Oxford’s history as a centre of scholastic study dates to the 11th century. A violent dispute with townspeople led to a partial exodus of students to Cambridge (1209); the first Oxbridge colleges were endowed later in the century. Thereafter, the Oxbridge duopoly of university education in England continued unchallenged until the Victorian era. In Scotland, three universities were created by papal bull in the 15th century: St Andrew’s (1410), Glasgow (1451) and Aberdeen (1495), while Edinburgh was founded by royal charter (1583). A long hiatus on foundations then ensued, with the deficit in academic opportunity partially filled by dissenting academies in the 17th–18th centuries. London, Durham and Manchester were chartered from the 1830s while a federation of three universities (Cardiff, Aberystwyth and Bangor) was established in Wales (1893). Queen’s University in Belfast was founded as a college in 1845, becoming a university in 1908. A burst of foundations in major English urban centres followed in the Edwardian period. Post-war the distribution more closely mirrored population with a wave of ‘red-brick’ universities.
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