From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education. The word university is derived from the Latin universitas magistrorum et scholarium, roughly meaning "community of teachers and scholars." 
 Early history
The original Latin word "universitas" was used at the time of emergence of urban town life and medieval guilds, to describe 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." Although the original Latin word referred to places of learning in Europe, where this form of legal organization was prevalent, it is sometimes extended to other educational institutions of non-Western antiquity, including China, India and Persia:
- Taehak was founded in 372 and Gukhak was established in 682.
- Academy of Gundishapur was an important medical centre of the 6th and 7th centuries AD.
- Ashikaga Gakko was founded in 9th century and restored in 1432.
The University of Constantinople, founded as an institution of higher learning in 425 and reorganized as a corporation of students in 849 by the regent Bardas of emperor Michael III, is considered by some to be the earliest institution of higher learning with some of the characteristics we associate today with a university (research and teaching, auto-administration, academic independence, et cetera). If a university is defined as "an institution of higher learning" then it is preceded by several others, including the Academy that it was founded to compete with and eventually replaced. If the original meaning of the word is considered "a corporation of students" then this could be the first example of such an institution.
If the definition of a university is assumed to mean an institution of higher education and research which issues academic degrees at all levels (bachelor, master and doctorate) like in the modern sense of the word, the medieval Madrasahs were also known as Jami'ah and founded in the 9th century. They would be the first examples of such an institution. The University of Al Karaouine in Fez, Morocco is thus recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest degree-granting university in the world with its founding in 859 by Fatima al-Fihri. Also in the 9th century, Bimaristan medical schools were founded in the medieval Islamic world, where medical degrees and diplomas were issued to students of Islamic medicine who were qualified to be a practicing Doctor of Medicine. Al-Azhar University, founded in Cairo, Egypt in 975, was a Jami'ah university which offered a variety of post-graduate degrees (Ijazah), and had individual faculties for a theological seminary, Islamic law and jurisprudence, Arabic grammar, Islamic astronomy, early Islamic philosophy, and logic in Islamic philosophy.
 Medieval universities
The first higher education institution in medieval Europe was the University of Constantinople, followed by the University of Salerno (9th century), the Preslav Literary School and Ohrid Literary School in the Bulgarian Empire (9th century). The first degree-granting universities in Europe were the University of Bologna (1088), the University of Paris (c. 1150, later associated with the Sorbonne), the University of Oxford (1167), the University of Cambridge (1209), the University of Salamanca (1218), the University of Montpellier (1220), the University of Padua (1222), the University of Naples Federico II (1224),the University of Toulouse (1229). Some scholars such as George Makdisi, John Makdisi and Hugh Goddard argue that these medieval universities were influenced in many ways by the medieval Madrasah institutions in Islamic Spain, the Emirate of Sicily, and the Middle East (during the Crusades).
The earliest universities in Western Europe were developed under the aegis of the Catholic Church, usually as cathedral schools or by papal bull as Studia Generali (NB: The development of cathedral schools into Universities actually appears to be quite rare, with the University of Paris being an exception — see Leff, Paris and Oxford Universities), later they were also founded by Kings (Charles University in Prague, Jagiellonian University in Krakow) 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 monasteries.
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. (See Degrees of the University of Oxford for the history of how the trivium and quadrivium developed in relation to degrees, especially in anglophone universities).
Outside of Europe, there were many notable institutions of learning throughout history. In China, there was the famous Hanlin Academy, established during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), and was once headed by the Chancellor Shen Kuo (1031-1095), a famous Chinese scientist, inventor, mathematician, and statesman.
 Modern universities
The end of the medieval period marked the beginning of the transformation of universities that would eventually result in the modern research university. Many external influences, such as eras of humanism, Enlightenment, Reformation, and Revolution, shaped research universities during their development.
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 Britain the move from industrial revolution to modernity saw the arrival of new civic universities with an emphasis on science and engineering. The British also established universities worldwide, and higher education became available to the masses not only in Europe. In a general sense, the basic structure and aims of universities have remained constant over the years.
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 a broader independence from state policies.
Despite the variable policies, or cultural and economic standards available in different geographical locations create a tremendous disparity between universities around the world and even inside a country, the universities are usually among the foremost research and advanced training providers in every society. Most universities not only offer courses in subjects ranging from the natural sciences, engineering, architecture or medicine, to sports sciences, social sciences, law or humanities, they also offer many amenities to their student population including a variety of places to eat, banks, bookshops, print shops, job centers, and bars. In addition, universities have a range of facilities like libraries, sports centers, students' unions, computer labs, and research laboratories. In a number of countries, major classic universities usually have their own botanical gardens, astronomical observatories, business incubators and university hospitals.
 Universities around the world
The funding and organization of universities varies widely between different countries around the world. In some countries universities are predominantly funded by the state, while in others funding may come from donors or from fees which students attending the university must pay. In some countries the vast majority of students attend university in their local town, while in other countries universities attract students from all over the world, and may provide university accommodation for their students.
The definition of a university varies widely even with some countries. For example, there is no nationally standardized definition of the term in the United States although the term has traditionally been used to designate research institutions and was once reserved for research doctorate-granting institutions. Many teaching institutions and primarily undergraduate-degree-granting institutions outside the Northeastern United States are called universities, while some states, such as Massachusetts, will only grant a school "university status" if it grants at least two doctoral degrees. In the United Kingdom, an institution can only use the term if it has been granted by the Privy Council, under the terms of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992.
 Colloquial usage
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 used instead: "when I was in college..."). See the college article for further discussion. In Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the German-speaking countries "university" is often contracted to "uni". In New Zealand and in South Africa it is sometimes called "varsity" (although this has become uncommon in New Zealand in recent years), which was also common usage in the UK in the 19th century.
|The examples and perspective in this section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. Please improve this article and discuss the issue on the talk page.|
Richard Vedder, an Ohio University professor and member of the Commission on the Future of Higher Education, has been a vocal critic of how institutions of higher education, including the universities, are financed. In his 2004 book, "Going Broke by Degree," Vedder says that tuition increases have rapidly outpaced inflation; that productivity in higher education has fallen or remained stagnant; and that third-party tuition payments from government or private sources have insulated students from bearing the full cost of their education, allowing costs to rise more rapidly.