THE EVOLUTION OF UNIVERSITIES. After the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century of the Common Era, the public education system almost completely disappeared, with just a few church schools remaining. It was not until centuries later, when towns and international trade began to flourish again, that the value of education was recognized, and illiteracy addressed across a broad front. For this purpose, the first citizen schools were established. These schools, together with the church schools, subsequently evolved into universities. Students and teachers at these institutions formed a community, a collective, in other words, a universitas.