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Interesting Facts about Oxford University

Facts about Oxford and the Oxford University


There is no building in oxford called oxford university. It is a conglomerate of 39 colleges and related buildings. Locals get great amusement when visiting American tourists ask where is the University?

The oldest college is disputed it depends on the definition of a college. The first 3 were University college, Merton and Balliol

Oxford University is the oldest English speaking university in the world, dating back to 1249. It boasts 39 colleges including Christchurch.

In the 16th century the most important development was the founding of Christ Church by king Henry VIII. It was founded in 1546 despite the turbulence created by the reformation.

The term "dreaming spires" was coined by the poet Matthew Arnold

"And that sweet city with her dreaming spires,
She needs not June for beauty's heightening,"
  • Matthew Arnold

Facts of Oxford University

  • The University of Oxford's total student population numbers over 18,000 (students in residence, 2004-2005).
  • Over a quarter of these students are from overseas, and more than 130 nationalities are represented among our student body.
  • Almost 6,500 students are engaged in postgraduate work. Of these, around 4,000 are working in the arts and humanities. * With a continuation rate of almost 98 per cent, Oxford has one of the lowest drop-out rates in the country.

Oxford Statistics

Population: 134,248
Elevation: 203 feet
Average Annual Precipitation: 29.7 inches
Average Jan. Temperature: 39 degrees F
Average July Temperature: 62 degrees F

Facts about The Boat Race

Two friends, Charles Merival who was at Cambridge, and Charles Wordsworth (nephew of the poet William Wordsworth), a student at Oxford, decided to hold a race between the universities.

On 12 March 1829, Cambridge challenged Oxford and a tradition was born.

In the early years of the Boat Race, the crews wore no distinguishing colours.

However, in 1836 Oxford selected dark blue to race in, the colour of their stroke-man's college (Christ Church), and Cambridge adopted the "duck egg blue" of Eton.

Cambridge are the more successful university, and in 1936 celebrated a record 13th consecutive win.

Oxford sunk in 1925, and in 1951 they lost the rescheduled race after falling foul to rough waters in the initial clash.


Course record: 16.19 mins
(Cambridge in 1998)
Biggest win: 20 lengths
(Cambridge in 1900)
Smallest win: A canvas (4ft)
(Oxford in 1952 and 1980)
Sinkings: Three
(Cambridge in 1859 and 1978, Oxford in 1925)


Oxford - 70 wins
Cambridge - 77 wins
One dead heat in 1877
1829: First race
1856: First annual race
1912: Both crews sank
1924-36: Cambridge win a record 13 in a row
1954: 100th Boat Race
1976-85: Oxford win 10 in a row
1987-92: Oxford make it 16 wins in 17 years

The current score stands at 77 to Cambridge, 70 to Oxford, with one controversial dead heat in 1877.

Legend has it that the judge at the finish, "Honest John" Phelps, was asleep under a bush as the crews raced past.

1 a 1829 10 Jun Oxford 14:03 Easily

Three time Olympic gold medal winner Matthew Pinsent rowed for Oxford in 1990, 1991 and 1993.

In the history of the Boat Race there has been one dead heat. The judge on the finish ("Honest John" Phelps) was asleep under a bush as the crews raced past. When awakened and asked the result he said "Dead heat to Oxford by four feet"

The smallest winning margin by Oxford on record is just one foot - 2003

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