The University of Durham was established in 1832 however for all intents and purposes fulfilled the function of a university long before official recognition. It is therefore the third oldest university in Britain. It is usually in the top 5 if not 3 in the largest league tables, currently rated 5th by The Complete University Guide. Throughout its long history Durham has kept up its academic excellence.
Durham is one of three collegiate universities in the UK. This means that while teaching is done by university departments, the welfare, accommodation and other social aspects of student life are handled within the 16 colleges. Each college is different from the others in some way creating closely knit environment within it.
Durham became one of the England's leading centres of medieval scholarship, along with Oxford and Cambridge. Indeed, three Colleges - now part of Oxford University - were founded from Durham: University College, Balliol College, and Durham College were run from Durham to train scholars for 300 years until it became incorporated into the University of Oxford as Trinity College.