As the oldest in the English-speaking world, the University is a unique and historic institution. There is no clear date of foundation, but teaching existed at Oxford in some form in 1096 and developed rapidly from 1167, when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris. Over the centuries, the University strengthened its traditional role as an international forum for intellectual debate and learning, and added a major research capacity in the natural and applied sciences to become a place for scientific discovery.
Today the University of Oxford is renowned for research excellence, having the largest volume of world-leading research in the country (Research Excellence Framework 2014), and being home to some of the most talented people from across the globe. The University’s work helps the lives of millions, solving real-world problems through a huge network of partnerships and collaborations. The breadth and interdisciplinary nature of its research sparks imaginative and inventive insights and solutions.
The University is associated with 16 winners of the Nobel Prize in Medicine, 11 in Chemistry, and 6 in Physics. Notable Oxford thinkers and scientists include Tim Berners-Lee, Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins. Actors Hugh Grant and Rosamund Pike also studied at Oxford, as did writers Oscar Wilde, Graham Greene and Vikram Seth.
The Medical Sciences Division is an internationally recognised centre of excellence for biomedical and clinical research and teaching, ranked amongst the best five biomedical institutions in the world. One of the largest biomedical research centres in Europe, it is comprised of over 5,500 academics, researchers, NHS clinicians and GPs, and 3,000 postgraduate and undergraduate students. The Division has steadily grown with the opening of the Big Data Institute, Target Discovery Centre and BioEscalator. Research encompasses all aspects of modern molecular and cellular biochemistry, from atomic resolution biophysics to cell biology and imaging, generating an annual research income of around £12.5 million.
Research on topics related to the challenges of globalisation is carried out in a number of departments, including the Oxford Internet Institute, dedicated to the social science of the Internet, and the Environmental Change Institute, Oxford’s interdisciplinary institute for research on the complex processes of global environmental change, the exploration of sustainable solutions and the promotion of change for the better through partnership and education.
University College is Oxford’s oldest college, founded in 1249. With alumni that includes Professor Stephen Hawking, writer CS Lewis and former US President Bill Clinton, the college has taken another step forward by launching a blockchain research centre in October 2018. Led by Professor Bill Roscoe, former head of Oxford University Computer Science Department and fellow of the college, the centre will begin by focusing on computing and cryptography. The aim is to improve the efficiency of blockchain mining and look into how to approach its other challenges. In June 2018, Stanford University, another prestigious higher education institute, announced it would be creating a centre for blockchain research to focus on understanding the technology and its potential impacts.