The University of Pavia is one of the oldest universities in Europe. An edict issued by King Lotharius quotes a higher education institution in Pavia as already established in 825. This institution, mainly devoted to law studies, was then chosen as the main education centre for northern Italy. Enlarged and renovated by the Duke of Milan, Gian Galeazzo Visconti, it became the University of the Duchy, officially established as a Studium Generale by Emperor Charles IV in 1361.
The University of Pavia enjoys a strong tradition of international student and teacher exchanges: bilateral agreements involve, among others, the historical universities of Coimbra, and many universities in Europe, the Middle East, the Mediterranean area, the United States of America, China, Japan and many other countries. The University of Pavia is in a way unique not only because of its prestigious historical origins and top quality achievements, but also due to its leading and promoting role in the so-called “Pavia System”, characterized by 20 colleges and residences where thousands of students can live, study and play sports. The oldest residences, named Collegio Borromeo and Collegio Ghislieri, were built in the 16th century; more recently other colleges for male and female students were founded through both public and private initiatives.