The University of Orlais in Val Royeaux is one of the oldest universities in Thedas. It is a major center of learning that attracts young nobles from all over Thedas as it provides some of the best education one can buy. The university is a relatively modern institution, whose liberal-minded professors have clashed with religious conservatives over the content of their classes. In theory it is open to nobles and also commoners who have proper sponsorship from an appropriate member of the nobility. The University contains a Chantry for the use of students and faculty.
The university was founded by one of the former rulers of Orlais. For many ages, it was just a way to get rid of unpromising children, with the Chantry snapping up all of the greatest minds. Under political and religious pressures, the school could only study what none of the former had problems with. Much of this changed when Empress Celene was crowned, for by declaring that she would study there the school was invigorated. In truth, she was only able to visit with the professors, but thanks to Celene's influence it has become the most respected learning institution in all of Thedas.
By decree of Divine Renata I, any Chantry art in Orlais depicting elves has been destroyed save a single mural of Shartan. A reproduction of this mural is depicted at this university, albeit with Shartan's ears cropped. This was the Divine's sole concession.
Fearing that religious and political pressure might hinder the University's capacity for innovation and research, Empress Celene has made a concerted effort to ensure that the University is free of any such constraining interests.
In recent years Celene has been strongly encouraging the university to overlook the lack of status and rank for certain individuals who show prodigious talent or potential which could help further the interests and prestige of the Orlesian Empire, provided a noble sponsors them. Most recently this has even extended to Celene personally interceding in support an elven math prodigy, Lennan, who was sponsored by Comtesse Helene. During her reign Celene also allows elves to attend and the school is open to them as long as they're willing to learn. It is common, however, for the work of elven students to be denounced and then plagiarized.
Dragon Age: The Masked Empire
Dragon Age: The Last Court
Dragon Age: Inquisition
In the wake of the disaster at the Temple of Sacred Ashes, the University of Orlais establishes a good working relationship with the newly reformed Inquisition offering resources and researchers in exchange for political and military protection.
If Gaspard becomes Emperor:Kenric mentions that Emperor Gaspard has surprisingly made no demands of the University and ostensibly intends to continue Celene's policy of non-involvement and support.
- Empress Celene "studied" at the university, though her duties meant that she in fact simply met with faculty members to discuss topics of interest to her, rather than conduct any research of her own.
- Ambrose Dumont, an artist famous for his exquisite paintings in wood and considered having no equals has gifted a series of woodcuts to the university which is now used as a primary reference for any naturalist wishing to study the psysiology of livestock and other creatures. A smaller and equally detailed series on the anatomy of nugs can be found in the Great Library of the university.
- Brother Genitivi lectured at the university.
- The University of Orlais is one of the very few institutions of higher learning mentioned in the series that is not a Circle of Magi.