A university (Latin: universitas, 'a whole') is an institution of higher (or tertiary) education and research which awards academic degrees in various academic disciplines. Universities typically provide undergraduate education and postgraduate education.
The word university is derived from the Latin universitas magistrorum et scholarium, which roughly means "community of teachers and scholars". The modern university system has roots in the European medieval university, which was created in Italy and evolved from cathedral schools for the clergy during the High Middle Ages.
The original Latin word universitas refers in general to "a number of persons associated into one body, a society, company, community, guild, corporation, etc". At the time of the emergence of urban town life and medieval guilds, specialized "associations of students and teachers with collective legal rights usually guaranteed by charters issued by princes, prelates, or the towns in which they were located" came to be denominated by this general term. Like other guilds, they were self-regulating and determined the qualifications of their members.
In modern usage the word has come to mean "An institution of higher education offering tuition in mainly non-vocational subjects and typically having the power to confer degrees," with the earlier emphasis on its corporate organization considered as applying historically to Medieval universities.
The original Latin word referred to degree-awarding institutions of learning in Western and Central Europe, where this form of legal organisation was prevalent and from where the institution spread around the world.
An important idea in the definition of a university is the notion of academic freedom. The first documentary evidence of this comes from early in the life of the University of Bologna, which adopted an academic charter, the Constitutio Habita, in 1158 or 1155, which guaranteed the right of a traveling scholar to unhindered passage in the interests of education. Today this is claimed as the origin of "academic freedom". This is now widely recognised internationally - on 18 September 1988, 430 university rectors signed the Magna Charta Universitatum, marking the 900th anniversary of Bologna's foundation. The number of universities signing the Magna Charta Universitatum continues to grow, drawing from all parts of the world.
According to Encyclopædia Britannica, the earliest universities were founded in Asia and Africa, predating the first European medieval universities. The University of Al Quaraouiyine, founded in Morocco by Fatima al-Fihri in 859, is considered by some to be the oldest degree-granting university.The%20Oxford%20Dictionary%20of%20I]] 
Their endowment by a prince or monarch and their role in training government officials made early Mediterranean universities similar to Islamic madrasas, although madrasas were generally smaller, and individual teachers, rather than the madrasa itself, granted the license or degree. Scholars like Arnold H. Green and Hossein Nasr have argued that starting in the 10th century, some medieval Islamic madrasas became universities. However, scholars like George Makdisi, Toby Huff and Norman Daniel argue that the European university has no parallel in the medieval Islamic world. Several other scholars consider the university as uniquely European in origin and characteristics. Darleen Pryds questions this view, pointing out that madaris and European universities in the Mediterranean region shared similar foundations by princely patrons and were intended to provide loyal administrators to further the rulers' agenda.
Some scholars, including Makdisi, have argued that early medieval universities were influenced by the madrasas in Al-Andalus, the Emirate of Sicily, and the Middle East during the Crusades. Norman Daniel, however, views this argument as overstated. Roy Lowe and Yoshihito Yasuhara have recently drawn on the well-documented influences of scholarship from the Islamic world on the universities of Western Europe to call for a reconsideration of the development of higher education, turning away from a concern with local institutional structures to a broader consideration within a global context.
The university is generally regarded as a formal institution that has its origin in the Medieval Christian tradition. European higher education took place for hundreds of years in cathedral schools or monastic schools (scholae monasticae), in which monks and nuns taught classes; evidence of these immediate forerunners of the later university at many places dates back to the 6th century. The earliest universities were developed under the aegis of the Latin Church by papal bull as studia generalia and perhaps from cathedral schools. It is possible, however, that the development of cathedral schools into universities was quite rare, with the University of Paris being an exception. Later they were also founded by Kings (University of Naples Federico II, Charles University in Prague, Jagiellonian University in Kraków) or municipal administrations (University of Cologne, University of Erfurt). In the early medieval period, most new universities were founded from pre-existing schools, usually when these schools were deemed to have become primarily sites of higher education. Many historians state that universities and cathedral schools were a continuation of the interest in learning promoted by The residence of a religious community. Pope Gregory VII was critical in promoting and regulating the concept of modern university as his 1079 Papal Decree ordered the regulated establishment of cathedral schools that transformed themselves into the first European universities.
