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Foreword by the Vice-Chancellor

Oxford University Images/John Cairns

Foreword by the Vice-Chancellor

Oxford University Press continues to play a crucial role in supporting the University’s core objectives in research, scholarship, and education.

Louise Richardson,
University of Oxford


The scale of the Press’s operations can surprise those unfamiliar with its work: it employs more than 6,000 people, and disseminates resources in 190 countries, in more than 100 languages. It also produces many thousands of new print and digital resources each year. The Press operates across the world in established markets and also in regions which, for various reasons, are difficult to access.

For several years now, OUP has been the only western publisher to operate in Pakistan, where we have built up a thriving branch. In the later stages of last year, OUP East Africa ran a campaign in northern Kenya to reach teachers and students in areas that have previously experienced security concerns, and with a high nomadic population. Many children in the region had never been to school, and the Press worked closely with local government to provide primary schools with locally published OUP resources. In the Middle East, a Dubai-based OUP teacher trainer overcame challenges posed by power cuts and air-raids to deliver a webinar to more than 100 teachers in the Syrian cities of Homs and Damascus.

The Press also harnesses digital platforms in other ways. Launched in 2014, the Oxford Global Languages (OGL) initiative supports ‘digitally endangered’ languages. Thanks to OGL, significant quantities of quality lexical information are now available in a single, linked digital repository for use by speakers, students, and developers. In 2015, OGL launched its first two language sites, isiZulu and Northern Sotho. Many other languages have followed, and more will be added over the coming years.

We all know that education has the power to transform lives at any and every age. OUP enables Oxford’s commitment to pre-university education to be taken directly into classrooms. More than 11 million OUP books are sold across Britain’s schools, helping to educate some 8 million pupils; digital projects such as MyMaths have in excess of 5 million users. Further instances of the Press’s reach are to be found abroad: for example, more than 24,000 schools in Spain use OUP resources across a range of subjects.

The past year is one in which the essential value of knowledge and expertise has been called into question. It is surely no coincidence that long before the phrase ‘alternative facts’ entered our lexicon, Oxford Dictionaries had named ‘post-truth’ the 2016 Word of the Year. The Press supports the University’s core research mission through the publication and dissemination of evidence-based, factual enquiry and empiricism. Recent Press publications have continued a long Oxford tradition of championing reason and evidence and of contextualizing contemporary debates while introducing new ideas and approaches to the subject under discussion.

In the report that follows, we celebrate the many and varied ways in which the Press pursues the University’s core aims both here in the UK and internationally, and the extraordinary work undertaken by a dedicated and deeply professional body of people.