What is a college and how is it different from a department?
Oxford is a collegiate university. This means that, although it is a large, world-class university, each student is part of a small, supportive college community. At the University of Oxford everyone, from professors to students, belongs to a college. There are over 30 colleges located across the city of Oxford which admit undergraduates, each with between about 250 and 450 students studying a whole range of courses. Your college is where you live, eat, work, and receive the core of your teaching in regular tutorials. You also belong to your subject’s department. Here you meet students on your course from other colleges in lectures, classes, or laboratory work; and it is your department which decides on the content of degree courses, and sets and marks the end of year examinations. The colleges, departments, Bodleian libraries and museums make up the University of Oxford.
Do I have to choose a college?
You can’t choose a college, though you can express a preference by entering a college campus code on your UCAS application. Your application may be passed to another college at some point in the process to make sure that the spread of good applicants per college is fair. You don’t have to express a college preference; instead you can make an open application, which about 20% of candidates do each year. You’ll then be allocated to a college.
What does it mean to make an open application?
When applying to the University of Oxford you can state a preference for a college. If you are unsure what college you’d like to go to, you can make an open application and we will choose for you. Your application is not stronger or weaker by making an open application or choosing a college.
How do I choose a college preference?
Deciding which college to make your preference is a personal matter; however, colleges have more in common than they have differences and, whichever college you go to, your course will be the same because the course content is set by the subject department. When choosing a college to express a preference for in your application, you may like to consider what facilities it has, such as a gym or music practice rooms, as well as the location, for example, would you like to be near the river, near the University Sports Complex, or based away from the busy high street.
Which is the easiest college to get into?
There is no easy to college to get into! As a collegiate university, we all follow the same rules and procedures. If you state a preference on your UCAS form for a particular college you may not even be interviewed there.
Do colleges specialise in different courses?
Not all colleges admit for all courses; however, this does not mean any one college is a specialist in a given subject. To find out which colleges admit which courses, have a look through the university’s prospectus or college websites.
How do I pick a course to study?
There are lots of different courses to study and to choose from. A good place to start is to think about what you really enjoy studying at the moment; remember, you’re going to be studying this subject in depth for three years or more.
Do all colleges have the same entrance requirements?
All colleges follow the same admissions process, and use the same selection criteria and entrance requirements as outlined on the University website.
If I receive an offer will it definitely be from the college I applied to?
If you choose to specify a college preference in your application, other colleges may interview you and any of them may offer you a place.
Does college choice affect my chances of getting a place?
Departments oversee the application process for their subject(s) to ensure that the best candidates have the best possible chance of obtaining a place. This is why your application may be passed to another college at some point in the application process.
Do you accept mature students?
Mature students can apply to any college or Permanent Private Hall (PPH). One college, Harris Manchester, and one of the PPHs, Wycliffe Hall, take mature students only.
Can I apply for deferred entry?
The College is generally happy to consider applications from students who wish to defer entry for a year; however, we do not consider deferred entry for Medicine. If you apply for deferred entry, you are asking the tutors to compare you with an as-yet-unknown future cohort, and so you will need to be especially competitive. If you choose to wait and apply for direct entry, then you will need to be especially careful to make sure that you keep up your academic interests and reading. Once offered a place for a particular year, you cannot change the start year, unless you have extenuating circumstances which will need to be discussed with the college.
Can I change my course once I have been made an offer?
Each course has their own quotas of places for each year so once you have received your offer, you cannot change your course.
Can I transfer over from another university?
The University of Oxford does not accept credits or transfer students from other universities.
Can I reapply if I am not successful?
Every application to Oxford is treated on its own merits, without regard to any previous applications, so there is no inherent disadvantage in having applied before. If you would like to apply again, you are most welcome to do so, although you may like to apply to a different college. We do first recommend that you ask for feedback from the college which dealt with your application last year and consider the reasons why you were not successful.
Please note that you will need to complete the full application process again, including sitting any admissions test(s) and submitting any written work required for your chosen course. For full details of how to apply, please see the guide for applicants.
Can I apply for an undergraduate degree course if I am already studying at another UK university?
Oxford University does not accept transfer students. If you wish to follow an undergraduate course here, then you would need to start the course from the beginning. However, this option is not available if you are currently enrolled on a Medicine course elsewhere and wish to apply to study Medicine at Oxford.
If you are currently studying at a UK university and are thinking of applying to Oxford to start the first year of an undergraduate course, please note that normally we will only consider such applications in exceptional circumstances and you should make very clear in your application why you do not wish to continue on your current course. Please note we are not able to give examples of these exceptional circumstances as applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
If you do decide to apply whilst at another university and you do not have A-level or equivalent qualifications at the grades required for the standard offer for the course you are interested in applying for, you will need to demonstrate how your subsequent study has prepared you for studying at Oxford, including any evidence of your performance on your current course, as well as a reference from your current tutor or equivalent. You must declare on your UCAS form whether you are currently studying at another university, and that failure to do so could result in Oxford withdrawing any offer made to you.
Please also remember that not only will you incur a year of additional costs but your eligibility for government support or loans may be affected by any study you have already undertaken, whether or not you have completed your course.
Will my GCSEs (or equivalent) be taken into account?
We consider GCSE grades, but we where possible we look at these in the context of your school. This means that your grades should show whether you have done particularly well when compared to others in your school. If there’s a good reason why you didn’t get top grades (e.g. serious illness, difficult family circumstances, or disruption at school), if this has been declared on your application, we will take this into account when considering your application. Your teachers should let us know about anything like this via the reference they write for you as part of your UCAS application.
I don’t have any predicted grades, what should I do?
Unfortunately, predicted grades or scores are a crucial part of your application, and we cannot consider your application without them. Candidates without predicted grades available would be advised to apply once they have received their grades.
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