A university is a higher learning institution. The word university comes from the Latin universitas magistrorum et scholarium, roughly meaning "community of teachers and scholars".  Students can go to university to get an academic degree. Unlike the schooling they have done before, the courses at university are specialised. A person studying biology at university has many courses about biology and fewer courses in other fields such as languages or history. To get a higher degree, people must do some research.
Not all subjects are offered at universities. Mainly, universities offer courses which are about knowledge. They usually do not offer courses in practical trades. In some cases such as law, where there are both knowledge and practical issues, the university does mainly the theoretical side of the subject. Practical qualifications are done elsewhere.
At first, the universities had formed themselves according to the model of the professional groups and like almost everything in the Middle Ages, they remained tied to the Catholic Church. At the beginning, they had worked to teach the so-called "seven liberal arts" (the trivium and the quadrivium):
That earliest division caused the present divisions between literary and scientific fields. From one point of view, the world's oldest university is Qarawiyyin university. However, teaching religion is not the definition used by most people. A university should in theory teach every subject.
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). There, monks and nuns taught classes: evidence of these dates back to the 6th century.
The Universities of Paris and Oxford were founded by members of the church. Later universities were founded by kings.
In the early medieval period, most new universities were founded from pre-existing schools, usually when these schools became mainly sites of higher education. Pope Gregory VII promoted the concept of modern university as his 1079 Papal Decree. He ordered the establishment of cathedral schools, which eventually turned into the first European universities.
A university can include several campuses or different places where classes are taught by professors. In each campus there are several faculties and university schools (mainly for teaching), and also laboratories, departments and institutes of research. Many campuses also have housing for students in buildings called dormitories and structures like libraries, study rooms and gymnasiums for students that live there. Each school offers many courses that students take to earn a degree. The person with the highest right to control and to command in a university is the rector, who governs the university with the help of the party of vice-rectors and of other organs such as the social council and the governing body.
- The Australian National University
- University of Melbourne
- Deakin University
- University of New South Wales
- Carleton University
- McGill University
- McMaster University
- Queen's University
- University of British Columbia
- University of New Brunswick
- University of Ottawa
- University of Toronto
- University of Waterloo
- University of Western Ontario
- University of Chile (Universidad de Chile)
- Catholic University of Chile (Universidad Católica de Chile)
- Metropolitan Technologic University (Universidad Tecnológica Metropolitana)
- Åbo Akademi University
- Aalto University
- University of Helsinki
- University of Malaya
- Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman
- UNAM, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. The biggest and most important university in Mexico and Latin America
- UdG, University of Guadalajara.It is the second oldest university in Mexico, regarded as one of the most significant universities in Mexico.
- IPN, Instituto Politécnico Nacional
- ITESM, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey
- ITAM, Instituto Tecnoloógico Autónomo de México
- Delft University of Technology
- Eindhoven University of Technology
- Erasmus University Rotterdam
- Free University Amsterdam
- Leiden University
- Maastricht University
- Nyenrode Business University
- Open University of the Netherlands
- Radboud University Nijmegen
- Tilburg University
- University of Amsterdam
- University of Groningen
- University of Twente
- Utrecht University
- Wageningen University & Research
- University of Warsaw
- Jagiellonian University
- Naval Academy "Mircea cel Batran" (ANMB)
- Chalmers University
- Karolinska Institute
- Lund University
- Royal Institute of Technology
- Stockholm School of Economics
- Uppsala University
- Umeå University
- University of Aberdeen
- Aston University
- University of Birmingham
- University of Bristol
- Queens University, Belfast
- University of Cambridge
- Coventry University
- University of Dundee
- Durham University
- University of Edinburgh
- University of Exeter
- University of Glasgow
- University of Leeds
- University of London
- King's College London
- University College London
- University of Manchester
- Open University
- University of Oxford
- University of St Andrews
- University of Wales
There is a group of famous universities called the Ivy League. They are:
- Harvard University
- Princeton University
- Yale University
- Brown University
- Cornell University
- Dartmouth College
- Columbia University
- University of Pennsylvania
Some other famous universities are:
- Chisholm, Hugh (1911). Encyclopaedia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information. Encyclopaedia britannica Company. p. 748.
- Janin, Hunt (2008). The University in Medieval Life, 1179-1499. McFarland. p. 55. ISBN 978-0-7864-3462-6.
- Ridder-Symoens, Hilde de (2003). A History of the University in Europe: Volume 1, Universities in the Middle Ages. Cambridge University Press. pp. 47–55. ISBN 978-0-521-54113-8.
- Gaston, Paul L. (2010). The Challenge of Bologna. Stylus Publishing Llc. p. 18. ISBN 978-1-57922-366-3.
- Rüegg, Walter: "Foreword. The University as a European Institution", in: A History of the University in Europe. Vol. 1: Universities in the Middle Ages, Cambridge University Press, 1992, ISBN 0-521-36105-2, pp. XIX–XX
- Verger, Jacques. “The Universities and Scholasticism,” in The New Cambridge Medieval History: Volume V c. 1198–c. 1300. Cambridge University Press, 2007, 257.
- Riché, Pierre 1978: Education and culture in the barbarian West: From the sixth through the eighth century. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 0-87249-376-8, pp. 126-7, 282-98
- Gordon Leff 1968. Paris and Oxford Universities in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries: an institutional and intellectual history. Wiley, 1968.
- Johnson P. 2000. The Renaissance: a short history. New York: Modern Library, p9.
- Thomas Oestreich 1913. Pope St. Gregory VII. In Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.