The first universities in Europe with a form of corporate/guild structure were the University of Bologna (1088), the University of Paris (c.1150, later associated with the Sorbonne), and the University of Oxford (1167).
The University of Bologna began as a law school teaching the ius gentium or Roman law of peoples which was in demand across Europe for those defending the right of incipient nations against empire and church. Bologna's special claim to Alma Mater Studiorum is based on its autonomy, its awarding of degrees, and other structural arrangements, making it the oldest continuously operating institution independent of kings, emperors or any kind of direct religious authority.
The conventional date of 1088, or 1087 according to some, records when Irnerius commences teaching Emperor Justinian's 6th century codification of Roman law, the Corpus Iuris Civilis, recently discovered at Pisa. Lay students arrived in the city from many lands entering into a contract to gain this knowledge, organising themselves into 'Nationes', divided between that of the Cismontanes and that of the Ultramontanes. The students "had all the power … and dominated the masters".
In Europe, young men proceeded to university when they had completed their study of the trivium–the preparatory arts of grammar, rhetoric and dialectic or logic–and the quadrivium: arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy.
All over Europe rulers and city governments began to create universities to satisfy a European thirst for knowledge, and the belief that society would benefit from the scholarly expertise generated from these institutions.
The rediscovery of Aristotle's works–more than 3000 pages of it would eventually be translated–fuelled a spirit of inquiry into natural processes that had already begun to emerge in the 12th century. Some scholars believe that these works represented one of the most important document discoveries in Western intellectual history. Richard Dales, for instance, calls the discovery of Aristotle's works "a turning point in the history of Western thought." After Aristotle re-emerged, a community of scholars, primarily communicating in Latin, accelerated the process and practice of attempting to reconcile the thoughts of Greek antiquity, and especially ideas related to understanding the natural world, with those of the church. The efforts of this "scholasticism" were focused on applying Aristotelian logic and thoughts about natural processes to biblical passages and attempting to prove the viability of those passages through reason. This became the primary mission of lecturers, and the expectation of students.
The university culture developed differently in northern Europe than it did in the south, although the northern (primarily Germany, France and Great Britain) and southern universities (primarily Italy) did have many elements in common. Latin was the language of the university, used for all texts, lectures, disputations and examinations. Professors lectured on the books of Aristotle for logic, natural philosophy, and metaphysics; while Hippocrates, Galen, and Avicenna were used for medicine. Outside of these commonalities, great differences separated north and south, primarily in subject matter. Italian universities focused on law and medicine, while the northern universities focused on the arts and theology. There were distinct differences in the quality of instruction in these areas which were congruent with their focus, so scholars would travel north or south based on their interests and means. There was also a difference in the types of degrees awarded at these universities. English, French and German universities usually awarded bachelor's degrees, with the exception of degrees in theology, for which the doctorate was more common. Italian universities awarded primarily doctorates. The distinction can be attributed to the intent of the degree holder after graduation – in the north the focus tended to be on acquiring teaching positions, while in the south students often went on to professional positions. The structure of northern universities tended to be modeled after the system of faculty governance developed at the University of Paris. Southern universities tended to be patterned after the student-controlled model begun at the University of Bologna. Among the southern universities, a further distinction has been noted between those of northern Italy, which followed the pattern of Bologna as a "self-regulating, independent corporation of scholars" and those of southern Italy and Iberia, which were "founded by royal and imperial charter to serve the needs of government."
During the Early Modern period (approximately late 15th century to 1800), the universities of Europe would see a tremendous amount of growth, productivity and innovative research. At the end of the Middle Ages, about 400 years after the first European university was founded, there were twenty-nine universities spread throughout Europe. In the 15th century, twenty-eight new ones were created, with another eighteen added between 1500 and 1625. This pace continued until by the end of the 18th century there were approximately 143 universities in Europe, with the highest concentrations in the German Empire (34), Italian countries (26), France (25), and Spain (23) – this was close to a 500% increase over the number of universities toward the end of the Middle Ages. This number does not include the numerous universities that disappeared, or institutions that merged with other universities during this time. The identification of a university was not necessarily obvious during the Early Modern period, as the term is applied to a burgeoning number of institutions. In fact, the term "university" was not always used to designate a higher education institution. In Mediterranean countries, the term studium generale was still often used, while "Academy" was common in Northern European countries.
