The insides of Oxbridge for a foreign student

Although still pretty hard, Joining Oxbridge is more accessible than commonly imagined. Learn here whether about Oxbridge tutoring, admission and academic routine

For ordinary foreign pupils, students and their parents, the legendary British universities of Oxford and Cambridge usually seem to be something as fantastic as the Hogwarts School of Wizardry from the Harry Potter saga. But, in their opinion, in Oxbridge do study, only the brightest children of the English nobility – necessarily rich and brilliant, with their Oxbridge tuition fee always paid in advance.

That couldn’t be further from the truth – Oxbridge is incredibly diverse in its student roster, with a great variety of backgrounds. Indeed, to make you prepared for Oxbridge, tutors will have to work overtime (joke), but it is worth it – no matter where you are from, you will get to experience Oxbridge tutoring, and you will undoubtedly meet a bunch of think-alike pals to hang out with.

Thus, if you honestly dream of visiting the best university in the world, it’s worth giving it a shot. Check out this article to understand how Oxbridge admission, student, and academic life operates.

Selection criteria

For admission to Oxford or Cambridge at any level of education, grades close to the ideal are required. However, they are the key to your success, and you can work with the rest, so if you really want to get admitted to Oxbridge, a tutor in the discipline you’re lacking may be helpful. Be careful, though – Oxbridge is very picky when accepting the foreign high-school certificates, and even “foundation” programs that prepare foreign students for higher education in Britain may not suffice.

Thus, an international student who dreams of getting their first higher education at Oxbridge has two main options: either graduate from the International Baccalaureate (IB) program or pass the British A-levels exams. Alternatively, you can try getting into Oxbridge after first obtaining a degree in your local university – even if your alma mater is not highly prestigious.

Documents and entrant tests

Anyway, admission to any foreign university in a first world country is not an easy task, even more so in such a high-ranking institution like Oxford or Cambridge. The applicant will need a high average score and a well-prepared package of documents, which may include a resume, a motivation letter, and examples of written works.

Everything that needs to be sent can be prepared if you think about admission well in advance – even Oxbridge does not require the applicants to have an outstanding portfolio or experience participating in conferences. Oxbridge likes to conduct entrance tests in the form of interviews or tests, yet this is usually not an Olympiad-level task but a search for interesting, original personalities. The important thing is understanding the application process and how the admission committee thinks.

Living on a scholarship funds

The types of scholarships

The availability of scholarships for many students is a significant factor in choosing an educational institution. However, in Oxbridge, scholarships can be either in-house or external, provided by third parties. Intra-university (in-house) scholarships, for example, are most often aimed at a narrower audience: students of a specific country, a specific faculty, only for the most excellent students – or only for athletes, etc.

On the other hand, while external scholarships also have certain criteria, they are rarely limited to one university, faculty, or nationality. For example, the well-known British Chevening scholarship is open to applicants from more than 170 countries and allows students to apply to practically any British university.

Overall expenditure numbers

Suppose you plan to pay for tuition and accommodation on your own. In that case, you need to be prepared for significant expenses: a year of study at Oxbridge can cost from approximately £27,000 to £40,000, and accommodation can cost you from 9,525 (the minimum set by the British government) up to £15,000 for nine academic months, excluding summer holidays. Of course, though, the overall amount spent depends mainly on the personal appetites, habits and lifestyle. Nevertheless, the government minimum is widely considered entirely reasonable for modest student life.

Everything according to the rules

Academic schedule

Successful admission is not a finish but only the beginning. If you manage to become a student at Oxford or Cambridge, you need to be prepared for an intensive, albeit short, study. Bachelor’s programs in Oxbridge last three years; Master’s program – only one year. The academic year is divided into three equal parts of eight academic weeks: Michaelmas, Hilary and Trinity terms, between which there are month-size vacations.

In a year, you need to have time to successfully pass several subjects, perhaps even learn a new language to a certain level, write a term paper or dissertation, and at the same time just enjoy being a student and seeing a new country for yourself. Remember, though – holidays in Oxbridge are not holidays since many students stay at Oxford most of the time and continue to work because the examination session is not included in the academic trimester itself.

Adherence to traditions

Oxford is madly in love with its traditions and always adheres to them. The initiation rite takes place here in the ancient theatre, and the university president pronounces words in Latin. Students come in a special uniform: a white top, a black bottom (even tights or socks must be black), a mantle, the length of which depends on your degree, and an academic cap on the head.

Young people wear special bow ties/ties, and girls wear black ribbons tied around their necks. This uniform must also be worn for exams. Suppose your exam is an essay you wrote at home. In that case, you need to bring it to a particular building in a special envelope, designed according to specific standards, and attach a few more necessary pieces of paper.