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Oxford University: Second Oldest University in Western World

Online Desk | January 20, 2016
The University of Oxford, England

The University of Oxford, England

The University of Oxford is a collegiate research university located in Oxford, England. 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.

It is also 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 organized 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 organized 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 several notable scholarships, including the Clarendon Scholarship which was launched in 2001 and the Rhodes Scholarship which has brought graduate students to study at the university for more than a century.

The university operates the largest university press in the world and the largest academic library system in the United Kingdom. Oxford has educated many notable alumni, including 27 Nobel laureates, 26 British Prime Ministers (most recently David Cameron, the incumbent) and many foreign heads of state.

In common with most British universities, prospective students apply through the UCAS application system, but prospective applicants for the University of Oxford, along with those for medicine, dentistry, and University of Cambridge applicants, must observe an earlier deadline of 15 October.

To allow a more personalized judgment of students, who might otherwise apply for both, undergraduate applicants are not permitted to apply to both Oxford and Cambridge in the same year. The only exceptions are applicants for organ scholarships and those applying to read for a second undergraduate degree.

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Most applicants choose to apply to one of the individual colleges, which work with each other to ensure that the best students gain a place somewhere at the University regardless of their college preferences. Short listing is based on achieved and predicted exam results, school references, and, in some subjects, written admission tests or candidate-submitted written work.

Approximately 60% of applicants are shortlisted, although this varies by subject. If a large number of shortlisted applicants for a subject choose one college, then students who named that college may be reallocated randomly to under-subscribed colleges for the subject.

The colleges then invite shortlisted candidates for interview, where they are provided with food and accommodation for around three days in December. Most applicants will be individually interviewed by academics at more than one college. Students from outside Europe can be interviewed remotely, for example, over the Internet.

There are many opportunities for students at Oxford to receive financial help during their studies. The Oxford Opportunity Bursaries, introduced in 2006, are university-wide means-based bursaries available to any British undergraduate. With a total possible grant of £10,235 over a 3-year degree, it is the most generous bursary scheme offered by any British university.

The university maintains the largest university library system in the UK, and, with over 11 million volumes housed on 120 miles (190 km) of shelving, the Bodleian group is the second-largest library in the UK, after the British Library. The Bodleian is a legal deposit library, which means that it is entitled to request a free copy of every book published in the UK. As such, its collection is growing at a rate of over three miles (five kilometers) of shelving every year.

Oxford has been among the top ten universities in different league tables. In particular, it had held the number one position in the Times Good University Guide for eleven consecutive years, and has also maintained its 1st place in "Clinical, Pre-Clinical & Health" of the THE World University Rankings for three consecutive years. THE has also recognized Oxford as one of the world's "six super brands" on its World Reputation Rankings. Oxford ranked 10th in the world and 2nd in Europe in Best World Universities 2012 compiled by Human Resources & Labor Review (HRLR) using Measurements of World's Top 300 Universities Graduates' Performance.

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