The University of Cambridge is a public collegiate research university in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Founded in 1209 and granted a royal charter by Henry III in 1231, Cambridge is the world's third oldest surviving university and one of its most prestigious, currently ranked second best in the world and the best in Europe by QS World University Rankings. Among the university's most notable alumni are 11 Fields Medalists, seven Turing Award winners, 47 heads of state, 14 British prime ministers, 194 Olympic medal-winning athletes, and some of world history's most transformational and iconic figures across disciplines, including Francis Bacon, Lord Byron, Oliver Cromwell, Charles Darwin, Stephen Hawking, John Maynard Keynes, John Milton, Vladimir Nabokov, Jawaharlal Nehru, Isaac Newton, Bertrand Russell, Manmohan Singh, Alan Turing, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and others. Cambridge alumni and faculty have won 121 Nobel Prizes, the most of any university in the world, according to the university.
The University of Cambridge's 13th-century founding was largely inspired by an association of scholars then who fled the University of Oxford for Cambridge following the suspendium clericorium (hanging of the scholars) in a dispute with local townspeople. The two ancient English universities, though sometimes described as rivals, share many common features and are often jointly referred to as Oxbridge. The university was founded from a variety of institutions, including 31 semi-autonomous constituent colleges and over 150 academic departments, faculties, and other institutions organised into six schools. All the colleges are self-governing institutions within the university, managing their own personnel and policies, and all students are required to have a college affiliation within the university. The university does not have a main campus, and its colleges and central facilities are scattered throughout the city. Undergraduate teaching at Cambridge centres on weekly group supervisions in the colleges in small groups of typically one to four students. This intensive method of teaching is widely considered the jewel in the crown of an Oxbridge undergraduate education. Lectures, seminars, laboratory work, and occasionally further supervisions are provided by the central university faculties and departments, and Postgraduate education is also predominantly provided centrally; degrees, however, are conferred by the university, not the colleges.