As Cambridge celebrates 800 years of progress, which together with Oxford is the only University which is ranked in single digits!
Year, University, Ranking(08) Country
1088 Bologna 192 = Italy
1096 Oxford 4 UK
1175 Modena 501+ Italy
1200 Sorbonne (Paris IV) 239= France
1209 Cambridge 3 UK
1218 Salamanca 401-500 Spain
1220 Montpellier III 501+ France
1222 Padua 296= Italy
1224 Naples – Frederico II 398= Italy
1229 Toulouse I 501+ France
1229 Toulouse II 501+ France
1240 Siena 401-500 Italy
1258 Paris I (Pantheon Sorbonne) 288 France
1272 Murcia 501+ Spain
1290 Coimbra 387= Portugal
1293 Madrid 306 Spain
Source: Times Higher Education List of the World’s Oldest Universities that are among the top ranking Institutions
How have these two medieval Institutions risen to the top to compete with modern Universities in the USA, which is where the bulk of the very top Universities are found?
Is it that they have secured more money, that they control publications, that English has become the dominant language or because they are secular in their research and inquiry?
For me the interesting fact is that it is only Oxford and Cambridge among the medieval institutions, selected for being among the oldest, that have a provision of entrepreneurship education for their undergrads and postgraduates. They both happen to be in the UK which has embraced commercialisation and skills for employability as strong values for their Universities - so they get funded to provide this.
The long term question may be about whether such education and the adoption of new values (entrepreneurship) will deflect from excellence or continue to enhance it. If you take the top Institutions around the world - they are all surrounded by technology entrepreneurship clusters. Hmm, raises a lot of questions!