Europe's oldest university in continuous operation is the University of Bologna, in Italy, founded in 1088.
Founded in 1088 by an organized guild of students, it is the oldest university in the world, as well as one of the leading academic institutions in Italy and Europe. It is one of the most prestigious Italian universities, commonly ranking in the first places of national, European, and international rankings both as a whole and for individual subjects.
It was the first place of study to use the term universitas for the corporations of students and masters, which came to define the institution (especially its famous law school) located in Bologna. The university's emblem carries the motto Alma mater studiorum ("Nourishing mother of studies") and the date A.D. 1088, and it has about 86,500 students in its 11 schools. It has campuses in Cesena, Forlì, Ravenna, and Rimini and a branch center abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It also has a school of excellence named Collegio Superiore di Bologna. An associate publisher of the University of Bologna is the Bononia University Press.
The University of Bologna saw the first woman earn a university degree and teach at a university, Bettisia Gozzadini, and the first woman to earn a doctorate in science and obtained a salaried position as a university professor, Laura Bassi.