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One of the UK’s most ethnically diverse cities, Oxford is known worldwide for its prestigious university, the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Currently ranked as the world’s number one university, it is renowned for its tutorial-based method of teaching, with students attending an average of one one-hour tutorial a week. Everywhere you look, there’s a building steeped in history, with notable examples of every architectural period since late Saxon times. Knows as the ‘city of dreaming spires’, a term coined by poet Matthew Arnold, many of Oxford’s landmarks belong to the university and colleges.
The University of Oxford maintains the largest university library system in the UK. The Bodleian Library houses over 11 million volumes on 120 miles of shelving! The city also has many museums, galleries and collections – the first of these to be established was the Ashmolean Museum, the world’s first university museum and the oldest museum in the UK. Other museums and galleries include the University Museum of Natural History, the Museum of the History of Science, Modern Art Oxford, the Museum of Oxford, Oxford Castle and The Story Museum. There are countless shops in the city centre, with two small shopping malls – the Clarendon Centre and the Westgate Centre – as well as an ice rink for budding Torvill and Deans!
You won’t be surprised to hear that Oxford also has a wealth of cinemas, and its sheer beauty has made it a popular location for filming. The city has featured in Harry Potter, Brideshead Revisited, Young Sherlock Holmes, Inspector Morse, His Dark Materials, Tomorrow Never Dies and Lewis to name a few! Britain’s first concert hall, Holywell Music Room, is the oldest purpose-built music room in Europe, and the city has produced many successful bands and musicians, from Radiohead to Supergrass.
Bus services in Oxford are run by the Oxford Bus Company and Stagecoach Oxfordshire, as well as other smaller operators, serving the city centre and its suburbs. There are five park and ride car parks with frequent bus links into the city, although a lot of city workers will opt to cycle into work. There are regular rail services to the north, south, east and west, plus Oxford’s central location on several transport routes means that it has long had the reputation of being a crossroads city. The main roads to and from Oxford are the A34, A40, A44, A420 and the M40, which connects London to Birmingham.
The city has a broad economic base and its industries include everything from motor manufacturing, education and publishing, to science-based businesses and beer brewing. The principal production site for Mini cars is in the Oxford suburb of Cowley, Oxford University Press is based in the city, and Oxford has increasingly been at the centre of digital innovation, with the rise of several fast-growing start-ups including Passle, Brainomix and Labstep. In terms of the city’s brewing history, there were once nine prominent breweries in Oxford – but most of the breweries’ associated pubs are now owned by Greene King.
Aside from the University of Oxford, the city has a second university – Oxford Brookes University – as well as specialist higher education institution, Ruskin College, which is an affiliate of the University of Oxford. What’s more, the Islamic Azad University also has a campus near Oxford.
Given its popularity and university status, house prices in Oxford are on the expensive side. The average property price is around the £462,131 mark, and in terms of property types, flats sell for an average of £300,504, while terraced houses fetch around £419,480... Not for the cash-strapped first-time buyer!