Oxford: That great old town in England and the setting for the mystery series Inspector Morse. But most people when they hear Oxford mentioned will automatically think of Oxford University. Oxford University actually comprises of 39 colleges, all of which are independent and self-governing, but all form the core element of the university.
Oxford was in fact the first university in the English speaking world and has now been around for at least nine centuries. There is no clear date of when it actually started but Oxford University came into its own and grew with great speed once Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris.
Naturally enough Oxford was just for the male species to start with but in 1878 academic halls were established for women and from 1920 women were allowed to become members of Oxford University.
Today, all but one of the colleges that make up Oxford University are attended by both men and women. St Hilda’s is the only college left that will only admit women but this will change in October 2008.
Oxford University has a long history of educating and producing some truly gifted and women. Today it can boast of having educated 25 British Prime Ministers, 25 International leaders, 47 Nobel prize winners, 6 current holders of the order of merit, 6 kings, 12 saints, 20 Archbishops of Canterbury and 9 Olympic medal winners.
There are 107 Oxford graduates sitting in the UK’s House of Commons and more than 140 that sit in the House of Lords. Now, add to these impressive figures at least 5 members of the US House of Representatives, and $
4 members of the Senate we can see why Oxford can stand proud.
Listed below are just a smattering of some famous 20th century Oxonians:
King Abdullah of Jordan
Rowan Atkinson – comedian
Kingsley Amis – author
Clement Attlee – UK Prime minister 1945-1951
Sir Roger Bannister – neurosurgeon and athlete
Sir John Betjeman – poet
Benazir Bhutto – former Prime Minister of Pakistan
Tony Blair – UK Prime Minister 1997-2007
Justice Stephen Breyer – Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the United States
Bill Clinton – President of the United States 1992-2000
T.S. Eliot – poet
Indira Gandhi -Prime minister of India 1966-77 and 1980-84
Hugh Grant – actor
Professor Stephen Hawking – physicist
Edwin Hubble – astronomer
Bobby Jindal – US Congressman
Imran Khan – Pakistani politician and former international cricketer.
Nigella Lawson – chef and broadcaster
John Le Carre – author
C.S. Lewis – writer and scholar
Dudley Moore – actor, comedian, musician
Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan
Michael Palin – actor and writer
Margaret Thatcher – UK Prime Minister 1979-90
And needless to say there are many more and the previous centuries also produce there fair share of famous Oxonians.
At this present time there are almost 20,000 students at Oxford which includes 12,106 under graduates and 7,380 post graduates.
Admission to oxford is not easy and there are usually 4 applications for each available place. But once in the drop out rate is the lowest in the UK. Once through the system Oxford graduates are among the most employable in the UK.