The oldest English-language university in the world dating as far back as 1096, Oxford University has given the world some of its most impressive figures including 27 UK Prime Ministers and 69 Nobel prizewinners. It’s regularly ranked as one of the top universities in the world especially for computer science, medicine, philosophy, politics and psychology.
The university is actually made up of 38 separate self-governing colleges which fall under the University of Oxford remit, with buildings and facilities located around the city, meaning there’s no central campus.
Growing rapidly during the Renaissance period, it became a driving force for education in the country before a series of reforms in the mid-19th century pushed the curriculum forward once more, introducing law, modern history, natural sciences, maths and sports teams into the mix.
Oxford has had a healthy rivalry with Cambridge during the ages – interestingly, Cambridge University was set up in 1209 by academics from Oxford. The two universities are commonly referred to as Oxbridge now and are seen to represent some of the best teaching and learning practices in the world. Part of that is thanks to their resources – they have the largest university library in the UK with over 11 million titles spread over 120 miles of shelves! It’s also home to the oldest museum in the world which holds works by Turner, Picasso and Michelangelo.
Previous Oxford University students include the explorer Sir Walter Raleigh, Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein, J R R Tolkien, Aldous Huxley, Rowan Atkinson and Sir Matthew Pinsent amongst others.
The university has also made it into the world of film and literature thanks to Dr Strange, Harry Potter, Chaucer and Downton Abbey, making it one of the most recognised places of learning in the world.
If you want to get a taste of university life, the museums are a great place to start, including the Ashmolean Museum, the Museum of Natural History, the Pitt Rivers Museum and the Museum of the History of Science. Largely free to enter, the museums are a fascinating way to spend a day or even a week, there’s so much on offer – head to our Oxford Museums page to find out more.
There are plenty of reasons for visiting Oxford. Whether it's the world-famous university, Westgate shopping sprees, world-class museums, or the waistband-busting food scene, you can take your pick from four wonderful Oxford hotels with parking. Each one is an excellent base for exploring this most-fascinating of cities.
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