This question asks about the history of why Howard University in Washington, DC, USA has remained a school whose student and faculty bodies are predominantly African-American.

Do "historically [minority ethnic group]" universities exist in a meaningful sense outside the USA? For example, are there universities in Spain which are historically known for targeting or serving the ethnic Basque community? Are there "Historically Italian" universities in Argentina? Do the Ainu of Japan tend to predominate at a specific Japanese university?

This question is not about whether specialized minority-serving academic institutions should exist, or what their social, political, or economic ramifications are, if any.

This question involves something other than a request to churn and process statistical data - it is a question about social realities and social perceptions in academia. For example, if a census of a particular university in the UK happens to reveal that 65% of the faculty and students are Scottish Highlanders, but there is no significant social perception of the school as a "Highlander School" and no particular adherence to Highlander culture, then it would not count under this question. If, however, there is a UK university whose charter specifically says that it was established "for the education of Highlanders", or which inspires mentions of "oh, that Highlander school!" when mentioned casually in pubs, it counts, even if the actual number of Highlanders on campus as of 2018 is 15%.

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    Legal segregation of blacks from whites in the US is the reason for the existence of historically black universities/colleges. I suspect another category you would by more likely to find abroad are institutions that primarily or exclusively educate women.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 14:57
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    Do you count countries with ethnic minorities that speak a different language? Do Swedish-speaking universities in Finland, French or Italian speaking universities in Switzerland, or French-speaking universities in Belgium count? Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 15:01
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    As the situation in Spain has been mentioned, here universities aren't targeted to specific groups, although they use the languages of their area. Contrastingly with the USA, here most students don't travel far away. In addition there are private universities with religious backgrounds, but they aren't focused in students from their groups.
    – Pere
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 15:05
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    @RobertColumbia - I think all my examples count then. Next question: do anglophones in Quebec count as a minority? What about Flemish speakers in Brussels (or other French speaking parts of Belgium)? Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 20:14
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    @user8001 Probably the central difference between the US and South Africa as far as this question goes is that half the US did not have state-mandated segregation. I'm no expert on this, but I believe that most of the earliest efforts to educate blacks in the US were initiatives by Northern abolitionists and religious groups like the Quakers. Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 22:44

2 Answers 2


As universities in England were originally based on training religious folk for the priesthood, they did not accept other religions or non-religious persons, so alternative learning places evolved, which are now full universities, but the female/male divide was strong in learning establishments until recently. Imperial College, London was specifically created to allow Empire students of a non-UK-religious background get a university education in UK. They might be non-Christian, Non-Believers or even 'pagans' or even "Scots Protestants" but Imperial College was open to them while the older English religious founded establishments were not.

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    I was a student at Imperial in the late 1960's. By then, any remnant of the religious difference or special association with the former empire had gone. Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 20:41

Trinity College Dublin could be considered an example. Consider, from Wikipedia:

Originally it was established outside the city walls of Dublin in the buildings of the dissolved Augustinian Priory of All Hallows. Trinity College was set up in part to consolidate the rule of the Tudor monarchy in Ireland, and it was seen as the university of the Protestant Ascendancy for much of its history. Although Catholics and Dissenters had been permitted to enter as early as 1793, certain restrictions on their membership of the college remained until 1873 (professorships, fellowships and scholarships were reserved for Protestants). From 1871 to 1970, the Catholic Church in Ireland forbade its adherents from attending Trinity College without permission. Women were first admitted to the college as full members in January 1904.

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