Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. For the quality and impact of its research, which extends from the study of the formation of the Universe and the development of early civilisations to high-performance computing and the latest medical breakthroughs, it has few peers. Researchers are tackling the major challenges facing the world, including the prevention and treatment of major diseases such as malaria and cancer; globalisation; climate change; migration; ageing populations; growing pressure on resources; and biodiversity. Alongside research, Oxford provides exceptional education, distinguished by the close contact of students with leading scholars. Oxford’s 22,000 students come from all over the world. They are attracted by the chance to study at an internationally-renowned university with a reputation for innovation and outstanding academic achievement; excellent resources in world-famous libraries, laboratories and museums; and the opportunity to work alongside world-leading researchers. Oxford’s collegiate system is at the heart of Oxford’s success, giving students and academics the benefits of belonging both to a large, internationally-renowned institution and to a small, interdisciplinary academic community. Colleges bring together scholars from different disciplines and cultures, and foster the intense interdisciplinary approach that inspires much of Oxford’s outstanding research achievement and makes it a leader in so many fields.
There were similar developments in many other continental European universities, and at least until reforms in the early 21st century many European countries (. Belgium, Spain, and the Scandinavian countries) had in all faculties triple degree structures of bachelor (or candidate) − licentiate − doctor as opposed to bachelor − master − doctor; the meaning of the different degrees varied a lot from country to country however. To this day this is also still the case for the pontifical degrees in theology and canon law: for instance, in Sacred theology the degrees are Bachelor of Sacred Theology (STB), Licentiate of Sacred Theology (STL), and Doctor of Sacred Theology (STD), and in Canon law : Bachelor of Canon Law (JCB), Licentiate of Canon Law (JCL), and Doctor of Canon Law (JCD).