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Oxbridge

Oxbridge
© Cognitive Applications / Daniel Hahn)

Properly speaking, there's nothing to distinguish Oxbridge (a made-up combination of Oxford and Cambridge) from the rest of England's university system. Oxford and Cambridge are just two of the many fine universities to be found around the country. And yet in some ways these two are unlike any other.

As the two oldest universities in England, and among the most prestigious in the world, they have come to be seen by some as representing the very finest traditions of scholarship, while others see them as outdated bastions of establishment and élite privilege.

Whatever your view, though, it's hard to argue with the idea that the beautiful views of Oxford's "dreaming spires", or "the backs" in Cambridge, are uniquely familiar and evocative - iconic, indeed. And the 800 years of rich Oxbridge history have demonstrated the universities' staying-power, and given us countless remarkable stories, numerous peculiar traditions, and what must surely be the two most distinguished alumni lists in the world.

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