The quality and importance of an educational institute are decided by its age. The older the institution, the more is the trust of people over it. Education is not new to the world and the world had many prestigious universities and colleges even centuries ago. If we look at global history, the international boundaries shift every 50 to 60 years. Even before the larger part of the world was not sure about its boundaries, it was sure about the necessity of education and that is why some universities across the globe are decades or even centuries older than some of the modern countries.

This list features 8 of the world’s oldest universities and some of the universities in the list are older than the modern civilisation.

8. University of Perugia: The University of Perugia is one of the oldest universities in the world. It was built in 1308 and the pope of that time, Pope Clement V recognised the vote. It is not that the university was not functional before 1308. It was an educational institute much before that. However, it was only after the recognition by the Pope that institute was given the status of a University. Many Popes have studied at the University. More than 28,000 students currently study at the university.

7. Sapienza University of Rome: The Sapienza University of Rome holds a lot of significance in the region as several Nobel laureates have shaped their careers in the University. Many teachers in the University have also won Nobel. According to the records, it is the 12th oldest university in the world. It was also the first pontifical university, created by Pope Boniface VIII. The University was started with the purpose of theological teachings. 

6. University of Coimbra: The Portuguese University was established in the capital city of Lisbon but it was moved several times before it was finally shifted to Coimbra. It was established in 1290 after the country’s powers bolstered the efforts to increase the quality of education in the region. Students from many countries come to study at the university and it currently has around 24,000 students. It is also one of the most beautiful institutional buildings and that is why the university got a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2013.

5. University of Siena: The University of Siena is one of the oldest universities in the world and the campus of the institution is very unique. Despite being a Siena town, the emphasis on education was always there since the 13th century. More than 20,000 students currently study in the country. This count is nearly half the town’s population. IT was built in 1240 but the count of students grew significantly in 1321 after a huge number of students switched from the University of Bologna to the University of Siena.

4. University of Salamanca: The University of Salamanca is regarded as the oldest university in Spain. However, it is another thing that the university is older than the existence of Spain. It came into existence before the international boundaries of Spain were decided. The University is located in Castile and Leon and it was given the status of a University in 1164. However, it has been an educational institute since 1094. It was the university where discussions were held regarding Christopher Columbus’ trip around Spain.

3. University of Bologna: The University of Bologna is as old as the concept of education in the Western World. While the institute was given a royal charter in 1158 by Frederick I, it has been in existence since 1088. For several years, only canon and civil law were taught in the university. It is one of the finest Universities in Italy and has managed to maintain academic excellence nearly a century after its establishment.

2. University of Al-Karaouine: The University of Al-Karaouine was founded by Fatima al-Fihri in 859 in Fes, Morocco. It is also known as Al-Quaraouiyine University and was founded as a community mosque with a community school. According to the Guinness World Records, it is the “oldest existing, and continually operating educational institution in the world”. The university is still functional and offers studies in Islamic studies, legal sciences, comparative jurisprudence, and more.

1. Nalanda University: While modern-day records fail to register the history of the oldest university in the world, Nalanda University remains to be an epitome of academic excellence in the region. When a larger part of the world was uncivilised, the Indian subcontinent was well aware of the necessity of education. According to the ancient records, Nalanda University was founded in the 5th century BC. Many notable personalities like Lord Buddha visited this University. There were over 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers in the University and it also had the world’s largest library. Unfortunately, the university was attacked several times by Muslim invaders due to its significance in a predominantly Hindu region. It was destroyed by Bakhtiyar Khilji in 1200 CE. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.