This is the VOA Special English Education Report.
We conclude our Foreign Student Series this week with questions from three
Thu Ya Naing from Burma wants to know how many colleges and universities are
in the United States. Alexander Romashchenko in Russia wonders which university
in the United States is the oldest. And Mohamad Firouzi in Iran would like to
know more about Harvard University.
The National Center for Education Statistics says more than 4,200 colleges
and universities award degrees. These include two-year schools as well as
The oldest institution of higher learning in the country is Harvard in
Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was established in 1636 as Harvard College.
Massachusetts was an English colony at the time.
The school was named for a Puritan religious leader. John Harvard gave the
college all his books and half his property when he died.
At first, Harvard had one teacher and nine students. Today it has almost
20,000 students. Nearly four thousand of them this past year were from outside
the United States.
There are fourteen schools at Harvard. They include Harvard College and the
Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Harvard College is the undergraduate
division of the university and Radcliffe is a former college for women.
So Harvard came first. Later, in 1780, the Massachusetts Constitution went
into effect and officially recognized Harvard as a university. Some Harvard
materials call it America's oldest university.
But the University of
Pennsylvania calls itself America's oldest university. Penn officials note that
the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania recognized their school as a university in
1779. That was one year before Harvard.
Yet the history gets a little complex. Penn considers its anniversary date to
be seventeen forty. That was when the Charity School of Philadelphia was
established, though it never opened. Benjamin Franklin later presented his ideas
for a learning institution that included the Charity School. It opened
in 1751 and became the university.
Today, more than 23,000 students attend the University of Pennsylvania. 4,000
of them come from other countries.
And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy
Steinbach. Our series about studying in the United States is online at
voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Steve Ember.