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Museum of Oxford Digital Exhibitions

Global Oxford

Modern Oxford is an international city and the site of several global institutions – not least the University of Oxford, which is home to students from over 160 countries and territories. Indeed, international students make up 45% of its total student body. Oxford’s international connections can be found in its museums and galleries, which contain pieces from across the globe and Oxford’s industries export widely. 

But this international identity is not just a phenomenon of the present day. Oxford’s role in the making of the British Empire ensured that its connections with the wider world were already strong hundreds of years ago. As the Empire grew, so did Oxford’s involvement in it. Missionaries were trained here and students drawn here from across the world. Memorials of Empire can be found everywhere.  

The Indian Institute on Broad Street was intended to educate the civil servants and missionaries who would run the sub-continent. Rhodes House was meant to accommodate the leaders of the ‘Anglo-Saxon race’. Now highly controversial, the material remains of Empire continue to haunt Oxford and – whether in the stained-glass windows commemorating imperial heroes or in the collections amassed by missionaries – it is almost impossible to separate them from the religious history of the City.