The amazing academic opportunities at Oxford mean that the University is consistently ranked among the top ten in the world. In 2015, Oxford was named the best University in Europe – but it isn’t just the University’s academic record that got us there. Excellent student satisfaction, world-leading quality of research, and high teaching standards are a strong testament to Oxford's dedication to its students. The University offers a wealth of provisions for supporting students in their academic studies and beyond.
The unique strength of Oxford’s academic excellence lies in its tutorial system. Tutorials are lessons with yourself, your tutor, and one or two other students, in which you discuss the essay or problem sheet that you'll have done that week. Quite often your tutors will have written the books they recommend in preparation for tutorials, so this system really allows you to get to grips with the topic you’re discussing! It may sound intimidating, but the opportunity to sit down with a leading academic helps hugely with understanding more difficult concepts and ideas. Plus, it’s pretty satisfying when your tutor tells you that you’ve made them think about their subject in a new way!
Resources: The National Student Survey (2015) named the University's libraries as the best in the UK, and with very good reason! Oxford is home to the Bodleian Libraries service, which boasts a copy of every book published in the UK, leaving you to use your books budget for something else! With almost one hundred faculty and college libraries, you can find your perfect study hole, from more sociable spots, to subterranean and silent spaces (see: the infamous Gladstone Link). An online search system makes looking for books super easy, and the availability of online books is perfect for days when your bed is more attractive than a desk. For learning beyond the library, students can get free entry to many of the city’s museums while scientists are well served by access to excellent laboratories.
Considered by many students to be Oxford's best asset, the college system organises the University into smaller communities of students and staff. Most students are very happy at whichever college they end up at, but there’s no denying that each college has its own particular character, whether that’s defined by its architecture, cheap and cheerful pubs, college songs, or pets! When you first arrive, the college community makes meeting people much less overwhelming, but it doesn't stop there! Your college will take you well beyond fresher's week and offer a support system in the wider university, from welfare to accommodation, throughout your degree.
Life after university probably seems a very long way off, but it’s worth considering how invaluable an Oxford degree can be in the job market. A recent survey found that within six months, 94 per cent of Oxford graduates are in work, doing further study, or taking some time out. Studying at Oxford sharpens critical thinking and time-management skills and equips students for a wide range of employment opportunities. Employers actively seek Oxford students through recruitment fairs and events, and the University’s careers service helps students find graduate jobs and internships in lots of different fields. The one-on-one advice offered by the Careers Service provides an opportunity to talk about the jobs that might suit you.
Despite common misconceptions of the University, there’s no typical Oxford student. Oxford attracts a wide range of people and personalities, and students from lots of different backgrounds come here to study. The wealth of societies and activities on offer attests to the active and vibrant nature of the student body; whatever your interests are, you’ll find like-minded people. Students are brought together by their talent and passion for their subject, and being around other interested students can cultivate yours strengths and skills as much as academic life itself.
From travel grants to an astonishing array of extra-curricular activities, Oxford offers the chance to develop your interests beyond your degree. Whether you want to row for the University, write for a student newspaper, or play at college open mic nights, Oxford is a brilliant place not just to work, but also to live – and that extends to the beautiful city itself. Below, you can hear accounts of just a few of the many opportunities available at Oxford, directly from students.
Oxford is an amazing place because of its tradition, but the tradition itself is optional. You can come here and be as ‘Oxford-y’ as you want, and you can definitely tailor your experience. Similarly, the emphasis on independent learning allows you to structure your work around your play so you can almost always get to that training session/drink with your mates. The tutorial system is an amazing and unparalleled way of learning, and the rapport and discussion with the world’s best academics is hugely rewarding (if sometimes mentally draining) activity and develops your critical skills and ability to structure a great argument.
Obviously there are stereotypes attached to the type of person that applies to Oxford, but once you get here you realise how far off the mark they are. There’s the odd super-genius, but in general everybody is a relatively ordinary person who just happens to be pretty intelligent! This means that — contrary to popular belief — you're allowed to come to Oxford and be normal. If you’re in two minds, it’s certainly worth putting it down on your UCAS – it's one choice out of five and an aspiration that benefits you whether or not you come.
I was so excited by the idea of studying the subject I loved with the absolute world experts in the field, and at Oxford, we have the opportunity to learn from the very best. One of the things I love most about the college teaching system is the close contact we have with our tutors; you really feel that they’re invested in you as a person, and it’s amazing how much confidence you build up within just a few tutorials. Oxford can and should be for absolutely everyone – from my first interview, I realised that the tutors cared less about how many books I’d read or how many facts I’d memorised, and more about my intellectual curiosity and my willingness to learn. If you love your subject and want to work hard at it, Oxford really is an incredible place to be.
Studying at Oxford is brilliant – there's no other word for it. My time here is shaped by discovering new dimensions to both my subjects and myself. It’s intense; it’s challenging; it’s exciting. No two days are the same, and no two essays alike. The experience is exhilarating. There are many great things about Oxford: the best libraries, stunning colleges, emphasis on welfare, serious kudos with employers…
But there’s one aspect really, truly beyond compare: the people. The tutors have read and written the books – but they want to know your opinion, and you can challenge, as much as be challenged by, international experts. Those on your course inspire you, showing you ways of thinking that you never knew existing. Even if your best friends study something completely different, they’re still amazingly insightful.
Very few in my family even considered university, but I’m so glad I did. I love it. There’s nowhere I’d rather be.
I hesitated a lot about choosing Oxford, but I’m so glad I did. I’d heard a lot of the stereotypes and I worried about the sort of environment it would offer, but I’m glad to say I was completely wrong! For me, one of the best things at Oxford is the collegiate system, which means that as well as being a part of the university as a whole, you also belong to your own college of a few hundred students. The tight-knit communities created within the colleges make the first term so welcoming and, compared to other universities, it's much easier to make friends who do different subjects or live in different buildings. Colleges are far from simply offering accommodation; they’re a centre for social events, societies, and brilliant welfare support systems. The colleges are just one of so many reasons that made choosing Oxford undoubtedly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!