The Oxford Union Society, commonly referred to simply as the Oxford Union, is a debating society whose membership is drawn from the University of Oxford. A parallel organisation exists in Cambridge. Founded in 1823, it has gained a worldwide reputation for the cut and thrust of its debate, proving a valuable training ground for many future British prime ministers.
The Oxford Union is often confused by visitors with the [students' union]?, which is a completely separate organisation at Oxford, with a much less exclusive membership. The Oxford Union buildings are located in Frewin Court, off the Cornmarket, and contain a library and restaurant, as well as the famous debating chamber, which has played host to such figures as the Dalai Lama, Robert Kennedy, Malcolm X, Winston Churchill, Jon Bon Jovi... and Kermit the Frog!
The society is run by a committee of students, elected every term from the membership. The post of President of the Oxford Union is much sought-after, and is often the starting point for a successful political career. Famous past presidents include:
- Benazir Bhutto
- William Ewart Gladstone
- Edward Heath