Edwin Lerner

10 Facts About Top Ranked Oxford University

Oxford University is a favourite on a day trip from London often on the way to Stratford-upon-Avon or Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill. A stop at Oxford would normally include a walking tour and a visit to one of the Colleges such as Brasenose or Christchurch. Some people, however, might prefer to spend the whole day there visiting more than one college and seeing the place of learning which was home to such famous writers as Lewis Carroll, J.R. R. Tolkein, and C.S. Lewis, all of whom taught at Oxford University. Below are 10 facts about Oxford University which was recently ranked as the best in the world.

1. Oxford University is the oldest university in Britain and the second oldest in the world. There is no exact date for its foundation but scholars have been studying where oxen crossed over a ford in the River Thames for over 900 years.

2. From the beginning students organised themselves into halls which soon grew into the modern-day Oxford Colleges. These were often supported and sponsored by wealthy individuals who sometimes gave their names to colleges such as Merton and Balliol. There are now 38 colleges at Oxford University.

3. In the year 1209 a series of violent disputes between the people of the town and Oxford University led to the establishment of a university at Cambridge. There remains a strong but friendly rivalry between these two ancient universities. This is manifested in the annual rowing race along the Thames in London every March.

Oxford University. Photo Credit: ©Falco/Pixabay. Oxford University. Photo Credit: ©Falco/Pixabay.

4. Oxford University has educated more Prime Ministers than all other British universities combined. Theresa May is the twenty-seventh occupant of 10 Downing Street to gain an Oxford degree. So too did Britain’s only other female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.

5. There are around 12,000 undergraduates and 10,000 postgraduates in Oxford University at any one time. Many overseas students study under the Rhodes scholarship scheme set up by Cecil Rhodes. These include Bill Clinton (and his daughter Chelsea), Lester Pearson and Bob Hawke, Prime Ministers of Canada and Australia respectively, and the singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson.

6. In medieval times students at Oxford University were bound by the rules of the church which did not allow them to marry. This is why the first degree they are awarded is called ‘Bachelor of Arts.’

Oxford_Hertford Bridge, popularly known as the Bridge of Sighs, is a skyway joining two parts of Hertford College over New College Lane in Oxford, England. Its distinctive design makes it a city landmark. Photo Credit: ©Papannon/Pixabay. Oxford – Hertford Bridge, popularly known as the Bridge of Sighs, is a skyway joining two parts of Hertford College over New College Lane in Oxford, England. Its distinctive design makes it a city landmark. Photo Credit: ©Papannon/Pixabay.

7. Women were first admitted to Oxford University in 1875 into separate female colleges. They now make up around 45 percent of students and all Oxford colleges are co-educational.

8. Inspector Morse solved dozens of murders in Oxford University and town with his sidekick Lewis. The real ale, Jaguar driving, and Wagner-loving detective was created by Colin Dexter, who studied at Cambridge University.

9. The hall at Christchurch, the largest college at Oxford University, was copied by Warner Brothers and recreated in the studio one and a half times its original size as the dining hall for Hogwart’s School in the Harry Potter films. Other scenes from the early Harry Potter films were shot in Christchurch College itself and near the Bodleian Library.

10. The motto of Oxford University is ‘Dominus Illuminatio Mea’ which is in Latin, the language of scholarship during the Middle Ages. It means ‘God is my light.’

Oxford - dining room at Christchurch University. Photo Credit: ©Waldo Miguez/Pixabay. Oxford – dining room at Christchurch University. Photo Credit: ©Waldo Miguez/Pixabay.


Edwin Lerner

Named Edwin (an early king of Northern England) but usually called ‘Eddie’, I conducted extended tours around Britain and Ireland for many years and now work as a freelance guide and tour manager with a little writing and editing on the side.  I specialise in public transport and walking…

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