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The Ultimate list of the Oldest Universities in the UK

oldest universities in the UK

Some of the oldest universities in the UK, oldest college in Britain, oldest universities in the world are situated in the UK. The island country is renowned for its spectacular legends of kings and knights. Still, its choice of prestigious universities offers a rich historical atmosphere and stunning ancient architecture that for generations has inspired students. 

Here are the ten oldest universities ranked by their official year of foundation in the UK. 


Founded: 1872

Aberystwyth University in Aberystwyth, Wales, is a public research university. Aber comprises six academic institutes and houses the award-winning Wales Students’ Union, which provides a wide range of welfare, social and sporting facilities. In the middle of the 19th century, influential Welsh citizens promoted the establishment of a university in the Principality, and Aberystwyth University opened in the middle of the 19th century.


Founded: 1832

Durham University is a public research university that occupies approximately 227 hectares of land with the main Durham campus and a second Stockton-on-Tees campus. Its international approach welcomes around 21 per cent of students who are not from the UK. It consists of three departments: Arts and Humanities, Science and Social Sciences, and Health. 


Founded: 1826

UCL is not only renowned for its impressive campus but is the first higher degree institution founded in London with a total enrolment of the third-largest university in the UK, and it also became the first British institution in 1878 to accept women into its programmes on equal terms with men. The university is divided into 11 constituent faculties and runs important museums and maintains collections in many fields.


Founded: 1824

While Manchester University may be known for its use of colour for events, it is also known to have a non-traditional campus spread around the city of Manchester where university buildings are scattered. In 1883, it authorised women to be accepted into its services. The beginnings of the university as the first civic university in England are closely related to the growth of Manchester as the first industrial city in the world.


Founded: 1583

The University of Edinburgh introduces itself as an ancient university with many of the university’s buildings in the historic Old Town of Edinburgh. During the Age of Enlightenment, the institution helped give the city the nickname “Athens of the North” for its status as a top intellectual centre. The Edinburgh Town Council established the University of Edinburgh as a college of law. It was founded formally as a college by a Royal Charter in 1582. This is the one of the oldest university in England.


Founded: 1495

The University of Aberdeen is one of the two universities in the city of Aberdeen, and the iconic buildings of the university are symbols of wider Aberdeen. The University of Aberdeen originally began as King’s College in 1495. It was developed to cure the ‘ignorance’ encountered by the Bishop. The current University of Aberdeen is the result of a merger in 1860 between the original King’s College and the newer Marischal College. This is the oldest university in England.


Founded: 1451

The University of Glasgow is regarded as an ancient public research university that initially educated students from affluent backgrounds. By a charter from Pope Nicholas V, the college was attached to the city’s cathedral in 1451. The fundamental documents of the founding of the university are no longer to be found and were probably lost during the Scottish Reformation. This is one of the oldest universities in the UK and is now considered almost ancient.


Founded: 1410

The Old Course at St. Andrews, the most popular golf course in the world, dates back to ancient times and is still in use today. The university comprises three colleges: United College, St. Mary’s College, and St. Leonard’s College. The campus, which comprises historic and modern buildings, is spread throughout the area. The university halls are home to about half of the student body. A group of Augustinian clergy formed the university, establishing a community of higher learning in the area, offering courses in divinity, logic, philosophy, and law. 


Founded: 1209…so, what is the oldest university in the UK? The University of Cambridge is definitely one of the oldest UK university.

The University of Cambridge is most prominently a university of public science whose background and influence have made it one of the world’s most prestigious universities. The university operates numerous cultural and science museums and provides access to about 15 million books for its students. The university has established 31 constituent colleges since its foundation. About 100 libraries belong to the University of Cambridge. The women became full members of the university only after 1948. The one of the oldest universities in England is University of Cambridge which belongs to the Russell Group.

oldest universities in the UK
University of Cambridge


Founded: 1096

What is the oldest university in Britain? The University of Oxford and its enduring legacy and centuries of history are easy to come to mind when people think about the oldest university in the UK, prestigious universities in the UK. It is the UK’s oldest university, the oldest university in UK and educates a community of talented students from all over the world and locally. The university has buildings and facilities spread across the city center. As a private university, Oxford consists of 38 constituent colleges and a wide range of academic departments, further divided into four divisions. Although there is no known foundation date, it is possible to trace teaching in Oxford back to 1096. 

This guide could be beneficial if you’re planning to apply to oldest universities in the UK. If you’re looking for student accommodations, head to UniAcco.

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oldest universities in the UK

The Ultimate list of the Oldest Universities in the UK