Doubts continue to linger that William Shakespeare didn’t really write all of “his” plays, without the benefit of a university education. So which historical institutions should the real Bard of Avon have attended?
The Times Higher Education 25 Over 400 ranking lists the best ancient institutions, to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
The UK tops the list, with the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh claiming the first three places. In terms of national representatives, the UK is also joint leader in the table: both it and Germany have six universities each.
Just one university outside Europe makes the list, South Korea’s Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU), in 19th place.
Italy is absent from the table despite being home to the oldest institution in the world, the University of Bologna, which was founded in 1088.
Overall, 11 countries feature in the table.
The University of Oxford, which traces its history back to 1096, is the oldest institution to make the 25 Over 400 ranking, while the Netherlands’ University of Groningen (eighth) is the youngest, having been established in 1614.
Duncan Ross, data and analytics director at THE, said that 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”.
“Despite all the evidence that points to Shakespeare’s 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,” he said.
“Admittedly our data are the modern data from those institutions (accurate information from the 17th century is methodologically challenging), and reflect only the institutions in our current top 800 [of the THE World University Rankings 2015-16].
“Could Shakespeare really have been educated in Korea? Is Macbeth really a dramatisation of the founding of the Joseon dynasty? Or is it about Scotland after all?”
The ranking was compiled using the data collected for the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015-16, but filtered to only include those institutions that are more than 400 years old. The 25 institutions with the highest scores are included in the table below. The average age of the top 200 institutions in the 2015-16 rankings is 213 years old.
The THE Young Universities Summit will take place at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona from 5 to 7 April to discuss how disruptive young innovators in higher education can challenge the traditional elites, such as the ones listed below.
World’s 25 best universities over 400 years old
|Rank||Institution||Country||WUR 2015-2016 rank||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|
|8||University of Groningen||Netherlands||74||1614|
|9||University of Glasgow||United Kingdom||76||1451|
|10||University of Tübingen||Germany||78||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 (SKKU)||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|