The University existed in some form from 1096, with a major growth in 1167 when English students were expelled from the University of Paris. [Ball (5), p.223] says the University began about 1133/1149. The oldest colleges date from the 13th century - Balliol, Merton and University all claim to be the oldest, for differing reasons. After a riot between town and gown in 1209, a number of students left for Cambridge. Such riots were not trivial - one in 1355 left 93 dead. [Yurdan, p.43.]

The structure of Oxford University is very similar to that of Cambridge. However, Oxford never developed the obsession with mathematics that Cambridge did and there is no equivalent to the Cambridge Tripos examination. The closest equivalent was obtaining a double first in two disparate subjects, which has only been done a few times. Robert Peel (later Prime Minister) was the first person to achieve a double first in classics and mathematics; the second such person was John Keble.

A reasonably recent poster states that the University has about 9500 undergraduates, 3000 postgraduates and 2000 teachers. There are 35 colleges, of which 28 take undergraduates.

Interest in women's education began with the formation of an Oxford Committee for Lectures (for women) in 1873. However, there was a division between those wanting a Church-based institution and those wanting a non-denominational one, so two halls were opened in 1879: Lady Margaret Hall and Somerville Hall, the latter being non-denominational and named for the great Victorian populariser of science, Mary Somerville. During 1884-1894, women were admitted to more and more lectures and examinations. In 1884, a Miss Seward, of Somerville, was the first Oxford women to enter for the Honours examination in Mathematics. But it was not until 1920 that women were allowed to be awarded degrees - this had been delayed by the War. The first women's degree ceremony was held on 14 Oct 1920, with the heads of the women's halls being given the first degrees. In 1921, the University gave the first DCL to a woman, the Queen. Women began to be admitted to the men only colleges, and vice-versa, in 1974 and I believe there is only one single-sex college left. In 1994, a woman was elected head of a formerly male college for the first time - Averil Cameron at Keble.

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Oxford professorships

Oxford Institutions and Colleges

Oxford individuals

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Gazetteer Index Main MacTutor index

An extract from The Mathematical Gazetteer of the British Isles created by David Singmaster

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