DATA PUBLISHED IN THE ECONOMIST has exposed disparities between Oxford and Cambridge as places to live, with residents of Cambridge enjoying more affordable housing and better transport links.
A City Council commissioned study from URS consultancy firm revealed that Oxford built just 60 new houses in 2014, compared to Cambridge’s 1,020.
This lack of building has led to a severe housing shortage in Oxford, with the average house price at 11.3 times the average local earnings; making it the most unaffordable place to live in Britain.
Leader of Oxford City Council Bob Price told The Economist that Cambridge is at least 20 years ahead of Oxford.
However, he did note that this has begun to change during the tenure of the current Vice-Chancellor Andrew Hamilton, after it was claimed that Oxford University has previously been historically less forward thinking than Cambridge and failed to engage with the local community.
Nonetheless, Oxford University commented, “While Oxford’s geography can present challenges, the University and its local partners in government and business are successfully overcoming these barriers to create new enterprises, skills and jobs for the benefit of the entire region.
“The University has also created more spin-out companies than any other university over the last 25 years, many of which are still Oxford-based employers. One example, the digital games company NaturalMotion, started by a zoology graduate student, was sold for $527m last January.”
The article attributes the disparity in part to a few visionary Cambridge academics who decided the University should “convert its boffinary into wider regional prosperity”.
This led to numerous projects, including the Cambridge Science Park and St John’s Innovation Centre, forming a link between between the University and local business.
Cambridge MP Julian Huppert put their growth down to “its relatively small population, which means people are more likely to know each other than in larger cities”.
Many Oxford students were dismayed with the findings, with some expressing concern about the unaffordability of local housing, while others took a more jovial attitude.
One New College PPEist noted that, “Oxford’s failure lies totally in the name. Cambridge is like actually a bridge over the Cam but I don’t see any Oxen. Maybe we should get some oxen?”
Predictably, Cambridge students were more upbeat in their response. One Law fresher noted, “I always knew we were academically superior but it’s gratifying to know that our urban environment is also better.”
Another second year suggested, “For all the good-natured joking and one-upmanship it is nice to put a definitive end to our little squabble: Cambridge has won.”
The revelation follows a visit last October to Cambridge by 40 Oxford councillors and business leaders, who visited the town to see how Cambridge deals with its urban problems.