"This world is changing rapidly and the Press is adapting. If ever we needed confirmation of the imperative of digital adaptation, the pandemic provided it."


Foreword by the Vice-Chancellor

One of the most enjoyable roles I perform as Vice-Chancellor of Oxford is to Chair the Delegates of OUP.

Once a fortnight during term the Delegates gather, wearing gowns, around the long wooden table in the Delegates Room of the Clarendon Building under the watchful eye of Queen Anne. It’s a sumptuous room, panelled by Minn in 1717 and embellished with pilasters of the Corinthian order and a modillion cornice. Representing a broad range of academic disciplines, Delegates gather to approve titles for publication.

Sometimes Delegates have difficulty containing their enthusiasm for a particular book, other times they advocate for the publication of a book with whose arguments they strongly disagree. On other occasions they relate how the arguments have been refined through extensive consultation with editors, reviewers, and Delegates in an effort to help the author make their case as compelling and as accessible as possible.

It is the academic endeavour at its best.

Academic publishing is just one way in which Oxford University Press advances the University’s mission of research, teaching, and contributing to the world around us. This world is changing rapidly and the Press is adapting. If ever we needed confirmation of the imperative of digital adaptation, the pandemic provided it.

The Press continues to accelerate the implementation of its digital strategy and to maximize the opportunities for ever wider access to its content.

A few examples from the past year are:

  • OUP launched the Oxford Reading Club globally. This is a digital library with hundreds of Graded Reader e-books of all levels and genres to help students read their way to better English
  • Oxford Scholarship Online is a digital library of research books. This year it reached an impressive milestone of more than 20,000 titles available
  • Epigeum, which is part of OUP, launched a new digital programme, Tackling Harassment: promoting Cultural Change in Higher Education
  • OUP remains committed to Open Access and now has published 100,000 articles via Open Access since 2004. The Oxford Open series also expanded to include Oxford Open Economics and Oxford Open Neuroscience.

The Press constantly looks for opportunities to bring its communities together. In November 2021 it ran the Forum for Educators which explored the concept of “Learning Beyond Tomorrow.” In February 2022, it held the English Language Teaching Online Conference, bringing together participants from all over the world to support teachers’ development.

The Oxford Word of the Year for 2021 was Vax, reflecting how vaccine-related words have become central to our vocabulary in English and in other widely spoken languages.

The University of Oxford, of course, through its partnership with Astra Zeneca, has been at the forefront of the global effort to vaccinate the world. Almost 3 billion doses of the vaccine developed here in Oxford have now been distributed at cost around the world. During the pandemic the Press played its part by providing free access to 130 medical and healthcare eBooks to NHS staff in England.

The Press also joined with the rest of the University in responding to the crisis in Ukraine. OUP made access to its entire journal collection freely available to educational institutions and non-profit organizations in Ukraine. It also provided free access to the Oxford Readers Collections for students in Ukraine and those displaced by the conflict, and made a suite of resources available for younger pupils through Oxford Owl.

As I contemplate life after being Vice-Chancellor of Oxford, one of the things I am most looking forward to is having the time to read so many of the absolutely wonderful and critically important books we have approved for publication during my tenure as a Delegate.

Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor, University of Oxford