How To Choose An Oxbridge College

Choosing Oxbridge College: Insights From Students & Alumni

Choosing the right Oxbridge College is an essential aspect of the Oxford and Cambridge application process. With over 60 Oxbridge colleges to choose from, selecting one that fits your academic and personal needs can be overwhelming. 

However, the college you choose can significantly impact your time at Oxford or Cambridge. Each college has its unique culture, facilities, and traditions that contribute to a student’s overall experience. 

In this guide, we will explore how to choose an Oxbridge college that suits you. This guide is made with the help of some of the best Oxbridge grads. 

What is Oxbridge?

Oxbridge is a term used to refer to two of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the United Kingdom: the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge

The term “Oxbridge” is a combination of the two universities’ names, Oxford and Cambridge.

These universities are known for their academic excellence, rich history, and tradition. They are consistently ranked among the top universities in the world and attract students from all over the world. 

The universities offer a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programmes in various disciplines, and their graduates are highly sought after by employers in various industries. 

The term Oxbridge is often used interchangeably with the term “elite universities” or “Ivy League” in the United States.

Oxbridge universities are part of the Russell Group universities.

How To Choose An Oxbridge College


The first step to choosing an Oxbridge college is research. 

We advise you to start online research. As part of our guides, we recommend the following for reading:

Research can offer numerous benefits, including the ability to connect with alumni through student forums and receive valuable feedback. Attending open days at colleges, Virtual Tour, or speaking with your school’s career counsellor can also provide valuable insights into the experiences of alumni at different colleges. These opportunities can help you make informed decisions about your academic and professional future.

Academic strength

The academic strength of Oxbridge college is an essential factor to consider. Oxford and Cambridge are renowned for their academic excellence, and each college has its area of expertise. 

Some colleges may excel in specific subjects, while others may not have a strong academic reputation in those fields. Therefore, it’s crucial to research the academic departments of each college to ensure they offer the subjects you want to study.

For example, Downing College is considered one of the best Cambridge colleges for law, and a law was always one of the principal courses. 

Location is important

Location is another critical factor to consider when choosing an Oxbridge college. Some colleges may be situated in the city centre, while others may be further away. Oxford and Cambridge are not huge towns, but if you are close to the most important things for you, It can have many benefits.

Consider your preferences, such as whether you want to be close to the city’s hustle and bustle or in a quieter area. 

Moreover, the location of your Oxbridge college can also affect your access to resources such as libraries, research centres, and extracurricular activities.


Accommodation is an essential aspect of the college experience. It is! Many Oxbridge grads and alumni will confirm this. 

Each college has its accommodation facilities, ranging from traditional dormitories to modern apartments. Some colleges may offer single rooms, while others may have shared accommodation. It’s essential to research the accommodation options available at each college and their cost to ensure they fit your preferences and budget.

Extracurricular activities

Engaging in extracurricular activities is an important part of your student life at Oxford or Cambridge. Also, can lead to a better overall experience studying at Cambridge University or Oxford University. 

Each college has its clubs and societies that cater to various interests. Some colleges may have a strong sports culture, while others may focus on the arts or community service. It’s crucial to research the extracurricular activities available at each college and their frequency to ensure they fit your interests and availability.

College size

The size of a college is another important factor to consider when choosing Oxbridge college. Oxford and Cambridge have different approaches to studying. Probably your course will have between 8 to 16 students. College sizes are from 200 to 500 students. 

The size of your college can impact your social life and academic experience. Larger colleges may offer a broader range of extracurricular activities and facilities, while smaller colleges may have a more intimate and tight-knit community. 

For example, Peterhouse college is the smallest at Cambridge with around 80 undergraduate students per year. This means you will be more intimate with colleagues, fellows, and mentors.

College culture

Each college has its unique culture, traditions, and atmosphere that contribute to the Oxbridge experience. Some colleges may be more traditional with structured knowledge, while others may be more modern and progressive with a focus on innovation. 

It’s crucial to understand the culture of each college to ensure it aligns with your personality and preferences. 

Moreover, the culture of your college can impact your social life, academic experience, studying, networking, and overall well-being. 

Student support

The student support available at each college is an essential factor to consider. Each college has its welfare team, including tutors, counsellors, and healthcare professionals, who support students during their time at Oxbridge. It’s essential to research the student support available at each college to ensure they can cater to your needs, whether it be academic or personal.

