Portal:University of Oxford

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Coat of arms of the University of Oxford

The University of Oxford (informally "Oxford University" or "Oxford"), located in the English city of Oxford, is the oldest surviving university in the English-speaking world and is regarded as one of the world's leading academic institutions. Although the exact date of foundation remains unclear, there is evidence of teaching there as far back as the 11th century. After disputes between students and Oxford townsfolk in 1209, some academics fled north-east to Cambridge, where they established what became the University of Cambridge. The two "ancient universities" have many common features and are sometimes collectively and colloquially referred to as "Oxbridge". For more than a century, Oxford has served as the home of the Rhodes Scholarship, which brings students from a number of countries to study at Oxford as postgraduates. (more about the university...)

The colleges of the university, of which there are 38, are autonomous self-governing institutions. All students and teaching staff belong to one of the colleges, or to one of the six Permanent Private Halls (religious foundations that admit students to study at Oxford). The colleges provide tutorials and classes for students, while the university provides lectures and laboratories, and sets the degree examinations. Most colleges accept undergraduate and postgraduate students, although some are for graduate students only; All Souls does not have students, only Fellows, while Harris Manchester is for students over the age of 21. All the colleges now admit both men and women: the last single-sex college, St Hilda's, began to admit men in 2008. The oldest colleges are University, Balliol, and Merton, established between 1249 and 1264, although there is dispute over when each began teaching. The most recent new foundation is Kellogg College, founded in 1990, while the most recent overall is Green Templeton College, formed in 2008 as the result of a merger of two existing colleges. (more about the colleges...)

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The Queen's College, Oxford

The Neda Agha-Soltan Graduate Scholarship is a scholarship for post-graduate philosophy students at The Queen's College (pictured), with preference given to students of Iranian citizenship or heritage. It was established in 2009 following the death of Neda Agha-Soltan, an Iranian philosophy student, in the street protests that followed the disputed Iranian presidential election. The college received offers from two anonymous donors to establish a scholarship, followed by many individual donations from members of the public and former students of Queen's. The Iranian embassy in London told the college that the university was involved in a "politically motivated campaign... in sharp contract with its academic objectives". In response, The Times praised the scholarship, saying that the establishment of the scholarship was indeed politically motivated, "and admirably so", given the regime's reaction to her death and continuing problems in Iran. The college has denied that it took a political decision in establishing the scholarship, arguing that refusing the donations would itself have been a political act. Anonymous British diplomatic sources were reported as saying that the scholarship put "another nail into the coffin" of relations between Britain and Iran. (Full article...)

Selected biography

Caricature of Beecham by 'Emu', 1917
Sir Thomas Beecham (1879–1961) was a British conductor and impresario. From the early 20th century until his death, Beecham was a major influence on the musical life of Britain and, according to Neville Cardus, was the first British conductor to have a regular international career. He came from a wealthy industrial family: his grandfather had founded Beecham's Pills, and Beecham was born in the house adjoining the factory. He studied briefly at Wadham College, Oxford before leaving to study music privately. He used the money at his disposal to transform the operatic scene in England from the 1910s until the start of World War II, staging seasons at Covent Garden, Drury Lane and His Majesty's Theatre with international stars, his own hand-picked orchestra and a wide range of repertoire. In the concert hall, London still has two orchestras founded by Beecham: the London Philharmonic and the Royal Philharmonic. He also maintained close links with the Liverpool Philharmonic and Hallé Orchestras in his native county of Lancashire. His repertoire was eclectic, sometimes favouring lesser-known composers over famous ones. His specialities included composers whose works were rarely played in Britain before Beecham became their advocate, such as Frederick Delius and Hector Berlioz. He was known for his wit, and many "Beecham stories" are still told fifty years after his death. (more...)

Selected college or hall

The coat of arms of the college

All Souls College was founded by Henry Chichele (the Archbishop of Canterbury) and King Henry VI in 1438. There are no undergraduates at the college, although there have been at some stages of its history, but the Codrington Library is open to some students from the wider university. All of the college's members are Fellows, including many distinguished scholars. Several of the university's professorships are attached to the college, such as the Chichele Professorships and the Marshal Foch Professor of French Literature. Many academics from overseas spend time at the college as Visiting Fellows. All Souls is centrally located on the High Street, near the Bodleian Library and the University Church of St Mary the Virgin. The chapel contains a complete set of misericords from the 15th century. The architect Nicholas Hawksmoor remodelled much of All Souls in the 18th century. The customs of the college include a feast every one hundred years (last held in 2001) at which the Fellows parade around All Souls, carrying flaming torches and singing the "Mallard Song", to commemorate an incident when a mallard is said to have flown out of the foundations as it was being built. (Full article...)

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The War Memorial Garden of Christ Church
Credit: Bob Collowan
The War Memorial Garden of Christ Church

Did you know...

Articles from Wikipedia's "Did You Know" archives about the university and people associated with it:

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Selected quotation

John Snagge, commentator on the 1949 Boat Race, between Oxford and Cambridge...

Selected panorama

Oxford seen from Boars Hill, to the south-west of the city
Credit: Andrew Gray
Oxford seen from Boars Hill, to the south-west of the city

On this day...

Events for 25 March relating to the university, its colleges, academics and alumni. College affiliations are marked in brackets.

More anniversaries in March and the rest of the year...
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