What comes to mind when you think about university studies?
Did you know that the oldest existing, and continually operating educational institution in the world is considered to be University of al-Qarawiyyin from Morocco, founded in 859? The oldest university in Europe, the University of Bologna in the current day Italy, was established in 1088. Oxford University, often ranked as the best university in the world, was established in 1096 in England. The word ‘university’ is originally derived from the Latin word universitas, ‘a whole’.
Universities and other institutions of higher education have educated the brightest minds in the world for over a thousand years. The civilized world as we know it has been created from the backbone of universities. Cataloguing, creating and analyzing information has led us to new inventions, societal movements and medical breakthroughs – all by-products of universities. This is what makes studying in universities special, the opportunity to be part of something big, part of ‘a whole’.
Since universities are part of our common cultural heritage, university and higher education degrees are internationally acknowledged and accredited. The accrediting bodies are, in most cases, the Ministries of Education in different countries. If an institution is recognised by the national authority on higher education accreditation, the university and the university degree obtained from the university are both nationally and internationally recognised. In addition, there are several other accrediting bodies that specialise, for example, in different fields of university studies.
Not all post-secondary educational programs are university degrees. Fancy sounding degrees and impressive looking diplomas do not mean anything if they are obtained from a non-accredited institution so when looking into educational opportunities, make sure you research what the institution is actually accredited for and, more importantly, who has done the accrediting.
Students with university degrees from accredited universities are able to both apply for continuing studies or certain jobs all over the world regardless of the country they graduated from. For example, a student with a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, can apply to a Master’s program in English at the University of Tokyo, Japan.
If your degree is very specific and requires an exceptionally comprehensive and detailed skill set, as in physicians or doctors’ degrees, you cannot usually either study or work in that profession in another country without a complementing degree or different exams and evaluations at the foreign country.
Universities are always in charge of both admissions and credit transfers and countries of the national standards for given professions but the rule of thumb is that you can switch universities, cities and countries after graduating with a Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s degree or a PHD.
The length of university studies depends on the degree you’re completing and can be anything from three to up to ten or more years. Universities are the only institutions that educate legitimate professionals in some specific fields, e.g., architects, engineers, doctors, lawyers, priests and teachers.
Degrees that allow more interdisciplinary studies are as crucial to society’s blueprint since, for example, politicians should be aware of e.g. the basics of economics and philosophy; national security advisers should both have a background in e.g. history and the military; and people in business and marketing should be educated in e.g. finance, international relations and psychology. Universities are completely unique as platforms that can provide you with interdisciplinary knowledge from so many various fields.