Oldest University In The World, History and Organization

Joseph Kanu
Joseph Kanu  - Content Writer, Editor and Blogger April 22, 2023
Updated 2023/04/22 at 4:34 PM
The University of Bologna
The University of Bologna

Do you know that the University of Bologna, founded in 1088 by an organized guild of students, is the oldest university in continuous operation in the world?

The University of Bologna is 935 years old from the time it began operations and stands very tall as the oldest university in the world. In this article, we’re going to provide you with all essential pieces of information about the University of Bologna including its establishment and history, organization, among others.

University’s History and Profile

The University of Bologna Università di Bologna (Italian) UNIBO) was founded in 1088 as a public research university by an organized guild of students (studiorum), and located in Bologna, Italy. The actual date of the university’s founding, is rather uncertain, however, most accounts state 1088 as the founding date.

As a part of the university’s history, UNIBO was granted a charter “Authentica habita” by Frederick I Barbarossa a Holy Roman Emperor in 1158, then, in the 19th century, Giosuè Carduccia led a committee of historians to trace the founding of the university back to 1088 which makes it generally accepted date of founding.

The institution as of today is 1088 years old, making it the oldest university in continuous operation in the world and the first degree-awarding institution of higher learning in the world.

This prestigious institution was the first place of study to use the term universitas (university) for the corporations of students and masters, which turned out to define the institution (especially its law school) in Bologna.

UNIBO’s emblem carries the motto, Alma Mater Studiorum which is interpreted in English as “Nourishing mother of studies” and its date of establishment i.e. the date A.D. 1088. The institution has campuses situated in CesenaForlìRavenna and Rimini and as well a branch centre abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The university also has a school of excellence; Collegio Superiore di Bologna, and its associate publisher Bononia University Press. The University of Bologna tops the list of the most prestigious universities in Italy and is often ranked among the top universities in Italy and the world.

UNIBO is particularly renowned and revered for its studies in law, medicine, and the natural sciences. The institution played a central role in the sciences during the Italian Renaissance, where it housed and educated Nicholas Copernicus as well as several other Renaissance mathematicians.

The University’s Impacts In the Aspect Of Law

The University of Bologna is historically known for its teaching of canon and civil law; as a matter of fact, the institution was established in major part with the aim of studying the Digest; a central text in Roman law, which had been rediscovered in the year 1070 in Italy.

The University of Bologna was central in the development of medieval Roman law and until modern times, the only degree granted at that university was the doctorate.

Bettisia Gozzadini earned a law degree in 1237 as the first woman in history to bag a university degree, and she later taught law from her own home for two years, and in 1239 she taught at the university, emerging as the first woman in history to teach at a university.

The University’s Organization

Higher education processes are being made compatible across the European Community, and in the present day, the University of Bologna offers 101 total different first-level degrees( Laurea” or “Laurea breve”) that run for three years, followed by 108 total second-level degrees (“Laurea specialistica” or “Laurea magistrale”) running for two years.

The University’s 11 other courses have retained the preceding rules of “Laurea specialistica a ciclo unico” or “Laurea magistrale a ciclo unico”, with only one cycle of study of five years, except for medicine and dentistry which runs for six years.

After the “Laurea” student may attain first level Master (one-year diploma, similar to a Postgraduate diploma) and after second-level degrees are obtained, students may further take a second-level Master, specialization schools (residency), or doctorate of research (PhD).

The 11 Schools  replacing  the preexisting 23 faculties are:

  • School of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine
  • School of Economics, Management and Statistics
  • School of Engineering and Architecture
  • School of Foreign Languages and Literature, Interpretation and Translation
  • School of Law
  • School of Arts, Humanities, and Cultural Heritage
  • School of Medicine and Surgery
  • School of Pharmacy, Biotechnologies and Sport Sciences
  • School of Political Sciences
  • School of Psychology and Education Sciences
  • School of Sciences

The University of Bologna is structured in 33 departments as against the initial 66 in 2012, it is organized by homogeneous research domains that integrate activities related to one or more faculties and in 2015, a new department of Latin history was added.

The university’s current 33 departments are:

The University’s Affiliates and Other Institutions

 1. Il Mulino

In the early 1950s, some University of Bologna students were among the founders of the review “il Mulino” and in April 1951 the first issue of the review was published in Bologna.

In a while, “il Mulino” emerged as one of the most interesting reference points in Italy for the political and cultural debate and established vital editorial relationships in Italy and across other countries.

2. Collegio Superiore

The Collegio Superiore, founded in 1998 as Collegio d’Eccellenza is an excellent institution situated inside the University of Bologna, aimed at promoting students’ merit through dedicated learning programmes.

The Collegio Superiore offers an additional educational path to students enrolled in a degree programme at the University of Bologna, providing specialized courses as part of an interdisciplinary framework, with all students granted a full-ride scholarship and additional benefits including the assistance of a personal tutor and free accommodation at the Residence for Higher Study.

 The University of Bologna Notable Alumni


In the world today, we have millions of universities across the world, and certain parameters are usually introduced to know what institutions will make the headlines at different times, and that is why you have read about the University of Bologna as the oldest university in the world.

Just as promised, we have made available the relevant pieces of information like the university’s history and profile, then its organization, affiliations, and notable alumni, so you can have a clear knowledge of the institution. If this article really interests you, kindly visit our website at https://busytape.com for more articles like this.

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