Why Study at Oxford?

The University of Oxford is one of the oldest and best universities in the world. Located in Oxfordshire, England, Oxford is considered the best university in the UK by many national league tables, and offers both undergraduate and postgraduate students access to first-class researchers, facilities, and educational resources.

There are many reasons why students choose to study at Oxford. This guide rounds up five of the top reasons you should consider Oxford when making your university choices.

1. Academic reputation

Oxford is one of the most well-known and academically prestigious universities. It is also one of the world’s oldest universities and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Since its founding over 900 years ago, Oxford has built an esteemed academic reputation and now houses top researchers in a wide range of fields.

League table rankings

Oxford is one of the most consistently high-ranking universities in the world, regularly coming in first or second across a range of global and national league tables. It is currently ranked:

Research excellence

As well as ranking highly in league tables, Oxford is also one of the world’s top research universities and is famous for its research excellence and innovation. Its research was ranked first in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023 and had the highest volume of ‘world-leading’ research of any UK institution in the latest Research Excellence Framework (2021).

2. Range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses

Oxford offers a wide range of courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Some of its courses are offered by only a handful of institutions or, in some cases, exclusively at Oxford. These include PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) at undergraduate level and Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) at postgraduate level.

Undergraduate

Oxford offers more than 50 different courses at undergraduate level covering a huge range of disciplines and subject combinations. Its entry requirements typically range from A*A*A to AAA at A level (equivalent qualifications are also accepted), depending on the course. Each of its courses is tailored to provide the most up-to-date and globally relevant knowledge delivered by top academics in the field.

See Oxford’s full list of undergraduate courses on its website.

Top tip: If you’re trying to decide whether to apply for Oxford or Cambridge, there are a number of factors to consider. For example, looking at the entry requirements for your chosen course can help you to decide where is best suited to you based on your predicted A level grades (or equivalent). Oxford typically sets its entry requirements one grade lower than Cambridge’s (usually AAA versus A*AA), so if you aren’t predicted any A*s, Oxford may be the better choice. For more tips on choosing between Oxford and Cambridge, watch our helpful YouTube video or read our guide to choosing a course based on statistics.

Postgraduate

Oxford’s graduate school is a large, thriving community of researchers and postgraduate students. There are over 13,000 graduate students at Oxford who form half of the university’s overall student population. Its course offering is just as vast, with more than 350 different Master’s and Doctoral level programmes in subjects ranging from Bible Interpretation to Experimental Psychology.

See Oxford’s full list of graduate courses and their entry requirements on its website.

3. Top facilities

Oxford’s undergraduate and postgraduate students have access to the very best resources and facilities. These include:

  • Cutting-edge experimental laboratories, including the Beecroft Building, a state-of-the-art lab and teaching facility for experimental and theoretical Physics, and the Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Information and Discovery;
  • Digital resources, including SOLO, the university’s main search engine for library collections, and the Oxford Research Archive (ORA), the university’s digital repository, which holds more than 225,000 works including datasets;
  • Over 100 libraries, including the Bodleian Libraries, one of the oldest libraries in Europe and the largest library system in the UK;
  • World-famous museums and collections, including the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum, the History of Science Museum and the Oxford Museum of Natural History.

4. Student life

Oxford University is located in the city of Oxford, where its colleges and buildings are spread across the city centre. The city offers a unique mix of historic architecture and modern facilities, as well as plenty of places for students to study, relax, and socialise. Oxford is also less than an hour away from London by train, making it an extremely convenient and well-connected place to live as a student.

Within Oxford University itself, there are also countless ways to make the most of your time as a student and enjoy your free time. The university has more than 400 clubs and societies, opportunities to partake in campaigning and volunteering, and its own student newspapers and magazines. Whatever your interests, talents and career goals, there will almost certainly be opportunities to pursue them at Oxford.

Oxford also has one of the lowest drop-out rates of any university in the UK. According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, only 0.9% of Oxford students dropped out in the 2019/20 academic year, compared to the UK average of 5.3%. This suggests that students are satisfied with multiple aspects of their university experience, including their life outside of studying.

