University of Oxford

Oxford’s remarkable global appeal continues to grow. Students from more than a hundred and forty countries and territories make up a student population of over twenty thousand. Over a third comes from outside the United Kingdom.

A brief history of the University

As the oldest university in the English-speaking world, Oxford is a unique and historic institution. There is no clear date of foundation, but teaching existed at Oxford in some form in 1096 and developed rapidly from 1167, when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris.

Oxford at a glance

  • There are over 21,000 students at Oxford, including 11,752 undergraduates and 9,621 postgraduates.
  • The University, including the colleges and Oxford University Press, is the largest employer in Oxford and the second largest in Oxfordshire, supporting more than 18,000 jobs and injecting £750 million annually into the regional economy.
  • In the 2011 National Student Survey, 97% of Oxford students found their courses intellectually stimulating, compared to 89% in other Russell Group universities and 84% of all English university students.
  • 93% of Oxford students are satisfied with their course quality, compared to 88% in other Russell Group universities and 84% of all English university students.
  • Oxford has one of the lowest drop-out rates in the UK: figures published in March 2012 by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show that only 1.6% of Oxford students dropped out, compared with the national average of 8.6%.
  • 93% of Oxford leavers are employed six months after graduating.
  • Every year more than 15,000 people take part in courses offered by the Department for Continuing Education, making Oxford University one of the largest providers of continuing education in the UK.

Oxford awards and rankings

  • Oxford’s academic community includes 80 Fellows of the Royal Society and 100 Fellows of the British Academy.
  • In 2012, two Oxford professors were elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society.
  • In 2012, six Oxford professors were elected to the Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences.
  • In 2011, eight Oxford professors were elected to the Fellowship of the British Academy.
  • The successes of Oxford’s academics are recognised regularly in the awarding of prestigious international prizes, such as the European Laureate Award in the L’ORÉAL-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards, bestowed on Professor Fran Ashcroft in 2012; the Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine, given to Professor Fiona Powrie in 2012 and Professor Peter Ratcliffe in 2009; the Gairdner Award for medical research, awarded in 2010 to Professor Peter Ratcliffe and Professor Nick White; and the International Balzan Prize, awarded to Professor Joe Silk in 2011 and to Professor Terence Cave in 2009.
  • Oxford University has won eight Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Higher Education, more than any other university. The prizes were awarded to: the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) (2011); the University’s museums, libraries and archives (2009); the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography at Oxford University Press (2007), the Clinical Trial Service Unit (2005), the Refugee Studies Centre (2002), the Centre for Clinical Vaccinology & Tropical Medicine (2000), the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine (1996), and Isis Innovation Ltd (1994).
  • Oxford was ranked first in the UK and fourth in the world in the Times Higher Education Supplement’s World University Rankings 2011-2012. In the disciplinary tables, Oxford was ranked first in the world in clinical, pre-clinical and health subjects; third for social sciences; fourth for life sciences; seventh for the arts and humanities and for engineering and technology; and tenth for physical sciences.
  • Oxford is repeatedly ranked in the top ten of universities worldwide in the annual tables compiled by Shanghai Jiaotong University.
  • In June 2011, the annual Times Good University Guide named Oxford Britain’s top university for the tenth year running.
  • Oxford is ranked second in the UK by The Guardian (2012), The Complete University Guide (2012) and The Sunday Times (2011).
  • In the Financial Times Global Rankings (Jan 2012), the Saïd Business School’s MBA programme was ranked 20th in the world and second in the UK.

Postgraduate admissions and support

  • Graduate students make up around 44% of the total student body at Oxford.
  • 4.3% of all the UK’s graduate research students are studying at Oxford University.
  • Oxford offers more than 320 different graduate degree programmes and has over 9,600 graduate students from more than 140 countries and territories.
  • The number of applications for postgraduate study at Oxford now surpasses those for undergraduate study.
  • Applications for graduate study have increased by nearly 87% in the five years to 2010.
  • The University received more than 20,400 applications for graduate study for entry in 2010-11.
  • 74.3% of applications came from outside the UK.
  • Overall, 61% of Oxford’s current graduate students come from outside the UK.
  • More than £11.5 million is awarded to graduate students each year through over 30 central University scholarship schemes. In addition, there are over 400 full or partial scholarships available through colleges and departments.

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