The University of Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world, and is actually so ancient that its founding date is unknown – though it is thought that teaching took place there as early as the 11th century.
It’s located in and around the medieval city center of Oxford, dubbed “the dreaming city of spires” by the 19th century poet Matthew Arnold, and comprises 44 colleges and halls as well as the largest library system in the UK.
There are 22,000 students at Oxford in total, around half of whom are undergraduates, while 40 per cent are international students. A quarter of the city of Oxford’s residents are students, giving the city the youngest population in the UK.
The University of Oxford does not have a main campus, its buildings and facilities instead being scattered around the medieval city center. Its colleges each have a distinctive character and traditions often dating back centuries. Colleges are self-governing institutions to which students usually apply directly. There are four academic divisions within Oxford University: Humanities, Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences; Medical Sciences; and Social Sciences. The university’s particular strength is the sciences, and it is ranked number one in the world for medicine.
Oxford is a youthful and cosmopolitan city with plenty to see and do. There are dozens of historic and iconic buildings, including the Bodleian Libraries, Ashmolean Museum, Sheldonian Theatre, the cathedral, and the colleges themselves.
Students can choose to spend their time studying or avail themselves of the many extracurricular activities available. There’s a strong musical life at Oxford, with clubs and societies spanning all genres, from jazz, through to classical and folk. Oxford is also ranked highly for sport, with its top rowers taking part every year in the world-famous boat race with the University of Cambridge on the River Thames. Drama lovers are also well catered for, with one of the largest and most vibrant university drama scenes in the country.
Oxford has an alumni network of over 250,000 individuals, including more than 120 Olympic medalists, 26 Nobel Prize winners, seven poets laureate, and over 30 modern world leaders (including Bill Clinton, Aung San Suu Kyi, Indira Ghandi and 26 UK Prime Ministers).
It has a friendly rivalry with Cambridge for the title of best university in the UK and is regularly ranked as being one of the top three universities in the world. Notable Oxford thinkers and scientists include Tim Berners-Lee, Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins.