Universities – The best of the world's oldest

To mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, Times Higher Education (THE) has compiled a list of the world's top 25 universities more than 400 years old.

Edinburgh University
Using latest data from its 2015-16 survey of best performing universities worldwide - and excluding 'newcomers' less than four centuries old - the survey has Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh in its top three places in a league table that contains only one institution from outside Europe: Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) in South Korea, in 19th place.Universities in the UK and Germany dominate the list, with six entrants each. Overall, 11 countries feature in the table although Italy is a notable absentee despite being home to the oldest institution in the world, the University of Bologna, which was founded in 1088.The University of Oxford, which traces its history back to 1096, is the oldest university to make the '25 Over 400' table, while the Netherlands' University of Groningen is the youngest, having been established in 1614 and which comes in at 8th place.Duncan Ross, data and analytics director at THE, said the list shows "the origin of our modern university systems as they move away from the religious training institutions they were, into something that was starting to become more recognisable".He added, "Despite all the evidence that points to Shakespeare being from the English Midlands, the conspiracy theories around who he might have been refuse to die away. So we thought it would be fun to look at the universities that a more educated Shakespeare might have attended."Admittedly our data is the modern data from those institutions – accurate data from the 17th century is methodologically challenging - and reflects only the institutions in our current top 800 (of the THE World University Rankings 2015-16)."The average age of the top 200 institutions in this year's THE World University Rankings is 213 years old.William Shakespeare, incidentally, never did attend university.World's 25 best universities more than 400 years old (institution, country, THE World University Rankings 2015-16 position, foundation year):
  1. University of Oxford, United Kingdom, 2, 1096
  2. University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, 4, 1209
  3. University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom, 24, 1583
  4. LMU Munich, Germany, 29, 1472
  5. KU Leuven, Belgium, 35, 1425
  6. Heidelberg University, Germany, 37, 1386
  7. Leiden University, Netherlands, 67, 1575
  8. University of Groningen, Netherlands, 74, 1614
  9. University of Glasgow, United Kingdom, 76, 1451
  10. University of Tübingen, Germany, 78, 1477
  11. Uppsala University, Sweden, 81, 1477
  12. University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 82, 1479
  13. University of Freiburg, Germany, 84, 1457
  14. University of St Andrews, United Kingdom, 86, 1413
  15. University of Basel, Switzerland, 101, 1460
  16. University of Geneva, Switzerland, 131, 1559
  17. University of Vienna, Austria, 142, 1365
  18. University of Lausanne, Switzerland, 144, 1537
  19. Sungkyunkwan University, South Korea, 153, 1398
  20. University of Cologne, Germany, 156, 1388
  21. Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, 160, 1592
  22. Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium, 167, 1425
  23. University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom, 172, 1495
  24. University of Barcelona, Spain, 174, 1450
  25. University of Würzburg, Germany, 185, 1402
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