Roots of the modern university

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  • Conditions Leading to the Emergence of Universities in the West

Tentative Discussion Outline

  • Modern University Rankings
  • Early Concepts for Universities
  • Forces Leading to Emergence of University Systems
    • The Development and Convergence of:
  • Characteristics of the Emergent University:

Roots of the Modern University Useful Additional Reading

  • Hailman, W. N. (1874). Twelve lectures on the history of pedagogy: Delivered before the Cincinnati Teachers' Association. New York: Van Antwerp, Bragg and Co.
  • Makdisi, G. (1989). Scholasticism and Humanism in Classical Islam and the Christian West. Journal of the American Oriental Society, 109 (2), 175-182.
  • Marginson, S. (2007). Global university rankings: where to from here? Asia-Pacific Association for International Education. Singapore: National University of Singapore.


  • Per the World Encyclopedia. Philip's, 2005. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.
    • “university”:   Institution of higher learning.
      • Universities grew from the studia generalia of the 12th century, which provided education for priests and monks and were attended by students from all parts of Europe. In the 11th century, Bologna became an important centre of legal studies. Other great studia generalia were founded in the mid-12th century at Paris, Oxford, and Cambridge.
    • From the latin "universitas": a corporation of students.
      • Given this, universities would be a medieval European phenomenon with the oldest university being the University of Magnaura in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey), founded in 849 by the regent Bardas of emperor Michael III.
  • All of those listed survive in some form to this day.

Comparison of University Rating Criteria

  • Cited in Marginson, 2007, pg 6, 7.

ARWU ‘Top 100’ Ratings

  • 116 Total Universities achieved ‘Top 100’ ratings Since 2003
  • Japan (6(-1) Univs) – high rank: 14
  • Netherlands (2(-1) Univs) – high rank: 39
  • Norway – high rank: 63
  • Russia – high rank: 66
  • Sweden (4 Univs) – high rank: 39
  • Switzerland (2 Univs) – high rank: 45
  • UK (10 Univs) – high rank: 2
  • US (67(-8) Univs) – high rank: 1
  • Austria – high rank: 84
  • Belgium (-1) – high rank: 90
  • Canada (3 Univs) – high rank: 90
  • Denmark (-1) – high rank: 97
  • Australia (3(-1) Univs) – high rank: 49
  • France (4(-1) Univs) – high rank: 39
  • Germany (8(-2) Univs) – high rank: 45
  • Israel – high rank: 60
  • Italy (-1) – high rank: 70
  • Bold / Italics indicates achievement of ranking 15 or better in at least one report.
  • (-X) indicates number of non-perennial ‘Top 100’ universities achieving a ‘Top 100’ ranking 3 or less times in 8 years..
  • NOTE: This is not an endorsement of ARWU Rating Standards. These data were selected because they are a non-western source of authoritative University rankings.

A Sampling of THES 2010 Rankings

Early Universities

  • University of Paris (1231)
  • The first clearly established university through Papal Bull.
  • Intended to resolve tensions between ‘church’ students and local governors.
  • Played an important part in the function of the Church, during the Great Schism – and political power use until the French Revolution.
  • Charles University (1347)
  • The first university in Central Europe -opened in 1349.
  • Modeled on Univ of Paris – Established by Papal Bull.
  • Provided privileges and immunities from the secular authorities.
  • Alma mater for: Tesla, Albert I, Einstein
  • Oxford University (~1096/1167)
  • Oldest university in the English-speaking world
  • Rapid growth when Henry II banned English students from Univ of Paris. (1167)
  • Masters were recognized as a universitas in 1231.
  • Set back by Anglican break with Catholic Church and the Reformation.
  • University of Bologna (1088)
  • Chartered by Frederick I Barbarossa in 1158
  • Notable for teaching of canon and civil law.
  • The only degree granted (until modern times) was the doctorate.
  • Alma mater for: Dante, Petrarch and Copernicus

More on Early Universities

  • University studies took six years for a Bachelor's degree and up to twelve additional years for a master's degree and doctorate.
  • The first six years were organized by the faculty of arts, where the seven liberal arts were taught: arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music theory, grammar, logic, and rhetoric. The primary emphasis was on logic.
  • Once a Bachelor of Arts degree had been conferred, the student could leave the university or pursue further studies, in one of the three other faculties – law, medicine, or theology – in which to pursue the master's degree and doctorate degree. Theology was the most prestigious area of study.
  • Courses were offered according to books, not by subject or theme. For example a course might be on a book by Aristotle, or a book from the Bible. Courses were not elective: the course offerings were set, and everyone had to take the same courses. There were, however, occasional choices as to which teacher to use.
  • Students entered the University at fourteen to fifteen years of age.
  • Most universities of international excellence in Europe were registered by the Holy Roman Empire as a Studium Generale. Members of these institutions were encouraged to disseminate their knowledge across Europe, often giving lecture courses at a different Studium Generale.
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