University College, Oxford

University College
Quad, University College, Oxford University
University College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svg
Blazon: Azure, a cross patonce between four [sometimes five] martlets or.
LocationHigh Street
Coordinates51°45′09″N 1°15′07″W / 51°45′09″N 1°15′07″W / Boatclub
University College, Oxford is located in Oxford city centre
University College, Oxford
Location in Oxford city centre

University College (in full The College of the Great Hall of the University of Oxford,[1][4] colloquially referred to as "Univ"[5]) is a constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. It has a claim to being the oldest college of the university, having been founded in 1249 by William of Durham.

As of 2018, the college had an estimated financial endowment of £132.7m.[6]

The college is associated with a number of influential people. Notable alumni include Clement Attlee, Harold Wilson, Bill Clinton, Neil Gorsuch, Stephen Hawking, C. S. Lewis, V. S. Naipaul and Percy Bysshe Shelley.


A legend arose in the 14th century that the college was founded by King Alfred in 872.[7] This explains why the college arms are those attributed to King Alfred, why the Visitor is always the reigning monarch, and why the college celebrated its millennium in 1872. Most agree that in reality the college was founded in 1249 by William of Durham. He bequeathed money to support ten or twelve masters of arts studying divinity, and a property which became known as Aula Universitatis (University Hall) was bought in 1253.[8] This later date still allows the claim that Univ is the oldest of the Oxford colleges, although this is contested by Balliol College and Merton College.[9][10] Univ was only open to fellows studying theology until the 16th century.

The college acquired four properties on its current site south of the High Street in 1332 and 1336 and built a quadrangle in the 15th century.[11] As it grew in size and wealth, its medieval buildings were replaced with the current Main Quadrangle in the 17th century. Although the foundation stone was placed on 17 April 1634, the disruption of the English Civil War meant it was not completed until sometime in 1676.[1] Radcliffe Quad followed more rapidly by 1719, and the library was built in 1861.

Like many of Oxford's colleges, University College accepted its first mixed-sex cohort in 1979, having previously been an institution for men only.[12]