The “university” is a very Eurocentric term: it is said that because there were no “corporations” in the “East”, the archetype schools of higher education did not exist there, which is, of course, not true (apart from the academies of antiquity, noteworthy is the Byzantine unversity, which was not based on “corporation” but “charity trust”). Due to this conception, European expansion could be traced in geographical space by the establishment of European learned societies, the so-called “unversities”. I’ve just discovered that the first universities outside “Europe” were founded mainly by Spanish monks in the 16th century in colonial Latin America. The oldest is in Santo Domingo, today the Dominican Republic (Universidad Santo Tomás de Aquino, 1538), which makes it the first university established in the Western hemisphere. The oldest one still in operation is in Lima, Peru (Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, 1551) and the oldest in North America is in Mexico (Real y Pontificia Universidad de México, 1551). The first university in Asia was founded in The Philippines (Universidad de Santo Tomás, 1611), but colleges were developed from 1589 on (some became universities afterwards). This was 25 years after the route accross the Pacific Ocean was discovered in 1565.
“The Royal and Pontifical University of Santo Tomas, established by the Dominican missionaries in 1611 and raised to the rank of a University in 1645 by Pope Innocent X through the petition of Philip IV of Spain, is currently the educational institution with the oldest extant University charter in Asia.”