The model for the modern university and college began its long evolution c.1,000 years ago in medieval Western Europe. The ‘12th-century renaissance’ saw the emergence of universities and colleges at Bologna, Paris, Oxford, and Cambridge drawing on earlier Hellenistic learning, sustained by ‘the Golden Age of Islam’ and added to during ‘the Dark Ages’ of Western Europe. ‘The enduring idea and changing ideal of the university’ explains how medieval universities were, essentially, businesses delivering concrete skills and competencies through education to fee-paying students. Distinctly utilitarian and vocational, they opened a door to professional life for their students. Now we talk of them crucially contributing to the ‘knowledge society’.