The University of Oxford (informally Oxford University or simply Oxford) is a collegiate research university located in Oxford, England, United Kingdom. While having no known date of foundation, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s second-oldest surviving university. It grew rapidly from 1167 when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris. After disputes between students and Oxford townsfolk in 1209, some academics fled northeast to Cambridge where they established what became the University of Cambridge. The two “ancient universities” are frequently jointly referred to as “Oxbridge”.
The university is made up of a variety of institutions, including 38 constituent colleges and a full range of academic departments which are organised into four divisions. All the colleges are self-governing institutions as part of the university, each controlling its own membership and with its own internal structure and activities. Being a city university, it does not have a main campus; instead, all the buildings and facilities are scattered throughout the city centre. Most undergraduate teaching at Oxford is organised around weekly tutorials at the self-governing colleges and halls, supported by classes, lectures and laboratory work provided by university faculties and departments.
Oxford is the home of the Rhodes Scholarship, one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious scholarships, which has brought graduate students to study at the university for more than a century. The university operates the world’s oldest university museum, as well as the largest university press in the world and the largest academic library system in Britain. Oxford has educated many notable alumni, including 27 Nobel laureates, 27 Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom, and many foreign heads of state.
- Bill Clinton
- Oscar Wilde
- Stephen Hawking
- J. R. R. Tolkien
- Hugh Grant
The University of Oxford has no known foundation date. Teaching at Oxford existed in some form as early as 1096, but it is unclear when a university came into being. It grew quickly in 1167 when English students returned from the University of Paris. The historian Gerald of Wales lectured to such scholars in 1188 and the first known foreign scholar, Emo of Friesland, arrived in 1190. The head of the university was named a chancellor from at least 1201 and the masters were recognised as a universitas or corporation in 1231. The university was granted a royal charter in 1248 during the reign of King Henry III.