The University of Oxford’s distinctive structure, born of its history, is a source of strength.
Oxford is a collegiate university, consisting of the central University and colleges. The central University is composed of academic departments and research centres, administrative departments, libraries and museums. The 38 colleges are self-governing and financially independent institutions, which are related to the central University in a federal system. There are also six permanent private halls, which were founded by different Christian denominations and which still retain their Christian character.
The different roles of the colleges and the University have evolved over time.
Select and admit undergraduate students, and select graduate students after they are admitted by the University.
Provide accommodation, meals, common rooms, libraries, sports and social facilities, and pastoral care for their students.
Are responsible for tutorial teaching for undergraduates.
Determines the content of the courses within which college teaching takes place.
Organises lectures, seminars and lab work.
Provides a wide range of resources for teaching and learning in the form of libraries, laboratories, museums, computing facilities, and so on.
Provides administrative services and centrally managed student services such as counselling and careers.
Admits and supervises graduate students, and examines theses.
Sets and marks examinations, and awards degrees.
The collegiate system is at the heart of the University’s success, giving students and academics the benefits of belonging both to a large, internationally renowned institution and to a small, interdisciplinary academic community. It brings together leading academics and students across subjects and year groups and from different cultures and countries, helping to foster the intense interdisciplinary approach that inspires much of the outstanding research achievement of the University and makes Oxford a leader in so many fields.
Find out about the governance of the University
Find out about the senior University Officers