Oxford. That *other* university. Right in the middle between London and Gloucester, it is the oldest university in the English-speaking world as well as the second-oldest continually running university, right after the University of Bologna. With evidence that classes were taught there as early as 1098 A.D., Oxford has certainly built up an impressive array of facts and figures, here are a few that you may not know.
Oxford University has over 22,000 students. 11,772 are undergraduate students, while 9,850 are graduate students. Grad students make up 45% of the total student body and 62% of the grad students come from outside the UK.
Despite being considered a major institution in Britain, Oxford is a private university. The average annual tuition for undergrads is based on a sliding scaled based on income but you can be charged as much as £9,000 per year (about $14,000). That rate is only for British and EU students – those from anywhere else will have to pay up between £14,415 and £21,220 (depends on the course) plus a £6,724 yearly fee.
Yes, It’s Snobby
The word “snob” actually originated at Oxford. It started off as an abbreviated form of the Latin phrase “sine nobilitate”, which means “without nobility”.
Book My Flight
On May 1 at 6:00 AM every year, the Magdalen College choir sings in Latin from Magdalen Tower to celebrate the beginning of spring. A large public crowd will gather to listen and the singing is followed by much dancing. Best of all, the pubs all open at 6:00 AM as well to serve beer and breakfast.
The Flame of Knowledge
The Bodleian Library is the main research library at the University of Oxford. The size of its collection is second only to the British Library in the UK with over 11 million items. Irish law also requires that the library request a copy of each book published in the Republic of Ireland. Most interesting is that before a student can gain admission as a new reader, they must agree to a formal declaration not to remove any text from the library nor to bring a flame, start a fire, or smoke in the library. While the declaration was once done orally in Latin, now it’s satisfied by signing a letter.
No Girls Allowed
At least, not until 1878. And even though they were allowed to take examinations by 1884, they were not allowed to take degrees until 1920. Oxford allowed women to have full university status in 1959 and then the university became co-education officially in 1974.
No More Potatoes
There were a lot of crazy ideas and cures to ward off the Black Death. In the 16th Century, the Christ Church College doctor prescribed potato peels as a preventative measure. After eating potato peels for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, the students of the college revolted. A piece of graffiti protesting the diet is burned into one of the college’s doors, saying “No Peel”.
Harry Potter, Christ Church’s New Celebrity
The stairs for the Great Hall at Christ Church College inspired and were later used as the stairs to enter Hogwarts’ Great Hall in the Harry Potter books and films.
This, That, and the Other
Of course, the Oxford comma, used in lists of three or more items such as the title to this entry, originated at Oxford University Press, where it is standard.
The Legend of Frideswide
This legend concerning the founding of the university states that Frideswide was a princess who wanted to dedicate her life to the Church. However, a king planned to forcibly marry her and she fled to Oxford to escape him. The king pursued Frideswide, but upon entering the city, he was struck blind. He begged the princess to forgive him and released her from the betrothal, thus getting his sight back. Frideswide then formed a nunnery on the site and the legend goes that the first colleges sprung up around it to accommodate monastic scholars.