Oxbridge This name denotes the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, both founded in the medieval period. They are federations of semi-independent colleges, each college having its own staff, known as Fellows. Most colleges have their own dining hall, library and chapel and contain enough accommodation for at least half of their students. The fellows teach the college students, either one-to-one or in very small groups (known as tutorials in Oxford and supervisions in Cambridge. Oxbridge has the lowest student/staff ratio in Britain. Lectures and laboratory work are organized at university level. As well as the college libraries, there are the two university libraries, both of which are legally entitled to a free copy of every book published in Britain. Before 1970 all Oxbridge colleges were single-sex (mostly for men. Now, the majority admit both sexes.
10 The students of these universities makeup one of the most elite elites in the world. Many great men such as Bacon, Milton, Cromwell, Newton, Byron, Darwin, Rutherford and many other scientists and writers were educated there as well as members of the Royal family. Nowadays their preeminence is diminishing, but not extinct. These two ancient universities have, through the centuries, had a major role in English politics Oxford more than Cambridge. Of the nine prime ministers since 1955 Mrs Thatcher was the seventh to have been to Oxford University. In 1988 her cabinet of twenty-one included seven who had been to Oxford, seven to Cambridge two had been to old Scottish universities, one to London, none to any other university in England. The top civil servants have a similar background. This preponderance of Oxford and Cambridge graduates among the political elite and among MPs in general) has declined, but it is still significant.