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Cambridge University vs. Oxford University: Which one would you choose?
2nd May, 2024

Cambridge University vs. Oxford University: Which one would you choose?

It's always academics, professors, and students arguing over who is the best between the two leading universities in the world: the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford, also known as the "Oxbridge" dispute. The history, the quality of faculty, and the alumni list are quite distinguished for both of these universities. In this article, there will be an in-depth analysis of the smaller differences, individual features, and learning environments that lie between Cambridge and Oxford Universities.




Founded between the tenth and thirteenth centuries, Cambridge and Oxford are among the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world.

The University of Oxford was founded in 1096, and the University of Cambridge in 1209. Both universities have a long history of incredible ties to Western educational development.

The Higher Education System


The college structure is one of the two universities' unique characteristics. Cambridge University students gain a sense of community and belonging by participating in the institution’s many colleges. The University of Oxford has a similar system where students attend the main campus but are affiliated with a specific college.


Curriculum and Adaptation


Both universities offer undergraduate and graduate courses in many fields. However, their curriculum is slightly different. Generally, Oxford includes more courses in its programmes, while Cambridge places slightly more emphasis on exams.


Oxford vs Cambridge: Explaining Learning Differences

Course length and intensity

The academic year at Oxford and Cambridge is generally long; Oxford’s time is ten weeks, while Cambridge’s is eight weeks. These differences can influence the amount of learning and the pace of learning of a student.

Instruction and coordination

As part of the Cambridge "supervision" approach, students receive individualised instruction from faculty members in seminars. Oxford, on the other hand, employs a "study" methodology and provides one-on-one or small-group training. The differences in terminology reflect subtle variations in how educational assistance is delivered to individuals.




Although both colleges excel in research, they may differ in terms of emphasis. Cambridge is becoming more scientific in many ways because of the increased emphasis on research, especially in the sciences. Known for its cutting-edge approach, Oxford demonstrates excellence in the humanities and sciences.


Oxford University vs. Cambridge University: Student Life and Culture

Campus Architecture and Ambience


Each university has its own distinct appeal, which is further enhanced by the campus atmosphere and architectural design. Oxford has a timeless beauty with its dreamy spires and lovely colleges. Cambridge also has beautiful architecture and serene views of the river, which contribute to the city's perfect academic atmosphere.


After-school activities


There are many extracurricular activities on both campuses, including sports, arts, and clubs. One popular event that perfectly illustrates the long-standing rivalry between the two universities is the yacht race, which pits the Oxford and Cambridge rowing teams against each other.

Ritual and social life


Oxford and Cambridge have unique traditions, such as formal hall dinners and May Ball celebrations. Before choosing whether or not to enrol, prospective students should probably spend more time learning about the customs and social structure of each university.


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Cambridge vs. Oxford: Which one would you rather choose

Location and lifestyle

The lifestyle and location of the Oxford and Cambridge universities greatly affect the overall experience of the students. The towns of Cambridge and Oxford are relatively small, walkable towns. River Cam and Cambridge's vast design perfectly reflect the city's beautiful scenery. Cambridge's coastal plain is low-lying and level. London is 58 miles from Cambridge and takes approximately one hour by train.

Oxford is a city steep in the landscape, but its busy city centre makes seeing historic sites easy. From London, Oxford is 52 miles away and takes about an hour by train. Oxford tends to feel livelier and a bit more substantial than Cambridge.

Communication and peer reputation

Each university’s reputation influences communications and potential future career prospects. An impressive list of graduates from both universities have made significant contributions in disciplines including science, politics, literature and the arts

Global Recognition

The widespread international reputation of Oxford and Cambridge makes the decision-making process more difficult. When students consider their options after graduation, their university’s global standing comes into play in many ways.

Oxford vs Cambridge: Subjects Offered

Oxford University

Academically, Oxford is thought to have its strengths in the humanities and social sciences. For science students, however, there is one thing to keep in mind: one has to choose a subject to study, as their science courses are boundless at the university. Nevertheless, joint degrees are still possible in some areas. The university is now considered the best institution in the world for the study of English, literature, geography, history, and modern languages.

Cambridge University

Cambridge is widely known for its courses in natural sciences, particularly this course, and thus students can do a flexible degree in natural sciences, allowing them to do a mixture of biological and physical sciences subject to their preference. Unlike Oxford, Cambridge also has education at the undergraduate level. As of now, the university is the best in the world rankings of History, Mathematics, and Archaeology.

