Education: A-Z Of Universities: Oxford

Age: Almost 900.

Address: Spread across the city of Oxford, its dreaming spires, meadows, quadrangles, chapels and museums have inspired writers from Chaucer to James Fenton.

Ambience: The oldest university in Britain and probably the most famous in the English-speaking world, Oxford is a vast, sprawling institution. Lovely - though occasionally draughty - buildings date from every century. Good shopping in a generally affluent city. Great walks in Christchurch Meadows, Mespots and Port Meadow. But the city is also under terrific environmental pressure, containing as it does a world-famous university, a centre of medical excellence and Rover car factories.

Vital statistics: Life centres around the 39 autonomous colleges where the 11,000 undergraduates and 4,400 postgraduates mostly live, eat, socialise and are taught. Colleges vary in character and facilities - eg, Merton known for its food, New College for its niceness, Balliol for its brains. All colleges except St Hilda's are now mixed. Independent school and southern students are over-represented, but efforts being made to change that. Terms still last only eight weeks. Tutor/student ratio 1 to 3 at most.

Added value: An Oxford degree helps you get a job. Its graduates have one of the lowest unemployment rates - just 2.6 per cent last year were still out of work six months after going down.

Easy to get into? Noooooooo. Entrance now based on conditional offers, typically AAB at A-level. Almost all students interviewed.

Glittering alumni: 25 British PMs, including Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher; the American President, Bill Clinton; the BBC director general, John Birt; TV personalities Angus Deayton and Michael Palin; scientists Dorothy Hodgkin, Richard Dawkins, Erasmus, Edmund Halley and Stephen Hawking; Cardinal Basil Hume; huge number of writers, plus the media mogul Rupert Murdoch and the singer Kris Kristofferson.

Transport links: Get on yer bike. Oxford is flat and small enough. Good bus and rail services to London.

Who's the boss? Dr Colin Lucas, Master of Balliol and an expert on the French Revolution.

Teaching rating: Rated 23 out of a maximum of 24 in engineering; 23 in materials; 21 in modern languages.

Research: Came first out of 101 universities in the 1996 research assessment exercise. Twenty-five departments awarded tip-top 5*.

Financial health: In the black but heading into the red next century, according to a recent financial model from KPMG.

Nightlife: Cheap beer in college bars. Most colleges have balls (if you can afford the ticket). Otherwise frequent bops, plenty of theatre, debating, politics and eating out at the Carfax chippy or Cowley Road.

Cheap to live in? No. Costs pounds 48 a week on average to live in university accommodation (minus food); pounds 50-pounds 60 to live out.

Buzz-sentence: I donned my subfusc but it didn't help me pass my collections because I was so worried about paying my battells. (Wearing a cap and gown didn't help me pass my exams because I was so worried about paying my college bill.)

Next week: Oxford Brookes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Life and Style
life
News
Melissa and Joan Rivers together at an NBC event in May 2014
peopleDaughter Melissa thanks fans for 'outpouring of support'
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
One in six drivers cannot identify a single one of the main components found under the bonnet of an average car
motoringOne in six drivers can't carry out basic under-bonnet checks
News
i100
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
News
peopleWrestling veteran drifting in and out of consciousness
Arts and Entertainment
Shady character: Jon Hamm as sports agent JB Bernstein in Million Dollar Arm
filmReview: Jon Hamm finally finds the right role on the big screen in Million Dollar Arm
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Nursery assistants required for day to day roles in Cambridge

£10000 - £15000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...

Primary teachers needed for supply in Huntingdon

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers need...

KS2 Teacher Plymouth

£21500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

KS1 Teacher Plymouth

£23500 - £45000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone