Oxford University

University of Oxford

Oxford is a world-leading centre of learning, teaching and research and the oldest university in the English speaking world.

While there is no clear date of foundation, but teaching existed at Oxford in some form in 1096 and developed rapidly from 1167, when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris.

There are 38 Oxford colleges, which are financially independent and self-governing, and they together constitute and control the central University in a kind of co-operative system. There are also six permanent private halls, which are similar to colleges except that they tend to be smaller and were founded by particular Christian denominations. The colleges and halls are close academic communities, which bring together students and researchers from different disciplines, cultures and countries. This helps to foster the outstanding research achievement that has made Oxford a leader in so many fields, as each college ensures small size, human scale and face-to-face interaction between students and scholars.

The colleges and the University work together to organise teaching and research, and many staff at Oxford will hold both a college and a University post.

The Central University

The central University is made up of many different sections, including academic and administrative departments, libraries and museums. There are roughly 100 major academic departments, which are overseen by the four academic divisions: Medical Sciences; Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences; Humanities and Social Sciences. Each department organises teaching and research in a different subject area, from Anthropology to Zoology. There are also many smaller, specialist research centres and subdepartments.

Facts and Figures

  • Oxford was ranked first in the world in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings for 2017 and 2018.
  • There are over 23,000 students at Oxford, including 11,728 undergraduates and 10,941 postgraduates.
  • Oxford is very competitive: more than 19,000 people applied for around 3,200 undergraduate places for entry in 2016. That means that Oxford receives, on average, nearly 6 applications for each available place.
  • The majority of Oxford’s UK undergraduates come from state schools. The latest figures show that, of places offered to British students attending schools or colleges in the UK, over 59% of undergraduate places went to students from the state sector.
  • Oxford offers more than 300 different graduate degree programmes. 5% of all the UK’s graduate research students are studying at Oxford University.

40% of total student body - over 9,300 students - are citizens of foreign countries. Students come to Oxford from over 140 countries and territories.

  • According to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, the official UK-wide assessment of all university research, Oxford has the largest volume of world-leading research in the country.
  • The University, including the colleges and Oxford University Press, is the largest employer in Oxfordshire, supporting around 17,000 jobs and injecting more than £750 million annually into the regional economy.

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