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one of the oldest and most important universities in Great Britain, founded in the second half of the 12th century or, according to some sources, at the beginning of the 13th.
In the 13th century, the university had faculties of the arts, law, theology, and medicine. In the Middle Ages, R. Bacon, J. Duns Scotus, and J. Wycliffe taught at Oxford; during the Renaissance, Erasmus of Rotterdam and T. More; and in the 17th century, J. Locke, A. Smith, and R. Boyle. In 1703, E. Halley became a professor at the university.
The historically established reputation of Oxford as a privileged aristocratic school and the strict class distinctions made in selecting students assure graduating students preference in working their way up to the highest government posts; 22 prime ministers of Great Britain, for example, graduated from Oxford.
Oxford University is a self-governing corporation, administratively subordinate only to the Parliament. Financially it is almost completely dependent on state and private contributions, which make up more than two-thirds of its budget. The tuition fee, £850 to £900 per academic year, is one of the highest in the world.
As of 1972, Oxford University included 39 colleges (29 men’s colleges, five women’s colleges, and five mixed colleges), of which five were permanent private halls for those studying for the ministry. There are faculties of theology, law, medicine, the classics, modern history, English language and literature, medieval and modern European languages, Oriental studies, physical sciences, mathematics, biological sciences, agriculture and forestry, psychological studies, social sciences, anthropology and geography, fine arts, and music. Oxford has 22 chairs and a number of specialized research institutes and laboratories. There are institutes of mathematics, medical research, Oriental studies, pedagogy, experimental psychology, economics research, and agriculture. There are also laboratories of inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry, and chemical crystallography; the Dyson Perrins and Clarendon laboratories; a computer center; the Ruskin School of Drawing and of Fine Art; and several museums. Oxford’s Bodleian Library, the university’s largest, was founded in 1602 and has 2.5 million volumes.
In 1972 there were 11,000 students at Oxford, including more than 2,500 graduate students. The teaching staff comprised 1,100 teachers, including 114 professors. It also included some 20 members of the Royal Society of London, among these the Nobel laureate D. C. Hodgkin. The Nobel laureates F. Soddy, C. Hinshelwood, and R. Robinson are among the noted chemists who have been associated with Oxford.