The propagation of universities was not necessarily a steady progression, as the 17th century was rife with events that adversely affected university expansion.
Although the structural model provided by the University of Paris, where student members are controlled by faculty "masters", provided a standard for universities, the application of this model took at least three different forms.
Early Modern universities initially continued the curriculum and research of the Middle Ages: natural philosophy, logic, medicine, theology, mathematics, astronomy, astrology, law, grammar and rhetoric. Aristotle was prevalent throughout the curriculum, while medicine also depended on Galen and Arabic scholarship. The importance of humanism for changing this state-of-affairs cannot be underestimated. Once humanist professors joined the university faculty, they began to transform the study of grammar and rhetoric through the studia humanitatis. Humanist professors focused on the ability of students to write and speak with distinction, to translate and interpret classical texts, and to live honorable lives. Other scholars within the university were affected by the humanist approaches to learning and their linguistic expertise in relation to ancient texts, as well as the ideology that advocated the ultimate importance of those texts. Professors of medicine such as Niccolò Leoniceno, Thomas Linacre and William Cop were often trained in and taught from a humanist perspective as well as translated important ancient medical texts. The critical mindset imparted by humanism was imperative for changes in universities and scholarship. For instance, Andreas Vesalius was educated in a humanist fashion before producing a translation of Galen, whose ideas he verified through his own dissections. In law, Andreas Alciatus infused the Corpus Juris with a humanist perspective, while Jacques Cujas humanist writings were paramount to his reputation as a jurist. Philipp Melanchthon cited the works of Erasmus as a highly influential guide for connecting theology back to original texts, which was important for the reform at Protestant universities. Galileo Galilei, who taught at the Universities of Pisa and Padua, and Martin Luther, who taught at the University of Wittenberg (as did Melanchthon), also had humanist training. The task of the humanists was to slowly permeate the university; to increase the humanist presence in professorships and chairs, syllabi and textbooks so that published works would demonstrate the humanistic ideal of science and scholarship.
Although the initial focus of the humanist scholars in the university was the discovery, exposition and insertion of ancient texts and languages into the university, and the ideas of those texts into society generally, their influence was ultimately quite progressive.
Examining the influence of humanism on scholars in medicine, mathematics, astronomy and physics may suggest that humanism and universities were a strong impetus for the scientific revolution.
Other historians find incongruity in the proposition that the very place where the vast number of the scholars that influenced the scientific revolution received their education should also be the place that inhibits their research and the advancement of science.
Regardless of the way the tension between universities, individual scientists, and the scientific revolution itself is perceived, there was a discernible impact on the way that university education was constructed.
The epistemological tensions between scientists and universities were also heightened by the economic realities of research during this time, as individual scientists, associations and universities were vying for limited resources.
By the end of the early modern period, the structure and orientation of higher education had changed in ways that are eminently recognizable for the modern context.
By the 18th century, universities published their own research journals and by the 19th century, the German and the French university models had arisen. The German, or Humboldtian model, was conceived by Wilhelm von Humboldt and based on Friedrich Schleiermacher's liberal ideas pertaining to the importance of freedom, seminars, and laboratories in universities. The French university model involved strict discipline and control over every aspect of the university.
Until the 19th century, religion played a significant role in university curriculum; however, the role of religion in research universities decreased in the 19th century, and by the end of the 19th century, the German university model had spread around the world. Universities concentrated on science in the 19th and 20th centuries and became increasingly accessible to the masses. In the United States, the Johns Hopkins University was the first to adopt the (German) research university model; this pioneered the adoption by most other American universities. In Britain, the move from Industrial Revolution to modernity saw the arrival of new civic universities with an emphasis on science and engineering, a movement initiated in 1960 by Sir Keith Murray (chairman of the University Grants Committee) and Sir Samuel Curran, with the formation of the University of Strathclyde. The British also established universities worldwide, and higher education became available to the masses not only in Europe.
In 1963, the Robbins Report on universities in the United Kingdom concluded that such institutions should have four main "objectives essential to any properly balanced system: instruction in skills; the promotion of the general powers of the mind so as to produce not mere specialists but rather cultivated men and women; to maintain research in balance with teaching, since teaching should not be separated from the advancement of learning and the search for truth; and to transmit a common culture and common standards of citizenship."
