3 facts about the oldest universities in the UK


To mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, Times Higher Education has ranked the 25 oldest universities over 400 years old, with three UK institutions sitting at the top of the table.

11 different countries feature in the list, but it is the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge and University of Edinburgh who occupy the top three positions. The UK is the most represented nation in the list alongside Germany, with six universities featuring overall.

University of Oxford Facts (Founded: 1096)

  1. It is the oldest university in the English-speaking world as well as the second-oldest continually running university, right after the University of Bologna.
  2. Teaching existed at Oxford in some form in 1096 and developed rapidly from 1167, when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris
  3. Balliol College is Oxford oldest College, founded in 1263, and boasts five Nobel laureates and three former Prime Ministers

University of Cambridge Facts (Founded: 1209)

  1. The first College at Cambridge, Peterhouse, was not formed until 1284, despite the University forming in 1209. Today it is home to almost 400 undergraduate and postgraduate students.
  2. John Harvard, the founder of the oldest university in the US, Harvard University, was a graduate of Cambridge.
  3. The game of Football as we know it was originally played on Parker’s Piece, a public park in the middle of the city. The rules were dubbed ‘Cambridge Rules’ and first used in 1848.

University of Edinburgh Facts (Founded: 1583)

  1. Home to the oldest Student Union in the world and the oldest student newspaper
  2. Chrystal Macmillan, the first woman to graduate in science from the University in 1896, was a key figure in the suffragette movement.
  3. Charles Darwin, famous for his work on evolutionary theory, famously studied at Edinburgh.

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