A university is an institution of higher education and of research, which grants academic degrees. A university provides both tertiary and quaternary education.
Arguably the first university was the Academy founded in 387BC by the Greek philosopher Plato in the grove of Academos near Athens, where students were taught philosophy, mathematics and gymnastics.
The first European Medieval universities were established in Italy and France in the Middle Ages for the study of law, medicine, and theology. Before that, similar institutions already existed in the Islamic world, notably in Cairo. The most important Asian university was Nalanda, in Bihar, India, where the second century Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna was based.
In Europe young men proceeded to the university when they had completed the study of the trivium: the preparatory arts of grammar, rhetoric, and logic and the quadrivium: arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy.
In the United Kingdom, a University is instituted by Royal Charter and only institutions with such a charter can award degrees of any kind.
In the last decades of the 20th century, a number of Mega Universities have been created, teaching with distance learning techniques.
See also: List of oldest universities in continuous operation
See also: List of colleges and universities, School and university in literature
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