AbstractThe university is an academic institution that has come undone. It began in the Middle Ages as a scholastic guild or a learned corporation of masters and scholars (universitas societas magistrorum discipulorumque) which followed a relatively set curriculum and granted the license to teach (licentia docendi). Students came from many nations to hear well-known masters, and actively participated in disputations. Once they had settled in the cities, they often found it necessary to band together against unruly townspeople, unscrupulous booksellers, and unfortunate teachers. Masters united to form separate Faculties with their own academic requirements and prerogatives, with occasional public squabbles over who was supposed to teach what to whom. Civic and religious authorities soon realized the advantages of having an institutional supplier of doctors, lawyers, educated clergy and merchants, and extended their support (and at times their control) to the new universities. Somehow a balance of power was struck between opposing factions; and students, faculty, and the outside community benefited from the growth of the universities in size and importance. Today this balance has been badly shaken and the very existence of the university as an academic institution seems in jeopardy.