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The University of Oxford and Pakistan

The University of Oxford and Pakistan
By Mustafa Imran
The University of Oxford is arguably one of the most recognized universities in the world. It is also the most heard-of university in Pakistan and India for a variety of reasons. Perhaps one of the top reasons for this is that the rich of South Asia have been sending their children to the UK, particularly to Oxford and Cambridge Universities, for over a century or so. So, I thought we should take a look at Oxford and see why our students should aim for it for their future studies.
Oxford is considered the oldest university in the English-speaking world [1]. It was ranked first in the World University Rankings 2016-17[2]. The University is very competitive: around 18,300 people applied for around 3,200 undergraduate places for entry in 2015. That means that Oxford receives, on average, around five applications for each available place.
Oxford is a collegiate university, as opposed to a campus university. The colleges, departments and other constituent units are situated throughout the city of Oxford along with a central University.  The central University is composed of academic departments and research centers, administrative departments, libraries and museums. The famous publishing company Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. The 38 colleges are self-governing and financially independent institutions, which are related to the central University in a federal system. Among these colleges, the Christ Church and the Magdalen College are the most famous ones.
The University has been functional since late 11th century, but it started to develop rapidly from the mid-12th century when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris. Initially, the university was headed by a scholaster [3] before the university received its charter in 1214. Then the title of scholaster was replaced by Chancellor.
The early subjects taught and discussed at the university were religion and politics. Later on, from 18th century onwards, the university started to make major contributions in scientific discovery and religious revival. At present, the university offers 250 subject combinations for undergraduates along with 300 graduate programs. Moreover, there are a variety of Continuing Professional Education Programs including online and distance learning programs and summer schools programs. There are around 1000 short or part-time study courses offered by the Department for Continuing Education.
Currently, there are over 23,000 students at Oxford, including 11,728 undergraduates and 10,941 postgraduates. About 42% of the total student body (almost 9,900 students) comprises of students from outside of the United Kingdom that come from over 140 countries and territories, which makes Oxford a truly global university. Out of the total student population at the university, 45% are female students and 55% are male. Although the university is 800 years old, it started enrolling females only in the 20th century.
At the university, the trend of linking with the outside world for admitting international scholars into the university began from the late 12th century (around 1190 A.D). At present, the university has around 9,900 international students out of which around 6,000 students belong to non-European countries. These students are given accommodations within the university according to the internal accommodation system.
This state-of-the-art university is situated in the historical city of Oxford in United Kingdom. According to the official government website of Oxford city, the population of the city is around 159,600 as per 2015 mid-year estimate. It is ranked as the fast-growing international city with third highest ethnic minority population in South East England (28% of the total population). The University, including the colleges and Oxford University Press, is the largest employer in Oxfordshire, supporting around 17,000 jobs and injecting more than £750 million (US$1.03 billion) annually into the regional economy.

Beside the educational contributions and development, The University of Oxford is also serving as a tourism site. This university is contributing worth £58 million through tourism and cultural contributions. The official website of the university has a dedicated section for visitors/tourists.
The university has a history of producing notable people. There are four Nobel-prize winning scientists who graduated from Oxford. Adding to this, there is a whole list of contributors provided by the university to the world who played important role in the development of science and technology. Apart from natural sciences, the university has also provided the world many renowned personalities in the field of fine arts, politics, literature, religion, mass media, trade and commerce, and philosophy, to name a few. The recently elected Prime Minister of England Theresa May and former Prime Minister David Cameron are also alumni of the University of Oxford.
It is an honor for Pakistan that our first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan was an alumni of this university.

 Moreover,  some other top Pakistani politicians are also alumni of the university, like Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, former President and Prime Minister of Pakistan; SardarFarooq Ahmad Khan Leghari; former President of Pakistan; Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan; and, Imran Khan, the famous cricketer-turned-politician. However, alarmingly for Pakistan, a very small percentage of Pakistani students are enrolled in the university compared to the overall number of non-European students currently studying at the university.
We hope that in the coming times, a greater number talented, hardworking and passionate students of Pakistan will be able to benefit from the world class education offered by Oxford University.

[1] Around the world, the University of Karueein, Fez, Morocco is considered as the oldest university, founded in 859 AD (ref:
[2] Times Higher Education
[3] A scholaster or a magister scolarum was the head of a cathedral school in middle ages Europe.

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