Oxford, University of


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Overall ranking: Ranked 2nd in the Complete University Guide, just behind Cambridge.

History: Over 900 years old, Oxford has no clear date of foundation. Teaching has existed there in some form since 1096 and developed rapidly from 1167, when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris. The oldest colleges - University, Balliol and Merton - were founded between 1249 and 1264. All Oxford's 38 colleges now admit both men and women.

Address: Spread across the city, its dreaming spires, meadows, quadrangles, chapels and museums have inspired writers from Chaucer to Iris Murdoch.

Ambience: The oldest and probably the most famous university in the English-speaking world, Oxford is a vast, sprawling institution. Lovely buildings date from every century.

Who's the boss? Professor Andrew Hamilton, formerly Provost of Yale.

Prospectus: 01865 288 000 or download one here.

UCAS code: O33

What you need to know

Easy to get into? Are you kidding? Entrance is based on conditional offers, usually no less than AAA at A-level. Some - mostly science - ask for A*AA. Then there's the interview to test whether or not you are 'Oxford material'. There are, on average, more than five applications per place. For more information on entry requirements, see here.

Vital statistics: Life centres around the 38 autonomous colleges where Oxford's 22,000 students live, socialise and are taught. There are 10,000 full-time staff and 12,000 undergraduates. Private school and southern students are perhaps over-represented but efforts are being made to change that. Oxford is one of 24 Russell Group universities, dedicated to the highest levels of academic excellence.

Added value: An Oxford degree opens doors to jobs. Its graduates face one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.

Teaching: Rated 14th out of 126 in the Complete University Guide for 2016 for student satisfaction.

Graduate prospects: Ranked 7th with 81.9% of graduates finding employment soon after graduation.

Any accommodation? College accommodation is readily available. University accommodation is provided by individual colleges – monthly rent can range from £464 and £596 per month, including bills. College bars are heavily subsidised, though.

Cheap to live there? Rent is a little above average, and is around £400 to £550 for a room in a shared house and more than £650 to live alone.

Transport links: On yer bike. Oxford is flat and small enough. Excellent bus and rail services to London.

Fees: Most full-time courses are £9,000 per year for undergrads starting in 2014. Students with a family income of less than £25,000 will receive significant fee waivers. Interested? See here.

Bursaries: There are bursaries of up to £3,250 available to students from low income families, with several scholarships up for grabs too. Oxford’s Moritz-Heyman Scholarships offer the most generous no-strings financial support for the poorest students of any university in the country.

The fun stuff

Nightlife: Cheap beer in college bars. Hit up Lava & Ignite on a Wednesday for their official student night Fubar or try Clementine's (affectionately termed Clem's) for an enticing range of tunes. For something a little more refined, consider exotic tiki bar Kukui. Comedy nights, plays and gigs fill the city's pubs if you fancy a touch of culture.

Price of a pint: You're looking at just over £4 on average, but head to a college bar for a much more tempting offer.

Sporting reputation: Good, currently 9th in the BUCS league.

Notable societies: Student media is excellent here while the Oxford Union invites brilliant speakers to partake in their world famous debates. Myths still surround the infamous Bullingdon Club, the elitist drinking society that once counted Boris Johnson, George Osborne and David Cameron among its members- does it still exist?

Glittering alumni: 26 British PMs including including our current one; at least 30 international leaders; 47 Nobel Prize winners; 7 current holders of the Order of Merit; at least 12 saints and 20 Archbishops of Canterbury; and some 50 Olympic medal winners; scientists Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking; a huge number of writers including Aldous Huxley, Lewis Carroll, JRR Tolkien, Evelyn Waugh, TS Eliot and CS Lewis; plus Hugh Grant, Nigella Lawson and Michael Palin.

Alternative prospectus: Head to The Student Room to put any burning questions to current Oxford students and chat to potential future friends.