The word “college” originally meant any society or union of persons engaged in common activity. For example, then is a college of cardinals which elects the pope at Rome, and the United States has an electoral college to choose the president and vice president.
In medieval times, any corporation or society organized for a common interest was called a “university”. So the earliest educational universities were societies of scholars or teachers formed for mutual protection. There were no permanent buildings. Instructors and students simply rented a hall or a large room. In time, these institutions grew, buildings were built, certain legal rights and privileges were obtained, and the universities became permanent.
The first such university was in Salemo, Italy. As far back as the ninth century it was well known as a school of medicine. It was formally made a university in 1231.Toward the end of the twelfth century at Bologna, Italy, a many- sided university was established. The school at Bologna taught law, medicine, arts, and theology.
The most famous of the medieval schools of higher learning was the University of Paris, oificially organized in the last half of the twclfth century. It became a model for all the later universities of Europe.
Our two oldest English universities were modelled upon the Univer- sity of Paris. Oxford and Cambridge were both legally recognized by the thirteenth century. A univerRity, remember, usually inclifdes a number of colleges. This means that degrees are given in many different fields at a university.
Many institutions start as colleges and later become universities. In the United States, the first college was Harvard, founded at Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1636. Today it is a great university.
When was the first university created?
The first true university in the West was founded at Bologna late in the 11th century.