The University of Oxford, the oldest education provider of its kind in the English-speaking world, is one of the most iconic on the planet. World leaders, Prime Ministers, Nobel Prize winners and the great and good of the showbiz industry all have ties to the university, which has claimed numerous awards.
While it is not clear when the university was established, teaching was taking place as far back as 1096 and stepped up several gears as of 1167, when Henry II banned English students from studying at the University of Paris!
By the 1300s it was earning the praise of popes and kings alike, with Edward III waxing lyrical about the university’s impact on learning, and its graduates’ success in carving out successful lives once their studying had finished.
The 18th century was very much seen as a breakthrough era for scientific discovery. Professor of Geometry, Edmund Halley, predicted the return of the comet that was named after him. Religion was also at the forefront of everyone’s minds, with John and Charles Wesley’s prayer meetings paving the way for the introduction of the Methodist Society.
From 1878, academic halls were brought in for women, and they gained full membership of the university in 1920. Five all-male colleges first allowed females to attend in 1974, since when all colleges have altered their statuses to welcome both genders. St Hilda’s College, which used to be for women only, was Oxford’s final single-sex college. It has admitted males and females since 2008.
During the last two centuries, Oxford has invested heavily in its research capacity in the natural and applied sciences, including medicine. This has enhanced its reputation as a leading world force in learning, and a hub for debate.
Today, there are more than 23,000 students at Oxford, including more than 11,000 undergraduates and over 10,000 postgraduates. The coveted university receives nearly six applications for every available place.
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More than 300 different graduate degree programmes are provided, and students have arrived from more than 140 nations. The student body is made up of almost 10,000 students, 42% of which are citizens of foreign countries.
Most of Oxford’s UK undergraduates come from state schools. Of the places offered to British students attending UK schools or colleges, more than 59% of undergraduate places went to people from the state sector.
Among the gifted men and women to have studied or worked at Oxford are no less than 27 British Prime Ministers, at least 30 international leaders, 50 Nobel Prize winners, and 120 Olympic medal winners.
Countless high-profile people have had links with the university, including Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world-wide web, poet TS Eliot, business tycoon Rupert Murdoch, Dame Josephine Barnes, the first female President of the British Medical Association, and author Monica Ali.
Oxford is rated as the best university in the world by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2018. It has, for many years, been an ever-present at the top of league tables ranking the best education providers on the planet. It held the number one position in the Times Good University Guide for 11 consecutive years, and is widely-regarded as a ‘super brand’. The university also has a Gold Teaching Excellence Framework.