Interesting Facts About Oxford University You Need To Know

Interesting Facts About Oxford University

Written by Kimberly Linhares

From reading cheesy young adult novels to writing reviews about them. Books, have been an escape from reality. Writing, to capture a little bit of everything about my versatile lifestyle. Let’s talk but first grab some coffee!

September 27, 2021

Oxford is a city that’s been written about endlessly, and the University of Oxford even more so, in articles, in fiction, in poetry and in history. Yet there are still some interesting facts about Oxford University that are relatively little-known. You might have heard about Oxford’s traditions, about its famous writers, about wartime Oxford, about life as an Oxford student, and more generally about what makes it extraordinary. In this blog, you’ll learn about some fascinating facts about Oxford that you need to know about. Some you might not previously have known about the amazing city of Oxford and its university!

Interesting Facts About Oxford University

Interesting Facts About Oxford University

Fun Facts About Oxford

Students At Oxford Used To Be Much Younger

There are lots of interesting facts about Oxford University, like, why town and gown violence is less of a problem? 

  • We live in a less violent society in general. 
  • There’s better policing. 
  • University students enjoy fewer privileges than they once did. 
  • Students are literally more grown up than they used to be.

In the 14th century, when town and gown violence was at its worst, students were supposed to be at least 16 years old, and would typically study until the age of around 21. However, one student killed in the St. Scholastica Day Riot was just 14, suggesting that the rules around age were often ignored. With shorter life expectancies, the onset of what was considered to be adulthood was earlier in the Middle Ages. But it’s unlikely that the teenagers of the 14th century were much different in temperament to the teenagers today, even if they had to take on more responsibilities. 

Academic Dresses Used To Depend On How Rich You Were

Sticking with the theme of lesser-known aspects of Oxford history…academic dresses were permitted to wear depending on how rich you were and how you would get university tuition funds! From the Middle Ages to the 17th century in England sumptuary laws existed, which barred people of certain classes from wearing particular colours and fabrics. But in the context of the university, this went much further, and existed even after sumptuary laws had mostly disappeared.

By the 18th century, Oxford was open not only to the wealthy, but also to young men who needed to work to pay their way through university. All the same, this was not a time that believed in equality between these different groups, so they were distinguished by their clothing, the fabrics they were allowed to wear (only the gentry and above were allowed to wear silk), the type of hat they had, and even the tassel on their mortarboard. Those whose clothes showed them to be from the upper classes could have every expectation that they would be treated better as a result.

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Little-Known Facts About Oxford

Oxford Gets Fewer Applications Than Many Less Famous Universities In The UK

This is one of the very interesting facts about Oxford University. Yes, Oxford has been consistently ranked as one of the very best universities in the world, often being lauded as the very best university in the world. Yet, that doesn’t always translate to having lots of applications. In fact, Oxford and Cambridge have a relatively low number of applications per place compared to other UK universities that rank lower in the league tables. In 2017, Oxford had six applications per place (and Cambridge had just five). In comparison, the LSE and Edinburgh had eleven applications per place, and St Andrews had ten. The reason for this is simple, students filter themselves out much more when applying to Oxford and Cambridge. The process is so competitive, only the very best bother to attempt it. 

The Oxford English Dictionary Doesn’t Tell You How To Speak Or Write

One of the most famous things Oxford produces, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). It is also often misunderstood. The misunderstanding is very simple, it’s based on the belief that the OED tells you what’s right or wrong in speech and in writing. People think that if a word is included in the OED, that means it must be “good English” and therefore acceptable to use. However, that’s not how the OED is intended to work. It’s not prescriptive, it’s descriptive, so it’s not supposed to be an authority on right and wrong. Instead, it aims to record faithfully how the English language is used by the people who speak it. Whether a word is defined a particular way depends, as far as the OED is concerned, on whether it’s used a particular way. 

Also Read: 5 Oldest Universities In The UK

Fascinating Facts About Oxford

Oxford Isn’t Just Notable For Academic Success

It’s easy to fall into stereotype and assume all Oxford people are ivory-tower academics, disdaining anything that isn’t to do with the life of the mind. An exception in the popular imagination might be comedy, but that too can have intellectual associations. But it would be wrong to assume that Oxford is only noteworthy in academic fields, its success is actually much broader than that.

Take sport, for example. You might know that the Iffley Road track in Oxford is where Roger Bannister famously became the first person to run a mile in under four minutes, and you might also be aware of the rowing prowess demonstrated by the Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge every year. But did you know that Oxford people also have a long record of Olympic success? Oxford alumni from around the world have won 160 Olympic medals.

PS: If there’s anything more you’d like us to know about. Add it to the comments section!

We hope you enjoyed reading this blog on ‘Interesting Facts About Oxford University You Need To Know’. Do check out our other blogs. 

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