The trouble with Oxford, Cambridge, et al is that they started out as a culture-building refuge against a predominantly savage, ignorant, barbaric and warring world riddled with illiterate, internecine skirmishing between glory-hungry warlords (as eastern bloc has been in the recent era - e.g; former Yugoslavia).
It was a brave stance to choose the cloister then. They were exposed to many vicissitudes not to mention viking pillage parties. In contrast to now, where the university life dominates in the prosperous west, and could be said to have civilised the world it once struck out against. Now a great proportion of the it's youth get to taste a slice (however thinly spread its slither) of intellectual contemplation in the cloisters.
Yet it is a cushioned and cotton woollen world of relatively easy privilege compared to the stance it must of been then, to stand over and above,
against such an apathetic grain of a world steeped in roughshod ethics and very much a law unto its own, if not downright lawless most of the time. To take that position was to truly stand for something rather than swim with the prevailing tide as it is now.
We could blame the contemporary influence of America on all of this, but a little probing reveals that the birth of America collides with the dawn of the early modern era, the post-reformation world which brought down the spiritual age of contemplating friars into the temporal - to the age of man's enlightenment alone, sans God, embracing the material world with the hope of conquering the riddle and secrets of nature's majesty.