College rankings

Oxbridge colleges are ranked based on Tompkins and Norrington tables. Cambridge colleges are ranked on the Tompkins table, and Oxford colleges are ranked on the Norrington table

Checkout latest rankings here:


Access for disabled students is provided in most colleges through accommodations and facilities. Nevertheless, due to the antiquity of some of the buildings, specific locations within certain colleges may pose difficulties for students with mobility impairments. It’s important to research and contact the college directly regarding access. 

College fees

Tuition fees for Oxbridge colleges are very high. For undergraduate studies, you can expect to pay around £9,250 for the first year. The second and Third years have higher fees and for each college different tuition fees. All these apply to home students (UK residents). 

International students will need to pay from £24,507 to £44,240 per year.


Both Oxford and Cambridge Universities offer various forms of financial funding to their students. 

At Oxford, every student is automatically considered for a range of scholarships and bursaries based on their financial need and academic merit. In addition, each of Oxford’s colleges has its endowment and may offer additional grants and scholarships to students. 

At Cambridge, financial support is also available in the form of grants, bursaries, and scholarships, which are awarded based on a combination of academic merit and financial need. 

Oxbridge colleges offer a wide range of funding options, from small travel grants to full scholarships that cover tuition fees and living expenses. Students are encouraged to research and apply for any funding opportunities that they may be eligible for, to help make their studies more affordable. 

Personal preferences

Personal preferences should also be considered when choosing Oxbridge college. Each student is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Therefore, it’s crucial to consider your personal preferences and interests, such as your preferred learning style, social atmosphere, and lifestyle. 

Choosing a college at Oxbridge that aligns with your preferences can help you enjoy your time at Oxford and Cambridge and make the most of your experience.

Internet costs

Internet access is an important consideration for students when choosing a college to attend, and the cost of internet access can vary between different colleges. 

Some colleges, such as Churchill, Corpus, Downing, Emmanuel, and others, include free internet in their termly facility fees/rent. 

Other, like Girton, Gonville and Caius, Homerton, Hughes Hall, Jesus, Pembroke, Peterhouse, Queens’, Robinson, St Catharine’s, Trinity, and Trinity Hall also offer free internet access but with a usage limit of up to 100GB, after which students are charged £0.33 per GB. 

Some colleges have a fixed charge per term, such as Christ’s (£15 per term), Clare (£33), Murray Edwards (£24.54), Selwyn (£35.00), Sidney Sussex (£10), St Edmund’s (£13.33), St John’s (£20), and Wolfson (£15). 

Magdalene charges £2.75 per week, while Darwin and Christ’s charge a flat rate of £45 per year for internet access. However, Clare Hall charges for all data used at a rate of £1 per GB.

Recommended for reading:

Open application to Oxbridge Colleges

If you are applying to study at Oxford or Cambridge, and don’t want to choose a particular college, you can apply with an Open application

The first choice that you need to make is whether to make an open application or to choose Oxbridge college yourself. 

If you choose an open application, the admissions board will assign you to a college, and this college may be statistically less oversubscribed or less popular. However, this does not mean that college is not good, and you should keep an open mind about your college life.

If you decide to choose a college yourself, it’s essential to narrow down your options to a shortlist of colleges that you would like to apply to. 

It’s also essential to keep in mind that college life is a unique aspect of Oxbridge, and each college has its traditions, culture, and atmosphere.

How hard is it to get into Oxbridge College?

Getting into Oxbridge, which refers to the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge, is considered very challenging due to the institutions’ high academic standards and intense competition.

Both universities have very selective admission processes with low acceptance rates, that involve rigorous academic requirements, including high grades, impressive standardised test scores, interviews and outstanding academic achievements. 

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Additionally, candidates are usually expected to have strong extracurricular activities, excellent letters of recommendation, and a compelling Oxbridge personal statement.

However, it is essential to note that admission to Oxbridge is not solely based on academic qualifications. The institutions also consider applicants’ potential, intellectual curiosity, and willingness to challenge themselves, among other factors. 

Therefore, candidates are encouraged to showcase their unique qualities and strengths throughout their application.

Ultimately, the difficulty of getting into Oxford and Cambridge depends on the individual’s academic abilities, extracurricular accomplishments, and overall application package. It is essential to prepare thoroughly and understand the admission requirements and expectations of each college before applying.

Final Thoughts

Choosing an Oxbridge college is an important decision that can impact your academic and personal life and overall student experience.

There are many colleges to choose from, and each has its unique culture, academic strength, extracurricular activities, and facilities. 

Therefore, it’s essential to research and considers various factors when choosing a college, such as academic strength, location, accommodation, extracurricular activities, college size, culture, student support, tuition fees, and personal interests. 

By doing so, you can choose a college that fits your needs and helps you make the most of your life at Oxford or Cambridge University.