What year was Oxford founded

A Brief History of Oxford University

As the oldest university in the English-speaking world, Oxford has a fascinating past, ranging from rampaging students to truly formidable alumni. Just want the facts - and quickly? Then our brief recap of Oxford's history should do the trick.

Oxford University, The Bridge of Sighs | © Michael D Beckwith / Flickr

No matter how tough you look, there is no official date for Oxford University to be founded, although records show that there were classes at Oxford (in one form or another) in 1096 th Century that the university really began to grow; Renowned teachers began teaching there and students came to Oxford to live and study there. In 1167, Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris, causing Oxford University to rise rapidly.

From the start there was tension between residents and students, leading to many years of town vs gown riots. An argument got so ugly that several Oxford students fled to Cambridge and in 1209 founded their own learning institution, which became the University of Cambridge.

At first the students lived with the townspeople, but by the 13th century the first colleges were established - each with their own buildings and land - and they were encouraged to move into university accommodation instead. In fact, after 1410, students were banned from living with townspeople, and they had no choice but to live in the college's dormitories. Today the university consists of 38 different, self-governing colleges.

Oriel College, Oxford University | © Andrew Shiva / WikiCommons

The university has been a center for political and religious controversy over the centuries. During the 16th century Reformation and their support, their libraries were disbanded and books sold or destroyed by the Royalist Party during the English Civil War (1642-1649) - despite the city's preference for the opposite parliamentary cause. From the mid-1990s, however, the university hardly played a role in political conflicts. In 1878 academic halls were set up for women, and in 1920 women’s membership in the university. It was not until 1974 that five men's colleges initially admitted women, but now all colleges are both men and women. Oxford University is famous for its unique traditions including wearing subfusc (full academic attire) for exams, formal hall (seating in formal attire) at colleges, and white ties and black tie balls, among other quirkier traditions for individual colleges. Student wears subfusc | © Tejvan Pettinger / Flickr The university also has pretty impressive alumni, including 58 Nobel Prize winners (who studied or taught at Oxford), 27 British Prime Ministers, famous writers like Lewis Carroll, JRR Tolkien, Philip Larkin and Vikram Seth and WH Auden, along with actors like Michael Palin, Hugh Grant and Kate Beckinsale. Oxford has also produced at least 12 saints and 20 Archbishops of Canterbury.

Now the university receives more than 19,000 applications from potential students around the world each year, for approximately 3,200 places, thanks to its reputation as the world's leading center of teaching, learning and research.


Author: Carl Brewer

Carl Brewer is a 56 year old journalist. Internetaholic. Social media specialist. Beer buff. Friendly communicator. Researcher. Extreme student. Organizer.