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Oxford University

England is famous for its educational institutes. There were many different kinds of schools in Medieval England and the English universities were one of the most significant creations. The students who attended either Oxford or Cambridge Universities set an intellectual standard that contrasted markedly with the norm of Medieval England. Today both Universities are internationally renowned centres for teaching and research, attracting students and scholars from all over the world.

The University of Oxford, located in the city of Oxford is one of the oldest and most highly revered Universities in Europe. It was the first university established in Britain.

According to legend Oxford University was founded by King Alfred the Great in 872 when he happened to meet some monks there and had a scholarly debate that lasted several days. A more realistic scenario is that it grew out of efforts begun by Alfred to encourage education and establish schools throughout his territory.

Long after Alfred, during the late 11th or early 12th century, it is known that Oxford became a centre of learning for clerics, from which a school or university could have sprung or evolved. The university was given a boost in 1167 when, for political reasons, Henry II of England ordered all English students at Paris to return to England. Most of the returning students congregated at Oxford and the University began a period of rapid development. Oxford, like Cambridge, differs from many other universities in that there is no central university campus. Instead, the University consists of a large number of colleges and associated buildings, scattered throughout the city.

Today Oxford University is comprised of thirty-nine colleges and six permanent private halls, founded between 1249 and 1996, whose architectural grandeur, together with that of the University's libraries and museums, gives the city its unique character. More than 130 nationalities are represented among a student population of over 18,000. Each college is practically autonomous with its own set of rules. There is central administration, providing services such as libraries, laboratories, lectures and examination.

There have been many famous people who have studied at Oxford University and they include John Locke, Adam Smith, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lewis Carroll, Oscar Wilde, J. R. Tolkien, Indira Gandhi, Baroness Margaret Thatcher, Bill Clinton, Rupert Murdoch, Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean), and Hugh Grant. All in all, Oxford has produced four British and at least eight foreign kings, 47 Nobel prize-winners, 25 British Prime Ministers, 28 foreign presidents and prime ministers, seven saints, 86 archbishops, 18 cardinals, and one pope. Seven of the last eleven British Prime Ministers have been Oxford graduates.

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