At first glance, Oxford and Cambridge are similar to each other: both offer the highest quality of education, have a long history, carefully select students. The campuses of Oxford and Cambridge are attractive, have unique historical architecture, both cities stand on rivers. But any Oxbridge graduate will say that these elite universities are very different from each other. Since it is not possible to apply to Oxford and Cambridge at the same time, you will have to choose one of them.
Oxford vs Cambridge
- In the world ranking, Oxford and Cambridge go toe-to-toe: according to The Times, Oxford ranks first in the world, and Cambridge is second in general and in terms of research. Meanwhile, Cambridge ranks third in the world in terms of teaching, and Oxford is fifth. According to QS World University Rankings, Oxford ranked first in the world in anthropology, English language and literature, and Cambridge in anatomy, physiology. The Times placed Cambridge above Oxford in the natural and physical sciences, and Oxford surpassed Cambridge in the social sciences, business, and economics.
- Oxford has an establishment spirit – it has produced countless prime ministers and MPs (10 of the last 13, including David Cameron and Margaret Thatcher), and Cambridge – popular comedians, writers and satirists (Eric Idle, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Clive Anderson, Hugh Dennis). Cambridge is also known for its scientists - Newton, Darwin, David Attenborough. Cambridge has graduated with 90 Nobel Prize winners in science and Oxford with 55.
- One of the most prestigious degrees in the country – the Oxford PPE course (politics, philosophy, economics) – attracts those with political ambitions: many leading politicians have studied this course. And Cambridge offers a unique degree in natural sciences – a three-year course in which students start by studying several scientific disciplines and then move on to a narrower specialization.
- Oxford and Cambridge offer a wide range of traditional subjects including biological, physical sciences, geography, history, mathematics, medicine, English, classics, linguistics, law, engineering. At the same time, only Cambridge offers courses in architecture and veterinary medicine, and Oxford offers unique art and design courses.
- Oxford teaches science courses separately. Although it is possible to obtain a joint or interdisciplinary degree, for example, in the fields of biomedical sciences, biochemistry, mathematics and computer science, it is important to understand that these are all separate areas. For students who are sure what science they want to study, Oxford will become a more obvious choice as students will begin to study their chosen subject from day one. This is advantageous compared to the Cambridge system, as it allows students to fully immerse themselves in the study of the chosen discipline. At Cambridge, you study a wide range of natural sciences without any major specialization during the first year. The advantages of this approach are flexibility and the ability to get to know the subjects better before you start studying. For students whose academic interests cover a wide range of sciences, the system of natural sciences in Cambridge is suitable, where the specialization is chosen in the third year.
- Most Oxford undergraduate programs are 4 years long. The degree awarded depends on the course being studied: for example, 4-year bachelor's degree programs in physics lead to an MPhys degree, Earth Sciences to MEarthSci, etc. In Cambridge, the situation is different: most natural science students graduate after three years, the transition to the fourth year depends on the faculty.
- Each student of Oxford and Cambridge belongs to the university, his faculty and one of the 30+ colleges. Specialized faculties are responsible for the content of the course, basic studies, exams, awarding degrees. And college is a student home, a place where they eat, sleep, spend most of their free time. All Oxford colleges practice co-education, but in Cambridge there are three colleges exclusively for women. Both universities have several colleges for "mature students" accepting students strictly over the age of 21.
- Currently, entrance tests are required for most Oxbridge courses. Tutors of admission committees select applicants on the basis of student applications and test results.
- Cambridge requires applicants to take tests before an interview in about half of the courses; for example, students wishing to study mathematics (or computer science and mathematics) must pass an examination paper. In other subjects, Cambridge requires that a written test (at the interview) be taken during an interview at the university. Cambridge requires each undergraduate student to complete the SAQ questionnaire (optional questionnaire) shortly after applying for UCAS. If you are applying from outside the EU, for a diploma in medicine or for a scholarship, you will also need to complete the Cambridge Preliminary Online Application (COPA).
- Oxford does not require you to fill out any additional forms, however, for most courses, students are asked to take an entrance test as part of their application.