he University of Padua was founded in 1222 as a school of law and was one of the most prominent universities in early modern Europe. Padua is the second-oldest university in Italy and the world's fifth-oldest surviving university. The University of Padua is one of Italy’s leading universities and ranks in the first position in all the recent ranking of Italian large universities. In 2010 the university had approximately 65,000 students and in 2016 was ranked "best university" among Italian institutions of higher education with more than 40,000 students.
The university is conventionally said to have been founded in 1222 (which corresponds to the first time when the University is cited in a historical document as pre-existing, therefore it is quite certainly older) when a large group of students and professors left the University of Bologna in search of more academic freedom ('Libertas scholastica'). The first subjects to be taught were law and theology. The curriculum expanded rapidly, and by 1399 the institution had divided in two: a Universitas Iuristarum for civil law and Canon law, and a Universitas Artistarum which taught astronomy, dialectic, philosophy, grammar, medicine, and rhetoric. There was also a Universitas Theologorum, established in 1373 by Urban V.