What's in a name?


Our name has changed many times, but our mission has remained the same.

What's in a name?

We've changed our name a few times in our nearly 140 years of existence: 

  • 1878-1892: University of Oxford Standing Committee of the Delegacy of Local Examinations;
  • 1892-1924: University of Oxford Delegacy for the Extension of Teaching Beyond the Limits of the University;
  • 1924-1970: University of Oxford Delegacy of Extra-Mural Studies;
  • 1971-1990: University of Oxford Department for External Studies;
  • 1990-present: University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education


Although our name has changed, our overall mission has remained the same for nearly 140 years: we provide Oxford teaching to adult learners outside the traditional Oxford undergraduate community.

As the decades have passed, we have continuously refined and adapted our means of delivering education to suit the times - whether these consist of bringing adult education to isolated mining communities in North Staffordshire (as we did in the first half of the 20th century) or in the provision of vital training to medical professionals from developing nations, one of the many things we are doing in the early years of this century.