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HBAC in Context

Founded in the 13th century, Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. It is today a global centre of excellence in undergraduate and post-graduate education and a world leader in research. Crucial to Oxford’s success is its unique dual structure. All students and tenured academics are members both of the University and one of the 38 self-governing colleges. The colleges, each with students and academics drawn from across the range of subjects and from all parts of the world, provide thriving small-scale academic communities that foster creative interaction between  disciplines, cultures, nationalities and religions.

Colleges have always excelled in undergraduate teaching, largely delivered through Oxford’s acclaimed tutorial system. However, if the University is to retain its remarkable pre-eminence, the colleges must be equally effective in providing places for graduate students and in providing a structure which facilitates the cross-disciplinary conversations which are at the heart of expanding the frontiers of knowledge in the 21st century.

Challenges facing Oxford and Keble

With a smaller endowment than many of its main overseas rivals, a reliance on government funding and facing global competition for staff and students, how does Oxford maintain its position as one of the world’s leading universities?

One of the keys to Oxford’s long success and global reputation for excellence lies fundamentally in its collegiate structure. If Oxford is to remain one of the world’s leading universities, colleges need to evolve within the University to face the challenges of the modern world. These include not only the pressure to ensure that there is an excellent student experience for undergraduate and the growing number of graduate students, but also the need to ensure the best possible environment for cross-disciplinary academic collaborations and the spinning out of commercial opportunities from first-class research. All that in a world in which resources are highly constrained and global competition for talent is intense.

Through the development of The H B Allen Centre, with top-quality graduate accommodation and exceptional supporting and research facilities, Keble will play a vital role in enabling Oxford to meet these challenges and continue to compete internationally at the very highest level.


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Keble and Oxford