|Increases a town's Research Points output by +5.|
The University is a type of Town Building. The University may only be built by 7 of the races, namely the High Elves, High Men, Nomads, Orcs, Beastmen, Dark Elves and Draconians. They are referred to as "the 7 advanced races" solely because of this ability. A town must already contain a Sages' Guild in order to construct a University. The University's base construction cost is 300.
The University itself provides +5 per turn, applied directly to the current Research effort undertaken by the town's controlling wizard. It is not much of an investment, given that the University has an Upkeep Cost of 3, but the cumulative effect of having many Universities can be quite noticeable.
More importantly, the University's primary function is to unlock up to 5 additional buildings for construction - all of which are extremely useful. This includes the War College, Oracle, Mechanicians' Guild, Wizards' Guild and Bank. The University is only one component in unlocking each of them, but without the University none of these important buildings is available at all. This is why only those races that have access to the University can develop their towns to truly awe-inspiring productiveness.
After making several advances in coordinating intellectual studies, a town can take this to the logical conclusion: building an entire facility complex to combine all academic studies under a single roof, providing the infrastructure for both research and education. Experts in various fields come here to teach a variety of subjects, collaborate on expanding their own knowledge in these subjects, and coming up with new discoveries across the spectrum. This results in a sudden bloom of new possibilities for the town and its scholars.
In the game, a University is a large red-brick structure, overgrown with ivy. Towers are built into the corners of the structure, and many windows line its walls. Internally, the university contains both classrooms for education of new students, halls for symposia to take place, and dormitories for students to live while they carry out their studies. Laboratories for actual research and invention are probably present as well.
Races and Construction Edit
Only half of the races in the game are capable of constructing the University. These are the High Elves, High Men, Nomads, Orcs, Beastmen, Dark Elves and Draconians. Due to the importance of the University in unlocking further options for a town, these races are referred to as "the 7 advanced races". The effects of the University's availability distinguish them greatly from the other 7 races, in terms of town development and vicariously imperial development.
For all 7 advanced races, construction of the University requires a town to first build a Sages' Guild - the prototypical institution that precedes a University by allowing scholars to meet and discuss their ideas. If the Sages' Guild is missing, the University cannot be built. In fact, if the Sages' Guild is lost or sold off while the University is still in construction, the project will be canceled prematurely and cannot be restarted until this required building is rebuilt.
Construction of a University costs 300. Despite its high cost, the construction options it unlocks are often so useful that it is often worth it. Any town that grows to a certain size will want to build a University to unlock them, regardless of the town's dedicated purpose if any.
Continuous Effects Edit
The presence of a University in a town increases that town's output of Research Points by +5 per turn.
Increased Research Points naturally speeds up Research, thus allowing a wizard to acquire new spells more quickly. A single University can research most Common Spells within a few turns even if no additional Power is put into Research at all. Remember also that the bonus is cumulative with that of the Library and Sages' Guild - the prerequisites for a University - giving a total of +10 from all three buildings combined. With several towns constructing their own Universities, the total Research they provide can lead to incredibly-fast spell research.
Note that the 5:3 ratio between Research output and Gold upkeep means that a University is not very efficient compared to putting Power into Research. However, it burns off Gold (which is sometimes abundant) instead of Mana (which is harder to get). Alchemist wizards, on the other hand, actually get a net benefit here, essentially paying 3 for 5 - 66% more efficient than putting Power into Research.
Unlocked Town Buildings Edit
The University is an essential component in constructing any of the advanced Town Buildings available in the game (except the Cathedral). Without access to a University, a race simply cannot reach the culmination of construction projects, and must be content with mid-tier structures. Advanced structures like the Bank or Mechanicians' Guild are what really allows a town to maximize its potential and become a powerful capital.
The University unlocks no fewer than 5 different buildings, described below. Note however that it is only one of the components required for each of these buildings. Each building also requires a second component (different for each of them) that must also be built in order to unlock the advanced building.
With both the University and the Armorers' Guild, scholars can begin researching the intricate strategies and tactics involved in warfare. Academic debate on the best ways to wage war lead to the construction of the War College, which allows creating new Normal Units that are already at an Experience level of "Veteran" - much more powerful than standard troops.
With both the University and the Parthenon, theologists can explore the world of the gods in a scientific approach, leading to the construction of the Oracle. This is a religious structure which produces a large amount of Power - but also allows a town's priests to scry into the wilderness around the town and spot enemy unit movement many miles away. This option is sadly not available to the High Elves.
With both the University and the Miners' Guild, experienced mine technicians can receive the required education to construct elaborate and sophisticated machinery, leading to the construction of the Mechanicians' Guild. This boosts the town's Productivity by a massive amount, and also allows constructing devious devices like the Catapult. This option is sadly not available to the Draconians.
With both the University and the Alchemists' Guild, the study of metaphysical forces and supernatural materials can proceed in an academic fashion, leading to the construction of the Wizards' Guild. Not only does this building provide a very large output of Power for its controlling wizard, but also allows to train combat Magicians or even Warlocks to support your armies with destructive magical abilities. This option is sadly not available to the Nomads.
Finally, with both the University and the Marketplace, merchants can turn their own experience into an academic study - the study of economics. This leads to the construction of the Bank, which will massively boost a town's Gold output. This can later lead to an even better economic structure - the Merchants' Guild - for port towns conducting trade across the oceans. This option is sadly not available to the Beastmen.
Unlocked Normal Units Edit
The University unlocks no new units for any race, not even in conjunction with other Town Buildings. It is, however, another required step along the road to acquiring Magicians, Catapults, and the War College - making it important even to some unit-production centers.
There is a good reason why the races that can construct a University are described as the "7 advanced races" and distinguished from the others. The University unlocks so much potential construction in a town, that without it a race is truly limited in its capabilities. The 7 advanced races can concentrate on turning specific towns (and later on, possibly all towns) into impressive metropolises, boosting their contribution to your empire by a significant amount far beyond anything that's possible without a University present.
It is often not necessary to build the University early on. The structure, as well as everything it unlocks, is prohibitively expensive. Also, the benefit from having such structures as the Bank or Mechanicians' Guild depends on the town's "natural" output, and so will help more in larger and better-developed towns than it would in small towns. In any case, it is unlikely that you'll be able to build such structures in a budding town anyway.
Still, once a town belonging to one of the advanced races reaches a certain size, it becomes almost imperative to build a University there regardless of the town's designated purpose. Any town can benefit from at least one of the advanced structures unlocked by the University, if not from all of them: A unit-production center will want a War College and a Mechanicians' Guild, a financial center will want a Bank, a religious town will want an Oracle, and so on. In fact, the only structure that isn't helpful to have in every town is the War College, and that's only one of five structures unlocked by the University.
Judging the point when a town should build a University is tricky. If you're not pressed for Research, it's often best to wait until the town is well-developed, otherwise the construction projects of post-university buildings could take many turns to complete. If you intend to focus on reaching one of these structures early on, possibly by investing some Gold into completing a few projects, you may wish to put up your University earlier. In any case, thanks to the Research bonus the University gives out, it's never a bad idea to build one if you can afford it.