Via Daily Caller:
In one of his much-hyped interviews with YouTube stars on Thursday, President Barack Obama declared that politicians created colleges and universities through big-government legislation.
“The truth of the matter is: The reason we even have colleges is that at some point there were politicians who said, ‘You know what? We should start colleges,’” Obama suggested to interviewer Bethany Mota.
“Well, basically, politics is just how do we organize ourselves as a society? Ummm, you know, how do we make decisions about we are going to live together?” the wearied-looking U.S. President also instructed his bubbly YouTube interlocutor.
However, Obama’s assessment about the history of colleges isn’t quite accurate. Like any complex institution, the various colleges and universities in advanced Western countries evolved into being through a slow, gradual process largely outside the sphere of government.
The world’s oldest college that has been in continuous existence is the University of Bologna. It was founded in 1088. It arose not out of government at all but through civil society — specifically mutual aid societies of foreign students who hired private scholars to teach them. About 80 years later, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa granted a charter to the by-then established institution.