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Oldest Universities in the World for International Students: 10 Oldest Schools in the World

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As per the Guinness World Records, the University of Al-Karaouine, Fez, Morocco, is the oldest and the first university in the world, established in 859 AD. Since then, thousands of higher education institutions have been around for hundreds of years, but not all have endured the test of change. Over centuries, the oldest universities in the world closed, split into autonomous colleges, or modernised beyond recognition. 

The oldest universities still in existence are famous for their historical legacies, ability to adapt to modern contexts, and remain consistent in global competition. In this article, we have covered some of the oldest schools in the world with high international rankings. Let’s dive right into the insights!

Table of Contents

10 Oldest Universities in the World

Which are the oldest universities in the world? Here is a list of the oldest colleges in the world that survived the war of time, change, development, innovation, and technology. 

University Name

Establishment Year

University of Bologna

1088

University of Oxford

1096-1167

University of Salamanca

1134-1218

University of Paris

1160-1250

University of Cambridge

1209

University of Padua

1222

University of Naples Federico II

1224

University of Siena

1240

University of Coimbra

1290

Al-Azhar University

970 AD

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Now you know the oldest schools in the world. Next, let’s explore the key information about them. 

Key Features of Oldest Universities 

Following are the oldest schools in the world, distinguished based on their survival journey, top courses, average tuition fees, location, etc. 

  • University of Bologna

This world’s oldest university among the others is called the “Nourishing Mother of Studies” as per the Latin motto. It has never been out of service since its establishment, offering diverse programs at all levels. Its famous alums include three popes, multiple business owners, and Italian politicians. 

Location

Italy

Top Specialisations

Computer science, Civil engineering, Food science & technology, Physics, Oncology, and Agricultural sciences

Annual Tuition Fee

INR 2.26 to 3.11 Lakhs

  • University of Oxford

Ranking 4th in the QS World University Rankings 2023, this most oldest university in the world caters to a student community of nearly 25,000. Besides, it operates the largest university press worldwide, publishing for three critical markets—research, education, and English language teaching. Moreover, the university’s alumni include 28 UK Prime Ministers, 20 Archbishops of Canterbury, 12 saints, 27 Nobel laureates, 50 Nobel Prize winners, and Sir Stephen Hawking. 

Location

United Kingdom

Top Specialisations

Computer science and information technology, Linguistics, Medicine, Natural sciences, etc. 

Annual Tuition Fee

INR 26.28 to 40.17 Lakhs

  • University of Salamanca

This is the top oldest university in the world that caters to more than 30,000 students. It is known as the “Oxford of Spain” and has six campuses—Historical campus, Campus of Sciences, Campus de Canalejas, Campus Miguel de Unamuno, Campus Ciudad Jardín, and Campus Villamayor.

Location

Spain

Top Specialisations

Art and humanities, Sciences, Health Sciences, Social and legal sciences, Engineering and architecture

Annual Tuition Fee

INR 2 to 4 Lakhs

  • University of Paris

In the list of oldest university in the world, the University of Paris is the ancient one in Europe. Even though this university was suspended for 103 years after the French revolution, today, it is scattered throughout France and divided into 13 institutions. 

Location

France

Top Specialisations

Computer Science, Engineering, Health, Social Science and Humanities

Annual Tuition Fee

INR 13,604  to 49,616

  • University of Cambridge

Being one of the most ancient university in the world, Cambridge University was developed by a group of scholars who left the University of Oxford due to political reasons. Cambridge’s most notable alumni include Sir Isaac Newton, Alan Turing, Francis Bacon, etc. 

Location

United Kingdom

Top Specialisations

Computer science, Engineering, Health, Social science and humanities, Business and economics, Law

Annual Tuition Fee

INR 26.984 to 59.5 Lakhs

  • University of Padua

Ranking among the list of mediaeval universities in Italy, the University of Padua is known for its early research in astronomy, law, medicine, and philosophy. It hosts around 62,500 students, established the Botanical Garden of Padua, and runs nine museums. 

Location

Italy

Top Specialisations

Agricultural science and veterinary Medicine, Forest Science, Food and health

Annual Tuition Fee

INR 15K to 7.22 Lakhs

  • University of Naples Federico II

This university ranks 416 in the QS World University Rankings 2023. It is known for providing quality education to about 80,000 students. Its most famous alumni are the Italian presidents Enrico De Nicola, Giovanni Leone and Giorgio Napolitano; mayors of Naples Luigi de Magistris and Gaetano Manfredi; CEO Fabrizio Freda; and philosophers Benedetto Croce/ Nicola Abbagnano.

Location

Italy

Top Specialisations

Agriculture, Architecture, Economics, Pharmacy, Law, Engineering, Medicine & Surgery

Annual Tuition Fee

INR 2.53 to 30.2 Lakhs

  • University of Siena

This university has a solid global standing with a QS World University Rankings 2023 of 751-800. It provides education to half of the city’s population with 20,000+ students. Besides, the city is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is visited by 1 lakh+ tourists every year to enjoy food, art, museums, and mediaeval heritage. 

Location

Italy

Top Specialisations

Economics, Pharmacy, Law, Engineering, Medicine & surgery, etc. 

Annual Tuition Fee

INR 63.87K to 2.3 Lakhs

  • University of Coimbra

Among the other oldest universities abroad, this university has a student community of over 24,000. This university has been through various radical reforms, and for decades, in the 18th century, Coimbra was the only operative university. Besides, it has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List for its cultural traditions, historical setups/buildings, etc. 

Location

Portugal

Top Courses

Art & Humanities, Clinical pre-clinical and health, Engineering & Technology, Life sciences, etc. 

