What do Lewis Carroll, Hugh Grant, Stephen Hawking, and 17th century philosopher John Locke all have in common? Each of them chose to study abroad in Oxford, a city that is world-renown for its academic excellence. The city boasts over a millennia of preserved buildings and traditions, including beautiful churches, libraries, and colleges, exemplifying England’s eclectic history. Successfully studying abroad in Oxford will require plenty of hard work, but an active arts community, lively pub scene, and numerous museums will provide plenty of opportunities for play too.
Studying Abroad in Oxford
The academic nature of Oxford provides students a wide variety of course options. While most opportunities to study abroad in Oxford revolve around science, social science, and fine arts, students will still have the chance to study nearly anything, from hospitality to philosophy.
The academic year is broken into three terms in England, which at the University of Oxford are referred to as Michaelmas (October to December), Hilary (January to March), and Trinity (April to June). However, opportunities to study abroad in Oxford extend into the summer as well, and each term has its own set of incredible benefits. For example, a full academic year studying abroad in Oxford will provide students with a truly English university experience, while a shorter, less strict summer program will give students the opportunity to spend more time outside exploring the city.
As one would expect, courses are taught in English in Oxford. However, English speakers should not be deceived. The class structure and expectations in Oxford will still be different. A high standard of academics is what helps Oxford maintain its incredible reputation and competitive environment.
Study abroad programs in Oxford sometimes utilize tutorial style of teaching, meaning students may frequently meet personally with their professors once or twice a week to receive new reading and writing assignments, as opposed to attending lecture style classes. Although professors’ expectations will be high if you study abroad in Oxford, the rewards of studying in a city as prestigious as Oxford will continue to permeate your professional and academic life well into the future.
Life in Oxford
Oxford provides a student experience unlike any other. If you are studying in Oxford through one of the numerous colleges housed under the umbrella of the University of Oxford, expect to spend a decent amount of time reading at the beautiful Bodleian Library. However, with over 30,000 students within the city who eventually need a break from all the reading and research, also expect plenty of clubs, activities, and festivities to fill your free time!
Oxford is a popular tourist destination in England, so the streets are almost always bustling with people from around the world. If you simply want to spend Saturday afternoon experiencing the busy city life, enjoying fantastic street-performances, and weaving your way through gigantic crowds on the main street to get to your favorite pub, Oxford will not disappoint! However, when you are ready for peace and quiet in the comfort of your room, you university dormitory will likely provide a pleasant and private retreat.
Culturally, Oxford is not as much of a shock as other areas of the world may be. If you enjoy a dense cultural and academic environment, you will feel at home studying abroad in Oxford. Oxford is a small enough town for people to get to their destination by bicycle and people do take advantage of that, so if you feel comfortable then consider using a bike to save money on transportation!
Scholarships & Costs
Program costs and the availability of scholarships for study abroad in Oxford varies depending on the provider. However, the cost of tuition in Oxford is highly competitive with tuition costs at U.S. universities. The University of Oxford itself does not offer scholarships for international students, but national and study abroad provider-exclusive scholarships may be available to students in need of financial assistance. Study abroad programs in Oxford typically cost between $15,000 and $20,000, which includes tuition costs, housing, and student insurance.
As far as daily expenses, there are definitely ways to save money while studying abroad in Oxford. To keep from going hungry, there are plenty of budget grocery stores both in and outside downtown, but remember to bring your own shopping bag; grocery stores in Oxford do not provide plastic bags! Transportation is incredibly efficient in Oxford, and biking is a very popular (and of course affordable) mode of transport. If biking isn’t your style or if it is a rainy day, the bus system is reliable, fairly cheap, and will take you anywhere from downtown to far outside the city. A 13-week unlimited pass for the Park & Ride city bus is under $200. Additionally, if you want to travel to London, buses run daily to and from the city, and the journey takes approximately an hour.
Accommodation & Visas
Students who study abroad in Oxford will be given a variety of housing options, including homestays, dormitories, and independent housing arrangements based on personal preferences. No matter what accommodation option students choose, they are sure to be immersed in the local culture while being surrounded by local and international students.
Students who are nationals of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland will not need a visa to study abroad in Oxford. Students who reside out of this area will need a Tier 4 General Student Visa in order to study in Oxford. Fortunately, visa application costs are often included in study abroad program fees. With an application limit of three months prior to the program start date, the visa application timeline is incredibly narrow, so being timely and responsive with correspondence is key. For more information, research online and contact a local British embassy, and your program provider or university will likely have suggestions for you too.
Benefits & Challenges
Studying in Oxford can be quite the challenge, but students will learn how to succeed in a competitive, self-starting professional world. The tutorial style of teaching, employed by the University of Oxford, is incredibly different than the more common lecture style of university teaching found in most parts of the world; it requires a great deal of self-motivation and initiative. However, this style will lead to a deeper, more elaborate understanding of the topics covered in your coursework. Learning takes place in the books rather than in the classroom, and there is an immense level of detail covered in text that simply cannot be covered during a lecture!
This concept sounds intense, but the University of Oxford and the Bodleian Library offer an abundance of resources, including hundreds of years of books and research materials, to help students succeed. Few colleges rival the amount of resources that Oxford has, and ALL resources are available to ALL students. No resource is exclusive to undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral students! Beyond the books, Oxford provides students a diverse and reputable study experience. The name “Oxford” is known around the world for sustained academic achievement. Immerse yourself in a town both rich in ornate history and progressive in academia!