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College System

Oxford and Cambridge have a college system that sets them apart from most other UK universities. There are more than 40 colleges at Oxford and 30 at Cambridge and they are each self-governing, with their own property and resources and financial endowments. Other universities also have a collegiate system, but Oxford and Cambridge are unique in that every college has its own academic staff which means, depending on the subject, that students are taught in their colleges.

When students apply to Oxbridge they usually choose a particular college. The colleges themselves are mainly attractive, historically interesting buildings which contain all the amenities and resources that are required for students and staff. They have their own accommodation, dining rooms, bars, common rooms, libraries and IT centres.

The colleges have both undergraduates and postgraduates usually numbering between 300 to 500 students. All colleges at Oxford are co-educational whereas at Cambridge there are three colleges that are all female, (Murray Edwards College, Newnham College and Lucy Cavendish College). Students should ensure that they check carefully when making applications to Oxbridge colleges that the subject they require is offered by the college they are choosing.

To get the lowdown on the colleges, you should also read the 'Alternative Prospectus'. This is written by the students themselves in each college and has information you will not find in a regular prospectus. To read this click here.

If you are thinking about applying to Oxford or Cambridge then use our comprehensive advice service to get the help you need.