Introduction | University of Oxford
The Oxford skyline in autumn
The Oxford skyline in autumn
Credit: Jaani Riordan / Graduate Photography Competition

Introduction

Shared Past, Shared Future: University and City 2016.

Professor Louise RichardsonProfessor Louise Richardson

Credit: John Cairns

I am delighted to have this opportunity to address all members of our richly diverse local community. The University has been part of the city for at least 800 years and is both an integral part of its fabric and the beneficiary of its support. While spires and towers, libraries and laboratories, and museums and gardens shape the look and life of the city, they could not exist in isolation from Oxford itself.

The University’s impact on the region is far greater than its dominance of the skyline. As the largest employer in the county it is responsible for over 11,400 jobs. In 2014 the University brought £478 million worth of research contracts into the area and had more individual patents – and generated more income from intellectual property – than any other UK university, with business spin-outs alone generating £7 million.

There are, of course, many further examples of the economic and social impact of the University. The University partnership with the local NHS, from October 2015 as a Foundation Trust, enables us to lead research into some of the most challenging health problems of our time, such as heart disease, dementia and cancer. Over the course of a year in excess of 2 million people attended free events organised by the wonderfully creative staff at the University museums, libraries and collections. There are countless examples to be found, some evident, some hidden, of the University working with the city. This report tries to capture just some of them.

I have always believed that, in addition to its research and teaching, a university has a responsibility to be both a force for good in the world, and a good neighbour locally. Our community grant scheme is one way the University contributes to the life of the city. On an individual level, University staff work with and support the decision-making processes of the city and county on a daily basis. Our students volunteer for local organisations and enthusiastically go into schools to support education. We come together to strengthen an existing complex fabric of interwoven interests, from Low Carbon Oxford to cultural partnerships, from business and planning to the Playhouse and open spaces.

While new to Oxford I am acutely conscious of the tensions occasioned by the presence of the University. We all know, only too well, the intense pressure on affordable housing in our city. That is why we do our best to house students where we can, thereby trying to minimise the additional strain on the private rental sector. Through our ongoing support of local projects and active engagement with local concerns we will continue to work with – and in support of – the wider community.

Professor Louise Richardson
Vice-Chancellor

Professor Anne TrefethenProfessor Anne Trefethen

Credit: Rob Judges

As Chair of the University’s Community Engagement Group I see first-hand the many ways in which we at the University are working with, and participating in, activities within the city and region. I know how important that engagement and communication are if we are to be an effective partner in the community. Some of that is about letting you know what we do in our daily interactions with the city and the region. But a great deal of it, and I would say the most important part, is about having the ability to discuss ideas and issues and listening to people from the diverse communities in Oxford. To permit such a dialogue the people of Oxford need to know where to go, and who to speak to when you want to raise something with us. That is why we have included an extensive contact page. We look forward to hearing from you.

Professor Anne Trefethen
Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Services and University Collections) 
Chief Information Officer, fellow of St Cross College