In the early 21st century, concerns were raised over the increasing managerialisation and standardisation of universities worldwide.
A national university is generally a university created or run by a national state but at the same time represents a state autonomic institution which functions as a completely independent body inside of the same state. Some national universities are closely associated with national cultural, religious or political aspirations, for instance the National University of Ireland, which formed partly from the Catholic University of Ireland which was created almost immediately and specifically in answer to the non-denominational universities which had been set up in Ireland in 1850. In the years leading up to the Easter Rising, and in no small part a result of the Gaelic Romantic revivalists, the NUI collected a large amount of information on the Irish language and Irish culture. Reforms in Argentina were the result of the University Revolution of 1918 and its posterior reforms by incorporating values that sought for a more equal and laic higher education system.
Universities created by bilateral or multilateral treaties between states are intergovernmental. An example is the Academy of European Law, which offers training in European law to lawyers, judges, barristers, solicitors, in-house counsel and academics. EUCLID (Pôle Universitaire Euclide, Euclid University) is chartered as a university and umbrella organisation dedicated to sustainable development in signatory countries, and the United Nations University engages in efforts to resolve the pressing global problems that are of concern to the United Nations, its peoples and member states. The European University Institute, a post-graduate university specialised in the social sciences, is officially an intergovernmental organisation, set up by the member states of the European Union.
Although each institution is organized differently, nearly all universities have a board of trustees; a president, chancellor, or rector; at least one vice president, vice-chancellor, or vice-rector; and deans of various divisions. Universities are generally divided into a number of academic departments, schools or faculties. Public university systems are ruled over by government-run higher education boards. They review financial requests and budget proposals and then allocate funds for each university in the system. They also approve new programs of instruction and cancel or make changes in existing programs. In addition, they plan for the further coordinated growth and development of the various institutions of higher education in the state or country. However, many public universities in the world have a considerable degree of financial, research and pedagogical autonomy. Private universities are privately funded and generally have broader independence from state policies. However, they may have less independence from business corporations depending on the source of their finances.
Around the world
The funding and organization of universities varies widely between different countries around the world.
The definition of a university varies widely, even within some countries.
In Australia, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) is Australia's independent national regulator of the higher education sector. Students rights within university are also protected by the Education Services for Overseas Students Act (ESOS).
In the United States there is no nationally standardized definition for the term university, although the term has traditionally been used to designate research institutions and was once reserved for doctorate-granting research institutions. Some states, such as Massachusetts, will only grant a school "university status" if it grants at least two doctoral degrees.
In India, a new designation deemed universities has been created for institutions of higher education that are not universities, but work at a very high standard in a specific area of study ("An Institution of Higher Education, other than universities, working at a very high standard in specific area of study, can be declared by the Central Government on the advice of the University Grants Commission as an Institution 'Deemed-to-be-university'"). Institutions that are 'deemed-to-be-university' enjoy the academic status and the privileges of a university. Through this provision many schools that are commercial in nature and have been established just to exploit the demand for higher education have sprung up.
In Canada, college generally refers to a two-year, non-degree-granting institution, while university connotes a four-year, degree-granting institution. Universities may be sub-classified (as in the Macleans rankings) into large research universities with many PhD-granting programs and medical schools (for example, McGill University); "comprehensive" universities that have some PhDs but are not geared toward research (such as Waterloo); and smaller, primarily undergraduate universities (such as St. Francis Xavier).
In Germany, universities are institutions of higher education which have the power to confer bachelor, master and PhD degrees.
Colloquially, the term university may be used to describe a phase in one's life: "When I was at university..." (in the United States and Ireland, college is often used instead: "When I was in college..."). In Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom, Nigeria, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and the German-speaking countries, university is often contracted to uni*. In Ghana, New Zealand, Bangladesh and in South Africa it is sometimes called "varsity" (although this has become uncommon in New Zealand in recent years). "Varsity" was also common usage in the UK in the 19th century. "Varsity" is still in common usage in Scotland.
In many countries, students are required to pay tuition fees.
There are several major exceptions on tuition fees.
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