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The primary objective of higher learning institutions is to offer solutions by conducting research and to teach various professions. Courses offered fall under two categories: natural sciences and humanities. Although primary objective is to train, medieval universities were not as organized as contemporary ones. In fact, many did not even have modern lecture halls like those we see today. All they needed was a room to turn it into a classroom.


Some establishments have peculiar university facts unique to them. Check out these surprising facts that probably you have never heard about.

Medieval colleges in Europe

Surprisingly, the majority of ancient academic institutions (5th-15th century) founded in Europe are still operating today. Main courses that were offered then included theology, medicine, arts, and law. Unlike today, when most students are 18 years old and over, medieval learners were as young as 14 years could be admitted.


Despite intense competition between modern colleges, these ancient ones have adapted accordingly in order to remain relevant. Below is a list of medieval universities based in Europe:


a)      University of Bologna was started in Italy in 1088 and is among the oldest.


b)      University of Oxford which was established between 1096 and 1167 in the United Kingdom.


c)      University of Salamanca, Spain. It was founded in the 1130s and was awarded university status in 1254. It is also here that Christopher Columbus defended his quest for his Indies expedition in the 15th century.


d)     The University of Paris was founded between 1160 and 1250 in France. It is popularly known as ‘La Sorbonne’ and is the oldest university in this region. Unfortunately, between 1793 and 1896 it suspended its operations due to the hostile environment occasioned by French Revolution.


e)      University of Cambridge, United Kingdom: It began its operations in 1209. It was started by groups that were leaving Oxford due to political intolerances. Today it hosts over 19,000 students.



18th Century history of universities in the US

1.      Harvard

This educational facility was founded in 1636 and is the oldest in the United States. Contrary to what many thought, Harvard was originally known as ‘New College’ and was started as a clergy training center. In 1639 after the death of Reverend John Harvard, the college was named after him in honor and appreciation of huge estates and a library he bequeathed to the institution upon his demise.

In the 18th century, this institution had one of the best professors in the region and it is on this strength that medical studies were introduced in 1782. Some buildings of the 18th century like the Massachusetts hall and the Wadsworth house can still be seen on its compound.

2.      The University of North Carolina

This center is among the oldest institutions of higher learning in the US. It was started in 1795 and in first two weeks, only one student had been enrolled but later, others joined. College is not only known for its academic excellence but also for its athletic dominance, especially in basketball. It is also reputed as the first college to award degrees in the 18th century.

3.      The University of Georgia

This institution is based in Athens (Georgia, U.S.) and it opened its doors to the public in 1785 but later opened other campuses in other areas. Surprisingly, Georgia was the last state to join United States union but the first to have a public institution.

4.      Indiana University

This educational institution was established in 1820 through the enactment of a legislative act that enabled it to open a seminary in Bloomington. In 1824, it started admitting students but unfortunately, only males were allowed and in 1830, its 1st batch of students graduated. Eight years later, seminary was renamed to Indiana College

In 1838, Indiana College became an institute of higher education and is today reputed as the first public college to admit female students after it allowed Sarah Parke to enroll in 1867 and two years later, she graduated.

Indiana College is currently one of the best performing institutions of higher learning in the world and has continued to evolve to match economic reality of region as well as meet interests of students. It is also among those offering outreach programs through distance learning.


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