“You are students at the university, and have no more business with politics than you have with rat-catching,” asserted John Ruskin, expressing, albeit somewhat forceably, a view which would have gained the hearty assent of most university officials of any period. Yet it has often proved impossible to separate education from political values and to prevent undergraduates from expressing political preferences. Nonetheless, the forms of student political activity have varied markedly: from quiet debates in a convivial, club-like ambiance to direct action and violence; from extreme Right to extreme Left. In contrast to students of other countries, Oxford undergraduates during the 19th century were predominantly Tory. This political character and its favorable contrast to the universities of the Continent was complacently noticed by the young Oxford graduate, George Curzon, in 1884. “The swaggering infidelity of the Parisian students, the atmosphere of beer and bravado that prevails among the Germans, the organized sedition of the Russians, one and all inspire us with an additional respect for a system which is so far as possible removed from any of these extremes,” he asserted. Although this glib differentiation was obviously a self-congratulatory caricature, like most caricatures, it rested on a solid basis in observed fact. What were the causes of these differences between Oxford and the continental universities and what role did Oxford itself play in the formation of undergraduates' political values during the 19th century?