Dreamy spires: Oxford fitter than Cambridge

Oxford ranks higher than 'the other place' in list of most beautiful universities, but neither claim the top spot

Oxford has beaten its rival Cambridge on a list of the “ten most beautiful universities in the UK”.

The centuries-long debate has been claimed settled by a report in Times Higher Education, which described the University as “arguably, one of the UK’s most beautiful.”

Oxford came third in the ranking which also featured Edinburgh, Cardiff, and Bristol. Royal Holloway University, London came first.

The New Year’s report stated: “Expect to be in awe of the dreaming spires and college scarfwearing students on bicycles.”

Special mentions were given to the Radcliffe Camera, Bodleian Library, and the Bridge of Sighs.

Geoffrey Tyack, author of Oxford: An Architectural Guide, told Cherwell: “Oxford also has 38 colleges, some of them outstandingly beautiful, as are many of the colleges of Cambridge, which, however, lacks as imposing a central university area as Oxford’s.”

A spokesperson for Keble College, distinguished from other Oxford colleges by its brickwork, told Cherwell: “We are proud to add to the architectural diversity at this beautiful university. “Keble College was originally designed by William Butterfield, who claimed that he ‘had a mission to give dignity to brick’.”

However, Royal Holloway, London’s red brick Founder’s Building was the centerpiece of the report.

Tyack also told Cherwell: “the central university area of Oxford… is surely at least as beautiful as, though less architecturally uniform than, Royal Holloway and the Old College of the University of Edinburgh, impressive as those buildings are.”

Tom Allen, a resident of Cambridge said of the two unversity towns: “They’re different kinds of pretty, so you can’t really compare them.”

Alex Greenwood, a St Catherine’s student, told Cherwell: “Despite the constant comparisons to prisons, primary schools and Sovietera communist blocks, Oxford’s more modern colleges like Catz and St Anne’s add a certain 60’s charm to the Oxford landscape which Cambridge sorely lacks.”

Matt Carlton said: “Oxford is bustling and Cambridge is ghostly. Everyone there is on bikes, there is no hum of conversation.”

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Whilst Tyack admitted disappointment at Oxford not coming first, he said: “Relegating Cambridge to fourth place, after Oxford, is some small consolation.”

This is not the first time that Oxford has beaten Cambridge in architectual rankings. Last year, Oxford was voted the most beautiful university in the UK in The Tab’s nationwide poll of students.

For the last two years, Oxford has beaten Cambridge in the THE’s academic ranking. Both universities came first and second in the world academic rankings in 2017, beating the California Institute of technology while other UK institutions slipped down the league table.