Financial support

Students at Oxford are not permitted to work alongside studying; due to this policy, Oxford University offers one of the most generous financial support packages for UK undergraduate students from low-income backgrounds. For example, Oxford Bursaries of between £3,200 and £500 are provided to eligible undergraduates from the lowest-income families every year. There is also a range of financial support available at postgraduate level, with up to 1,000 full and partial scholarships available for new postgraduate students in 2021.

5. Work opportunities and job prospects

Thanks to its outstanding reputation, Oxford is one of the most well-known and respected universities in the world amongst employers and contributes around £15.7 billion to the UK economy. In 2021-22, Oxford was the tenth most targeted university by top employers (High Fliers Research), and the university has links to a range of top organisations and industries both in the UK and globally.

As a result of this reputation among employers and the skills and links built while at Oxford, more than 91% of Oxford leavers are employed or in further study six months after graduating. According to research from Ezra, Oxford also produces the best-paid graduates in the UK. Oxford graduates earn an average of £34,802 within five years of leaving university – 45% more than the average UK graduate salary of £24,000. The average annual salary of postgraduates is also higher than average at around £41,600.

How to get into Oxford

There are many reasons to study at the University of Oxford, and that’s why thousands of top students aspire to apply there. However, knowing you want to apply is just the first step; knowing how to meet the entry requirements and write a stand-out application is the most important part.

That’s where The Profs can help. Our network of expert Oxbridge admissions tutors can provide you with tailored support on how to maximise your chances of receiving an offer for your chosen Oxford course. In fact, 55% of Oxbridge applicants who work with us receive an offer, which is more than three times the average Oxbridge acceptance rate of 15%.

To read more about how to get into Oxford and learn top tips from The Profs’ application experts, read our helpful Oxford application guide. To talk to a member of our team and access the support of one of our highly qualified tutors, complete the contact form at the bottom of this page.

FAQs

How old is Oxford University?

The University of Oxford was founded around 1096. Its first colleges, University, Balliol and Merton, were founded between 1249 and 1264. Oxford is one of the world’s oldest universities and the oldest in the English-speaking world.

Where is Oxford University?

Oxford University is located in the city of Oxford. Its colleges and buildings are spread across Oxford city centre. Oxford sits in the county of Oxfordshire, about 83 kilometres west of London in the South of England. It is less than an hour away from London by train.

Does Oxford give contextual offers?

Oxford University does not make systematic contextual offers, but it does look at contextual data when considering applicants to ensure that it is offering places to the candidates with the highest potential, regardless of background. The proportion of students attending Oxford who come from socio-economically disadvantaged areas has risen from 8.2% to 15.9% in the past 5 years. You can find more information on how Oxford uses contextual data here.

How much is Oxford University?

Tuition fees for undergraduate courses for UK students are £9,250 per year at Oxford. Undergraduate tuition fees for international students range from £28,950 to £44,240 per year depending on the course. Students should also consider other costs associated with studying at university, including accommodation, transport, food and other personal costs. Oxford estimates that students should allow between £1,290 and £1,840 per month for living costs.

What is Oxford University known for?

The University of Oxford is known for its excellent academic reputation and its long-standing traditions as the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Oxford is also widely known as one of the best and most competitive universities in the world. It dominates the UK and world league tables, currently ranking first in the Complete University Guide and fourth in the QS World University Rankings.

Can you visit Oxford University?

You can visit many colleges, museums and libraries at the University of Oxford during their opening hours. All museums are free to visit, as well as some colleges. Some colleges do charge visitors a small entry fee, ranging from £2 to £16 per adult.

How many colleges at Oxford University?

Oxford University has 44 colleges, including 5 permanent private halls (PPHs), which were founded by various Christian denominations. Each college has its own character, traditions and buildings, and are located in different areas of the city of Oxford. Some colleges only offer a selection of courses, so it’s important to research colleges carefully before applying for Oxford.

Is Oxford University older than Cambridge?

Oxford University is just over a century older than Cambridge University. Oxford was founded around 1096 while Cambridge was founded in 1209. Both universities have a long history of providing quality education and producing world-leading research.