The tranquillity of an Oxbridge college glimpsed through an open wicket gate in the outside oak door. Paving stones lead to a grass quadrangle in front of an old two-storey building in yellow-pink stone, with sash windows on the upper floor above a passage entrance decorated with rococo carving and painted crest, leading to another grassed quadrangle. A male and female student, similarly dressed in short black coats, are walking in step away from the gate and into the depths of the college carrying their bags and holding hands.
Oxbridge is a portmanteau of "Oxford" and "Cambridge"; the two oldest, most prestigious, and consistently most highly-ranked universities in the United Kingdom. The term is used to refer to them collectively, both in contrast to other British universities and more broadly to describe characteristics reminiscent of University of Oxford and University of Cambridge, often with implications of superior social or intellectual status.

Although both universities were founded more than eight centuries ago, the term Oxbridge is relatively recent. In William Thackeray's novel Pendennis, published in 1850, the main character attends the fictional Boniface College, Oxbridge. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, this is the first recorded instance of the word. Virginia Woolf used it, citing Thackeray, in her 1929 essay A Room of One's Own. By 1957 the term was used in the Times Educational Supplement and in Universities Quarterly by 1958.

When expanded, the universities are almost always referred to as "Oxford and Cambridge", the order in which they were founded. A notable exception is Japan's Cambridge and Oxford Society, probably arising from the fact that the Cambridge Club was founded there first, and also had more members than its Oxford counterpart when they amalgamated in 1905.

In addition to being a collective term, Oxbridge is often used as shorthand for characteristics the two institutions share:

The word Oxbridge may also be used pejoratively: as a descriptor of social class (referring to the professional classes who dominated the intake of both universities at the beginning of the twentieth century), as shorthand for an elite that "continues to dominate Britain's political and cultural establishment" and a parental attitude that "continues to see UK higher education through an Oxbridge prism", or to describe a "pressure-cooker" culture that attracts and then fails to support overachievers "who are vulnerable to a kind of self-inflicted stress that can all too often become unbearable" and high-flying state school students who find "coping with the workload very difficult in terms of balancing work and life" and "feel socially out of depth".

Thackeray's Pendennis (1850) also introduced the term Camford as another combination of the university names – "he was a Camford man and very nearly got the English Prize Poem" – although this term has never achieved the same degree of usage as Oxbridge. Camford was also used in the Sherlock Holmes story The Adventure of the Creeping Man (1923).

This page was last edited on 5 April 2018, at 11:03.
Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxbridge under CC BY-SA license.

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