Applying to Oxbridge

Firstly, what is Oxbridge?

Oxbridge is simply a combination of the words 'Oxford' and 'Cambridge'. It refers to the universities of Oxford and Cambridge (which are the oldest two universities in the UK). There is no actual university called 'Oxbridge' but you will hear the word used as shorthand for these two prestigious universities.

Which is the best: Oxford or Cambridge?

Both universities often top UK and global rankings. There is a healthy rivalry between the two institutions (as demonstrated in the annual Oxford-Cambridge boat race up the River Thames). Oxford is the older of the two universities (it was founded in 1096, making it the oldest university in English-speaking world). Cambridge was founded in 1209 (so it is still pretty ancient!)

Cambridge is often viewed as more 'science-focused' and Oxford more focused on arts, classics, politics and economics. But the truth is they are both considered excellent across all academic subjects. Whilst Cambridge is considered a leader in the biosciences and has attracted a cluster of leading biomedical and pharmaceutical companies around its campus, Oxford has taken the lead in research around vaccinations for Covid-19.

Of the UK's 55 prime ministers (to date) 28 have been educated at Oxford and 14 have been educated at Cambridge. A popular degree for those interested in a career in politics is Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE). This popular course is only offered at Oxford (although there are similar courses in Cambridge).

There are other course differences between the two institutions for example Oxford offers joint degrees whereas Cambridge doesn't. You should research the course options at each university well before deciding which university is right for you.

However, ultimately, both universities offer a very similar learning environment and deliver degrees which are renowned around the globe. So neither university is overall better than the other!

Is the application process the same?

Oxford and Cambridge have a slightly different application process to other UK universities. Applications for undergraduate study are still administered via UCAS however there are some differences:

  • You cannot apply to both Oxford and Cambridge (you must decide between either Oxford or Cambridge however you can apply to other 'non-oxbridge' universities in addition).
  • You apply to a particular college at either Oxford or Cambridge rather than the university itself.
  • The deadline and timescale for applications is different to other universities. The deadline is 15th October for those wanting to begin their studies in Autumn 2021 (and candidates are advised to begin working on their applications from June 2020)
  • The application process takes longer and can be very demanding: requiring interviews and aptitude tests.

How do I find out more and get support to apply to Oxford or Cambridge?

As an international student (or even a student from the UK) it can be difficult understanding the complexities of the Oxbridge application system. We recognise this and are happy to help guide you through the process with our team of experts, which includes students who have successfully been through the process themselves and have direct experience of living and studying at Oxbridge.

We offer a range of support to help you:

  • decide on suitable Oxbridge colleges
  • understand the application process
  • prepare a strong application
  • prepare for interviews
  • prepare for aptitude tests

If you think Oxbridge might be for you get in touch for an initial free call with our team and find out how we can help you.

Rachel Burgon
Co-Founder & CEO
Published on 5 May 2020