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United Kingdom

University of Oxford in the UK

University of Oxford is a world-renowned institution and  ranked in the top five global universities from year to year.

It has produced literally hundreds of the most eminent politicians, heads of state, scientists, philosophers and explorers, 72 Nobel Prize winners and 160 Olympic medallists , and is the home of the Rhodes Scholarship.

Oxford University has played a role in theological reform, civil war, social change and expanding the boundaries of human knowledge since it was first founded in 1096. A public research university, and foremost member of the Russell Group, Oxford epitomises excellence, in both teaching and learning. Needless to say, it is not an easy university to get into, and has an acceptance rate of around 16 percent. Thankfully, it is no longer mandatory to know Greek when applying (abolished in 1920) or Latin (abolished in 1960), and the Protestant bias and obligatory daily worship have also gone with the wind.

Nevertheless, Oxford University remains the ultimate dream destination for students. Since its very name not only conjures up images of Gothic spires, the Bodleian, Inspector Morse and gowned undergraduates sweeping down its historic streets on bicycles, but also opens many doors, professionally and career-wise.

Oxford University – how is it organised?

The first university in the English-speaking world, Oxford has four divisions. These are: Humanities, Social Sciences, Medical Sciences and Physical and Life Sciences – and over 100 departments. The university is organised on a collegiate basis, with 39 colleges which admit their own students and manage their lives, from food to entertainment, to the syllabus they will follow and the tutorials and lectures they will attend. The 25,000 students at Oxford University are equally divided between undergraduates and postgraduates and 32 percent are international students. The university observes three terms, which means students have quite long breaks. Since Oxford expects its students to be committed to their academic goals and do course work during these breaks, it is generous with its scholarships and part-time employment is rare. All 33 of the subjects taught at Oxford are ranked in the Top Ten for the UK.

University of Oxford – what does it offer students?

In terms of academic support, Oxford is a wealthy university and you will have access to the best resources you could wish for. On the personal level, the tutorial system encourages students to have strong relationships with their tutors, and turn to them for help and guidance. Tutorial groups are rarely larger than four students and a tutor, and normally consist of discussions of past or future essays and working through problem sheets. You will receive a great deal of individual attention in this type of teaching system. In addition, you will attend lectures and classes. Oxford has the largest university library system in the world. At the time of writing, offers 190 kilometres of shelves and 11 million books, and counting, for you to consult.

What’s more Oxford University has to offer?

Its laboratories are first-class. Given the fact that Oxford has a total annual income of approximately £ 2.45 billion, and received £624.8 million from research grants and contracts in 2019 alone, you can see that the resources and materials on offer will be cutting-edge and constantly upgraded. Oxford University Press is the largest university press in the world and this, along with its many real estate holdings – Bagley Wood, Wytham Wood, Christ Church Meadow, Harcourt Arboretum, the Botanic Gardens etc. All of this make Oxford a rich university which is able to offer its students generous grants, bursaries, scholarships and expert teaching.

How do I apply to Oxford University?

Through UCAS – but see below.

In addition to putting in an application via UCAS, you will most likely have to sit an entrance exam. This depends on the course to which you are applying. You may need to submit one or more essays along with your UCS form. Contact Elab for further information .

Can I apply to both Oxford and Cambridge?

Remember that you cannot apply to both Oxford and Cambridge in the same year!

Applications have to be submitted by 15 October, far earlier than other UCAS universities. By the time this date arrives, you should have determined if you have an entry exam to sit, registered for it and received your test entry number. You normally get your number from your school or test centre.

University of Oxford may expect you to write one or more essays, in addition to your UCAS form. If this is part of the requirements, you will have to send the essays by 10 November.

Although University of Oxford is a collegiate university, you have the option of applying to a specific college or simply making an open application. Your preferences will be taken into account, but you are quite likely to be reassigned to a college which has vacancies, if your first choice is full.

What are the next steps?

If you are on the short list, the University of Oxford will invite you to a three-day interview. You will receive bed and board and meet members of the department. The written work you sent in is likely to be referenced during the interview. Therefore, make sure you read through whatever essays you have submitted. The admissions board will be looking for critical and analytical thinking skills, enthusiasm and innovation, strong writing abilities and a commitment to excellence. Express yourself and do not be reticent and struck dumb with anxiety. This is your time to shine.

Once the interviews are concluded, you should get a response by early January. Some 25 percent of applicants get an offer from a college they did not apply to, or you may even get an open-offer. It means that you will be assigned to a college once your secondary school results are in and have been passed on to Oxford.
It may sound long-winded and difficult. Remember hovewer, that if you do get a place the whole process will have been more than worth it.

Is Oxford University a campus university?

No, it is a collegiate university with most of its buildings in the city center.

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Is Oxford University older than Cambridge?

Yes. In 1209 there was a great deal of tension between the townsfolk of Oxford and the students. A number of Oxford academics decided to leave and found a new university to the north-east – Cambridge. It is interesting that the division between town and gown persisted into the seventeenth century civil war period. During that time the people of Oxford supported the Parliamentarians under Oliver Cromwell, while the university favoured the Royalist cause.

Oxford University and sports

Millions are watching the Oxford versus Cambridge annual Boat Race on television, but the competitiveness spills over into virtually every varsity sport, and matches against Cambridge are tense affairs. In addition to the traditional rugby, tennis, rowing, football etc, Oxford offers Octopush – a kind of underwater hockey – and Muggle Quidditch, minus the broomsticks and spells.

The dress code at Oxford University

Formal gowns are normally worn if you are going to see an Univeristy of Oxford official, during examinations and matriculation ceremonies. Certain halls organise official meals, and you should wear formal dress to attend.

Balls usually request white tie, whereas the many university parties held across the year are less specific.

And finally, what is Oxford University’s Mallard Song?

Back in the 15th century, when All Souls’ College was being built, legend has it that a giant mallard escaped from under the foundations. Every hundred years, a procession is formed to look for it. Fellows parade around with flaming torches, led by the so-called Lord Mallard and preceded by a wooden mallard tied to a stick. The Mallard Song is sung during this search – as well as at the college’s Gaudy (feast) and during the Bursar’s Dinner. And now you know!

I want to apply to Oxford University – what is the next step?

Get in touch with us here at Elab, so we can help you through the application process. Also, we provide you with advice and information on the colleges, the costs and what to expect at interview. Remember, the deadline for Oxford is 15 October. It does take time and effort to prepare an outstanding application, so do not leave it too late. Call or email us and let us start the process.