Tuition Fee

INR 40K to 19.18 Lakhs

  • Al-Azhar University

This university was initially known as the centre of Islamic learning, but later it developed a modern curriculum, including secular subjects, to ensure survival. This school had seen political instability throughout its course, particularly in the 12th century when a new dynasty destroyed its 1,00,000+ texts. However, now it is ranking at the 1201-1400th position in the QS World University Rankings 2023. 

Location

Egypt

Top Specialisations

Science & Technology, Management and business administration, Arts, Language and humanities, etc. 

Annual Tuition Fee

INR 2.05 Lakhs

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Next, look at the list of oldest universities categorised based on top study-abroad destinations. 

Oldest Universities in Canada, US, UK, Australia, Germany & France

Other than the above-mentioned list of oldest universities in the world, let’s explore the list of oldest universities in Canada, the US, the UK, Australia, Germany, and France with their establishment year. 

  • Oldest Universities in Canada

Canada’s 30 universities rank in the QS World University Rankings 2023 among the other 1,392 global universities. This ranking clearly states the country’s academic reputation among international students. Here is a list of the oldest universities in Canada. 

University Name

Establishment Year

Université Laval

1852

University of New Brunswick 

1785

The University of King’s College

1789

Saint Mary’s University 

1802

Dalhousie University 

1818

Université de Saint-Boniface 

1818

McGill University 

1821

University of Toronto 

1827

Acadia University

1838

Mount Allison University 

1839

  • Oldest Universities in USA

USA’s 202 universities rank in the QS World University Rankings 2023 among the other 1,220 global universities. Here is a list of the oldest universities in the USA. 

University Name

Establishment Year

Harvard University

1636

St. John’s College

1850

Yale University

1706

College of William and Mary

1693

University of Pennsylvania

1740

Moravian College

1742

University of Delaware

1743

Princeton University

1746

Washington and Lee University

1749

Columbia University

1754

  • Oldest Universities in UK

UK’s 15 cities are ranked in the QS Best Student City Rankings 2023 among the other 125 global cities. It clearly states that international students consider the US an affordable and desirable city to pursue their education. Let’s check the oldest universities in the UK to begin selection. 

University Name

Establishment Year

University of Oxford

1096

University of Cambridge

1209

University of St Andrews

1413

University of Glasgow

1415

University of Aberdeen

1495

University of Edinburgh

1583

University of Manchester

2004

University College London

1826

University of Durham

1832

Aberystwyth University

1872

  • Oldest Universities in Australia

Australia provides international students with an opportunity to select from 22,000 courses to pursue their higher education. Let’s explore the list of the oldest universities in Australia.

University Name

Establishment Year 

University of Sydney

1850

University of Melbourne

1853

Federation University Australia

1870

The University of Adelaide

1874

RMIT University

1887

University of Tasmania

1890

Swinburne University of Technology

1908

The University of Queensland

1909

The University of Western Australia

1911

University of New England, Australia

1996

  • Oldest Universities in Germany

Germany is considered one of the most affordable countries to pursue higher education compared to the quality of education it offers. Besides, it has globally ranked universities/degrees and numerous courses for international students. So let’s dive into the list of its top oldest universities. 

University Name

Establishment Year

Heidelberg University

1368

Leipzig University 

1409

University of Rostock

1419

University of Greifswald

1456

University of Freiburg

1457

LMU Munich

1472

University of Tübingen

1477

Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg 

1502

Philipps-Universität Marburg

1527

Friedrich Schiller University Jena

1558

  • Oldest Universities in France

The country France has a rich culture, gastronomy, architecture, and fantastic student life. Studying here allows international students to learn the language and gain a cultural perspective. Let’s explore its list of oldest universities. 

University Name

Establishment Year

University of Toulouse

1229

Montpellier University

1289

Grenoble Alpes University

1339

University of Franche-Comte

1423

University of Poitiers

1431

University of Caen Normandy

1432

University of Bordeaux

1441

University of Nantes

1460

University of Western Brittany

1971

University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne

1967

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Now you know which are the oldest universities in the world to pursue higher education. However, after country, course, and university selection, the next step in the study abroad process includes university application, loan/scholarship application, visa application, etc. These steps can be a bit intimidating for first-time study abroad aspirants. But worry not! 

As we are here with our Yocket premium service to reduce the hassle. You can subscribe to it, connect with our expert counsellors, and enjoy their personalised/ end-to-end guidance. They will ensure that your study abroad journey becomes smooth from the initial to the final step. 

Frequently Asked Questions on World’s Oldest Universities

Ques. Are old universities better for pursuing higher education? 

Ans. International students usually prefer old universities due to their reputation and heritage. It is believed that old universities are more established because of their presence over an extended period. However, this isn’t true; many new universities also have top international education rankings. 

Ques. Which is the oldest public university in the world? 

Ans. The oldest public university in the world is Cairo University, located in Giba, Egypt and established in 1908. 

Ques. Which are the oldest universities in the English speaking world? 

Ans. The oldest universities in English speaking world are the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge.

Ques. What are the essential document requirements for admission to the oldest universities in the world? 

Ans. The document requirements for admission to the oldest universities include the 12th scorecard with min 50%, a bachelor's degree with min 50%, a statement of purpose, a letter of recommendation, work experience (for certain programs), English or native language proficiency, entrance exams/ interview scores (if required), academic transcripts, portfolios, etc. 

Ques. Can studying at the oldest colleges give a boost to a career? 

Ans. Studying at the oldest colleges can provide access to better opportunities right after the course, but it doesn’t guarantee a thriving career. Moreover, one can study in the new/ latest university and still build a passionate and progressive career. It all depends on an individual's motivation and focus on achieving something. 

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