The two oldest and most prestigious universities in the UK are the University of Cambridge (founded 1209) and the University of Oxford (founded so long ago that the date is lost, with the earliest records dating from 1086). They share a great deal of history, ethos and teaching philosophy, and are therefore often referred to collectively as ‘Oxbridge’, though there’s no formal tie between the two universities.
Entry to both universities is fiercely competitive, and for good reason. Though other universities stand out in certain subjects, Oxford and Cambridge are consistently the best universities in the country across measures like research quality, degree completion and employment prospects. 28 of Britain’s 55 Prime Ministers to date were educated at Oxford and 14 at Cambridge; Cambridge staff and graduates have won 107 Nobel Prizes – more than France and Japan put together.
Oxford and Cambridge achieve these results through a combination of considerable investment, teaching staff and researchers who are second-to-none, and a unique approach to teaching. Undergraduates at Oxford and Cambridge spend an hour a week in a tutorial (Oxford) or seminar (Cambridge) discussing their work, typically an essay, in a one-to-one or one-to-two session with an expert in their field. If you want to be challenged to think on your feet and explore your subject in depth, this highly intensive teaching method is perhaps the best way to do it.
Even if Oxford and Cambridge aren’t top of the league tables for your subject of choice, it can be worth considering them. More so than any other British university, their names are globally recognisable as a marker of an outstanding education. Going to Oxbridge, you’ll also make connections with people that could prove invaluable for your future career.
It’s not just in academics that Oxford and Cambridge excel. Looking at fields from sport to music, light entertainment to theatre, there are Oxbridge graduates among the highest fliers everywhere. At Oxford and Cambridge you’ll find outstanding facilities to pursue your hobby and dedicated people to join you, whether that’s in stand-up comedy, rowing or political activism.
The process of being accepted to Oxford or Cambridge is tough: you’ll need to get top grades, and go through a challenging interview process. Only about one in five applicants get in. But if you succeed, it’s an educational opportunity like no other, giving you a degree that will open doors for the rest of your life.