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What it's like to study at Oxford: the most important things to know

 you have to keep in mind that no university life is perfect and weigh up and dwell on the pros and cons of studying at this famous institution and living in the city of Oxford.

Oxford University is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. Its roots can be traced back to the 11th century, and it has since grown to become a leading centre of academic excellence and research. To many aspiring and ambitious students, Oxford embodies the true academic dream and the possibility of joining the ranks of many notable, famous people in different areas of life - from politics to science.

However, before deciding to apply to this fiercely competitive university (only about 17% of Oxford applicants, on average, are successfully admitted to undergraduate courses), you have to keep in mind that no university life is perfect and weigh up and dwell on the pros and cons of studying at this famous institution and living in the city of Oxford.

Here are some things to consider:

The pros and cons of living in Oxford

Oxford is a perfect city for young people from all over the world. In fact, students from all walks of life make up almost a quarter of its population - 40,000 people, which makes it particularly fun, vibrant and diverse.

Oxford is famous for its beautiful architecture, parks, museums, galleries, and legendary pubs. In addition to being a safe city, it has a lot to offer when it comes to history, cultural attractions, nightlife, and food - from jazz nights and plays to many exciting places nearby to visit, such as Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare, the picturesque Cotswolds, and Blenheim Palace, William Churchill’s family home.

Another great thing about Oxford is that it holds the title of the UK's most walkable city - it is relatively compact and a delight to explore on foot. And although Oxford has excellent bus and train services, if you need to travel a longer distance, it will be a breeze to get around the city by cycling like many locals do.

Living in Oxford has its downsides as well.

First of all, it's one of England's most famous cities, and it gets regularly inundated with tourists. According to Oxford City Council's statistics, the city attracts a whopping 7 million visitors a year. As a result, it becomes so crowded that even simple things such as getting groceries or going to the library can easily turn into a challenge.

Another important downside is the living expenses. Although it's easier to save on essentials such as accommodation, food and clothing if you are a student, Oxford is considered to be one of the most expensive cities for students in the world for a reason.

How do Oxford University students study?

Oxford prides itself on the so-called tutorials – conversations, normally between two or three students and their tutor, who is an expert on that topic. Thanks to the tutorial system that sets Oxford apart from other universities students can regularly get individualised teaching and in-depth feedback on their work (for example, essays that they write throughout the week). It establishes a supportive and beneficial relationship between a tutor and a student, which allows one to grow and thrive academically.

Oxford is also famous for its challenging and intensive study programmes. Students are expected to work hard each week, hand in a lot of assignments and juggle their studies with other activities such as sports and debating.

How much does it cost to study at Oxford University?

Course fees will vary depending on your programme of study, but, on average, all undergraduate courses starting in 2024 will cost between £33,050 and £48,620 per year for international students. When it comes to the living costs, Oxford estimates that an average student would spend between £1,345 and £1,955 per month.

Students can live in one of Oxford's colleges (there are over 30 of them!) for the first year and for at least one other year of their course. Some colleges offer rooms for the whole course as well. On average, prices vary between £745 and £925 per month, which equates to between £6,705 and £8,325 per year.

Each college has its own living and learning facilities, such as libraries, laboratories, dining halls, bars, gyms and laundry rooms.

Living expenses also include personal items, social activities, and study costs (for example, textbooks and stationery). At the same time, one of the biggest pros of Oxford University is that it offers students plenty of study resources for free and provides generous financial assistance that covers many of the costs.

Does Oxford offer funding or scholarships to international students?

Yes – Oxford runs a number of non-repayable bursaries and scholarship programmes for international students.

For example, Palgrave Brown Scholarship is aimed specifically at overseas students who don’t have the funds needed. It's an annual grant of at least £14,085 that covers the living costs of students from a number of European countries, including Ukraine, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Belarus. It's awarded primarily on the basis of financial need, but academic merit is also taken into consideration.

Want to know more about what it's like to study as an international student in the UK and how to become one? LEO International Online School offers a diverse and intensive two–year A-Level programme designed to prepare students for entry to universities in the United Kingdom. Learn more about this programme and our other courses here, and don't hesitate to contact us at

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