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The Ionian Academy was the first Greek University of modern times that was in operation in Corfu for forty years, from 1824 to 1864, that is up to the Union of the Ionian Islands with the Greek State.

The University was founded by the British philhellene Frederic North, Count of Guilford, who had established close relations with Corfu after his first visit in 1791, when the island was still under Venetian rule. Almost twenty years later, with the Ionian Islands under British rule, he conceived the idea of establishing a University in Ithaca. In this University, students from all over Greece as well as other Mediterranean and Balkan countries would attend classes taught in Greek by Greek scholars. The aim of this project was to promote the intellectual development of the Greek nation and to provide an institution of higher education for all the young Greek scholars who, up to that time, had to travel abroad in order to attend European Universities.

Lord Guilford -as Frederic North became widely known- set out to realise his dream in 1811. His efforts lasted for more than 8 years and, during that period, he was the sole coordinator and financier of this major task.