The Origins and Features of the University System in the Middle Ages

During the 12th century a cultural revival or a renaissance was going on, because of this the university system began to develop further and further, eventually getting to how the modern university system is today. But what were the origins and features of the university system in the middle ages?

The origins of the university system in the middle ages is rather uncertain, but we do know that they grew out of the Cathedral schools which were founded by Charlemagne. The early major universities were: Oxford, Cambridge, Paris, and Bologna. The university of Paris was known for theology and the university of Bologna was known for law. All of those four universities still exist today. These early universities awarded degrees, had fixed programs of study, and also had a distinction between undergraduate and graduate learning. Anyone who graduated from the universities: Oxford, Cambridge, Paris, or Bologna could teach anywhere in Europe.

The university system of the middle ages is rather different compared to the university system now. For example the students had a lot more control than students do now, because they were able to hire or even fire teachers. Also the professors taught the students indirectly, which encouraged the students to think on their own and to come up with their own conclusions.

These universities had large influence from the Church and the Pope. For example the Church protected universities, and the Pope protected the independence of universities and helped get professor salaries paid. Usually the universities were in towns, and the townsfolk and university students did not really get along, even to the point that it got violent, hence why the protection from the Church was needed. Also the students had the right to have access to ecclesiastical courts.

Today universities are an important part of the education system, and many people have gone to university for higher learning. So it is rather interesting to learn about how in the past people got a higher education, for example in the middle ages; and to also see how the university system has developed since that time.

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