Oxford University Grows In Popularity: Students Opt For Flowing Robes, Grand Dining Halls, Thanks To ‘Harry Potter’ Films

Oxford University has seen growth in the number of applications from state school pupils and is thanking the Harry Potter franchise for the increase in popularity among the masses. Whereas the university says that state students have traditionally been afraid of certain formal aspects of the school, such as the academic robes, formal dining hall, and ancient traditions, the “Hogwarts Generation” is embracing the idea of a more formal education setting. In fact, Oxford’s head of admissions says that the latest generation of students is excited about the prospect of attending a school that requires long flowing robes and maintains a grand dining hall.

The Daily Mail reports that Oxford University is one of the few universities that still requires formal academic dress. This traditional approach has proved as “daunting” in the past as the university had a reputation for being too formal. However, Oxford’s head of admissions, Samina Khan, says that the formal aspects of the university are proving to be positive attributes to the latest generation of Harry Potter fans. With the “Hogwarts generation” growing up reading the Harry Potter books and watching the franchise movies, Khan says that Oxford is now appealing to the potential students as they can see similarities in the traditional university and the magical school.

“This is a generation that’s grown up with Harry Potter. They recognize the benefits of that small college community, the grand tables and talking about current affairs.”

Khan also notes that there is good reason why students would relate Oxford with the Harry Potter movies, Oxford’s Christ Church College was used as inspiration for set design for Hogwarts school hall in the Potter films, and is one of just a handful of universities that still requires academic dress on specific campus days. According to the Oxford University dress code, formal academic dress is required on registration days, during all degree ceremonies, and while sitting for examinations. The formal attire consists of a gown, a mortar board or soft cap, and carnations when taking examinations. The carnations are colored based on the exam with first time test takers wearing a white carnation while those taking their final exam wear a red carnation. Everybody else wears pink.

“The wearing of academic dress should be seen not simply as a sign of achievement, but as a collective symbol of the responsibility which falls on all members of universities.”

Oxford just last year allowed students to vote on whether the academic dress code should remain in effect, 75 percent of the students voted to keep the dress code. Therefore, it seems that the dusty traditions of Oxford are part of the charm of the school and students choosing to attend Oxford appreciate this aspect of their university.

In addition to the school robes, students also eat in a formal dining hall that looks rather similar to the one featured at Hogwarts. Long wooden tables are featured throughout the dining hall as dim lights hang above.

Though more state students are wanting to attend Oxford, spots are very limited. The university notes that almost half of the students come from state school but that accounts for only 3,200 spots. With over 17,000 applications, Oxford hopefuls still must work hard to win their place at the historic university.

What do you think about the surge in popularity of Oxford due to the “Hogwarts Generation’s” obsession with the Harry Potter franchise?

[Image via AP/Lefteris Pitarakis]