a third campus for Medical and Health studies is situated by 5km south of the city.

Alfonso X of Castile, the King of the region during the middle of the 13th century founded the first higher institution for learning called the Universitas Studiorum Murciana, and the University of Murcia as it is known today was founded in 1915, however, its seal carries the date of the 13th century founding. 

The University’s main objectives are the creation, development and research into science, technology and culture through study and research, and is the third oldest university in Spain.The University of Murcia is ranked 801-1000 in the QS World University Rankings of 2023.


Just like we earlier promised, we have been able to name 10 old universities in Europe, and provided you with some details including their years of establishment, location and rankings.

If this article was really helpful, you should visit our websigte at https://busytape.com for more interesting educational and informative articles just like this very one.

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