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A university is an institution of higher education and of research, which grants academic degrees. A university provides both tertiary and quaternary education. University is derived from the Latin universitas, meaning corporation since the first "modern" (medieval European) universities were simply groups of scholars.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Colloquial usage
3 See also
4 Related terms
5 External links


Arguably the first university was the Academy founded in 387 BC by the Greek philosopher Plato in the grove of Academos near Athens, where students were taught philosophy, mathematics and gymnastics.

The first European medieval universities were established in Bologna (Italy) and Paris (France) in the Middle Ages for the study of law, medicine, and theology. Before that, similar institutions already existed in the Islamic world, notably in Cairo. The most important Asian university was Nalanda, in Bihar, India, where the second century Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna was based.

In Europe young men proceeded to the university when they had completed the study of the trivium: the preparatory arts of grammar, rhetoric, and logic; and the quadrivium: arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. See Degrees of Oxford University, §1 for the history of how the trivium and quadrivium developed in relation to degrees, especially in anglophone universities.

Universities are generally established by statute or charter. In the United Kingdom, for instance, a university is instituted by Act of Parliament or Royal Charter; in either case generally with the approval of Privy Council, and only such recognised bodies can award degrees of any kind.

In the last decades of the 20th century, a number of mega universities have been created, teaching with distance learning techniques.

Colloquial usage

Colloquially, the term university is used around the world for a phase in one's life: "when I was at university…"; the American equivalent is college: "when I was in college…". See college, §3, for further discussion.

See also

Related terms

academia - academy - admission - alumnus - aula - Bologna process - business schools - campus - college - college and university rankings - dean - degree - diploma - discipline - dissertation - faculty - fraternities and sororities - graduate student - graduation - perpetual student - Privatdozent - professor - provost - rector - research - scholar - student - tenure - tuition - universal access

External links