The Oxford skyline in autumn
The Oxford skyline in autumn
Credit: Jaani Riordan / Graduate Photography Competition


Shared Past, Shared Future: University and City.

Professor Irene TraceyProfessor Irene Tracey
I am delighted to have this opportunity to introduce myself and the University’s work to our richly diverse local community. The University has been integral to the city for over 800 years. It is a key part of the city’s fabric and cultural/international identify, and it is a beneficiary of loyal city 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 the wonderful city of Oxford and its people. Having been born, educated, and lived most of my life in Oxford, I am literally Town and Gown. So, I appreciate well that the City and University are totally interdependent.

The University’s impact on the region is far greater than its dominance of the skyline or the mixed blessing of coach parties of tourists on St Giles! The University supports more than 28,000 jobs and the total economic impact of the University pre-pandemic was estimated at £15.7 billion. There are, of course, many further examples of the economic and social impact of the University. The University partnership with the local NHS enables us to lead research into some of the most challenging health problems of our time, such as heart disease, dementia and cancer, not to mention developing the Oxford / AstraZeneca COVID vaccine. Over the course of a year millions of people visit the University museums, libraries and collections. There are countless examples to be found, some evident, some hidden, of the University working with the city.

I have always believed that, in addition to its research and teaching, Oxford University has a duty to support the community in which it lives, and to work in partnership so that, together, we set collective ambitions for all our people. As members of the community, university staff engage with 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. As Vice-Chancellor, I am absolutely committed to strengthening and deepening the relationship between the city and the community.This will be a priority during my tenure.

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 as high a proportion of our students as possible, more than any other large UK university, thereby trying to minimise the additional strain on the private rental sector. We are also working to develop subsidised staff housing and local services in our new Begbroke development to further reduce strain on the city’s housing stock and public services, as well as generate exciting new employment opportunities.

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 Oxford community.

Professor Irene Tracey

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