Are Oxford and Cambridge affiliated with the Church of England?

1. Are Oxford University and Cambridge University affiliated with the Church of England or any other religions?

2. What about Imperial College London (ICL) and University College London (UCL)? Are they also affiliated with the Church of England or any other religions?

1 Answer

  • Clive
    Lv 7
    7 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    That used to be true, but we're looking a long way back in history...

    Once upon a time, when it was compulsory to belong to the Church of England to have any important job in England, you had to be C of E to go to Oxford or Cambridge universities. As they were the only universities in England at the time, UCL was set up in 1826 so that when not being C of E became legal, nonconformists (that is, non-members of the C of E) could get a university education. As it even accepted people with no religion, it became known as "the godless institution in Gower Street" and King's College London was set up by the C of E as the religious alternative to it. So you can see that the whole original point of UCL is that it is NOT affiliated with any religion!

    So you can imagine why college chapels at Oxford and Cambridge colleges are essentially C of E, and the college chapel at Christ Church, Oxford even doubles up as Oxford Cathedral. There's a sort of affiliation but it's not what it used to be. Certainly it doesn't matter now what religion (or none) you are to study at Oxford or Cambridge. Ever heard of Richard Dawkins? He is famously atheist but that didn't stop New College, Oxford employing him as a professor of biology.

    Imperial College is rather different as it is more recent. It is an amalgamation just over a century ago of three science and engineering colleges (and more recently, medical schools) all set up in the 19th century after it had become totally legal and respectable to be nonconformist, so it's never had any religious affiliation. I spent three very happy years there doing my BSc in physics so I know all about it. So I can also tell you that I've never heard of anyone calling it ICL - it's just "Imperial".

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