This is a list of the oldest extant universities in the world. To be included in this table, an educational institution must satisfy a traditional definition of university at the time of its founding. Chronologically it must have been founded before 1500 in Europe or be the oldest university derived from the medieval European model in a region. It must also be still in operation, with institutional continuity retained throughout its history, and so some early universities, most notably the University of Paris (which was suspended from 1793-1896) are excluded.
The word university is derived from the Latin: universitas magistrorum et scholarium, roughly meaning "community of teachers and scholars". The term was coined by the Italian University of Bologna, which, with a traditional founding date of 1088, is considered the first university. The origin of many medieval universities can be traced to the Christian cathedral schools or monastic schools which appear as early as the 6th century and were run for hundreds of years as such before their formal establishment as university in the high medieval period.
Other institutions of higher learning, like those of ancient Greece, ancient Persia, ancient Rome, Byzantium, ancient China, ancient India and the Muslim world, are not included in this list due to their cultural, historical and structural dissimilarities from the medieval European university from which the modern university evolved.