The History of Oxford Continuing Education
140 years ago, a movement called 'Oxford Extension' began at the University of Oxford - an initiative that sprang from general educational reforms in the mid-Victorian era, and from a growing national sense of social awareness.
The history of Oxford University's Department for Continuing Education is several stories in one: it's the story of a handful of dedicated Oxford tutors who felt that educational opportunity was essential to the nation's welfare and future; it's an account of ordinary citizens collaborating with Oxford to design a format of education that served their needs; and it's the story of adult education evolving as successive generations of students, from 1878 to the present day, participated in ever-growing numbers.
The articles below are milestones in our efforts to bring Oxford teaching to the widest possible audience.
19th century beginnings
Social reform was imminent, and educational reform was at the forefront of the debate
Taking the University Outside Oxford
From the first 'Oxford Extension Lecture' in 1878, women students were in the majority.
The Rev'd Arthur Johnson
The don who delivered the first Oxford Extension Lecture in Birmingham in September, 1878, was the perfect choice for the job at hand
The Importance of Rail
Oxford Extension was an idea which was put forth prior to 1850; yet could not take place until more than 25 years later.
From 1888, students began consolidating their year's extension lectures by attending intensive 'Summer Meetings'
Dawn of the 20th century
The beginning of the 20th century marks a time in which the political and social advancement of ordinary working people was on the rise.
Raising the Bar
From 1908, a new and higher standard of learning was required and it was supplied through collaborative effort
Acquisition of Rewley House
In 1927 the University purchased Rewley House on Wellington Square to be the physical base for continuing education.
A Memoir: 1913 and 1930
This snapshot of summer school life in 1930 was recorded just after the acquisition of Rewley House.
'The Education of a Whole Coalfield'
How tutors and students brought adult education into small mining villages in North Staffordshire
Vera Brittain and Oxford Extension
In the latter 19th century and in the early decades of the 20th, women had almost no opportunities for higher education.
1945-55: Teaching in West Africa
For a decade between 1945 and 1955, the Department sent tutors to Nigeria, Ghana and the Gold Coast.
1948: Harper Lee's Oxford Summer
Pulitzer Prize winning author Harper Lee attended the Department's International Graduates' Summer School in 1948.
The 1980s: Expanding Continuing Education
A growing number of people of all ages and backgrounds wished to have university-level educational opportunities
Roger Bannister's Fourth Challenge
Sir Roger Bannister, celebrated for his four-minute mile and as a neurologist and Master of Pembroke College, was an avid lifelong learner who completed our Diploma in Creative Writing, and brought dedication and talent to his studies.
The Department Today
The Department has risen to meet many challenges in the 21st Century
What's in a Name?
Our name has changed many times, but our mission has remained the same.