Oxford University vs Cambridge University: Scholarships

Scholarships provided by the University of Oxford

Reach Oxford Scholarship 

This Scholarship covers course fees, a grant for living expenses, and one return airfare per year. However, the candidate must have received an acceptance letter for a particular course from Oxford University.  

Hill Foundation Scholarship 

The Hill Foundation Scholarship provides 100% living expense support in addition to full tuition coverage. The Hill Foundations, which is presenting it, wants to encourage a network of Oxford scholars and alumni associations to strive for social and cultural advancement.     

Palgrave Brown Scholarship 

Provides a bare minimum of £13,365 per year to pay living expenses. Only the first four years of education for 6-year medical degree candidates will be funded. given to low-income students by the Palgrave Brown Bursary Fund.

Scholarships provided by the University of Cambridge

Cambridge International Scholarship

It includes the cost of university inventory and the capital savings for one. Students are shortlisted solely based on their academic merit, research ability, examination results, and references.  

Aker Scholarship

This is a need-based grant. The amount is subject to change but is sufficient to cover the full cost of studying at the University of Cambridge. It is for students who want to obtain a Masters or PhD degree. Only 10 students each year are eligible for this programme

Beit Cambridge Scholarship 

It covers university tuition, annual stipends, and other stipends. Students are only eligible for this scholarship if they wish to return to their home country after the course and seek some work experience.

Oxford University vs. Cambridge University Rankings

The Oxbridge brand is very strong, with both halves getting high ratings in QS's international surveys of academics and employers. The differences between the institutions are generally very minor; as longstanding members of the global top 10, both Oxford and Cambridge are firmly established among the world's higher education elite. Let's look at the Cambridge University and Oxford University rankings in detail:

University of Oxford

Oxford University is known as one of the best universities in the world, despite being one of the oldest. Oxford University rankings are as follows

  • 1 Times Higher Education 2024
  •  3 QS World University 2024
  •  1 Times Higher Education 2023

University of Cambridge

Cambridge University is one of the leading universities in the world. As a prestigious university, Cambridge has moved up the ranking ladder in recent years. These are Cambridge University rankings.

  •  2 QS World University 2024
  •  5 Times Higher Education 2024
  •  2 QS World University 2023

5 Ways to Prepare for Oxford and Cambridge University Exam

Many young Indians want to study in respected universities like Oxford and Cambridge. While the journey is undoubtedly challenging, there are possibilities for academic and personal growth. In addition to achieving the highest exam results for Oxford and Cambridge, candidates must also pass entrance exams, hand in written assignments on time and attend as many cases as possible Reputable teachers are consulted

Getting an interview partly depends on your academic level, but these universities are looking for creative, inquisitive, and analytical thinkers who can use what they already know to find new ways to solve problems rather than memorise data and pass exams.

Here are 5 ways to prepare for university exams:



1. Research

Comprehensive assessment forms an important part of the success of entrance examinations in education. A basic Google search reveals a wealth of information on the internet about websites, e-books, and admissions organisations. Unfortunately, given the nature of this study, it is not possible to ensure that any online resources provide accurate and current instructions, deadlines, or detailed information. Exam-related electronic resources are offered by Cambridge and Oxford; these materials specify which subjects call for a specific exam as part of the application process or even whether an exam is required. While some tests may be similar in design, they assess skills differently.

2. Prepare well for your interview

Think of your Oxbridge interview as being like an oral exam. There is intellectual interest here, albeit in a generous mood. The root depends on your preparation. Enlist the help of a coach, career counsellor, or peer for a mock interview. Go back to the content of your story - your interview may revolve around content. Like individual cases, Oxbridge interviews are a way for admissions tutors to assess your research ideas, responses to questions, or discussions rather than your interest in the topic or your collective experience. Thus, interviews (and personal statements) certainly have more academic content compared to applications to non-Oxford or Cambridge universities.

3. Honing essay writing skills

In many subjects at Oxbridge (except mathematics and a few sciences), there is a particular academic emphasis on essays. You can expect to compose 1 or 2 articles per week and discuss them with subject matter experts and one or two classmates by participating in tutorial sessions. Consequently, demonstrating competence in essay writing is a cornerstone of your Oxbridge application preparation and plays a vital role in the admissions process. Oxbridge not only encourages you to tell your own story but also through greater research, interpretation, and synthesising abilities through entrance exams and submitted assignments.

4. Display genuine enthusiasm towards the subject matter

Are you someone who often discusses and reads about your hobbies, what interests you and related topics? If you have a genuine passion and enthusiasm for - and can communicate about - the programme you are seeking admission into, supported by examples demonstrating this, it will be very useful. Do not hesitate to express your opinions on what you liked or disliked about a book, lecture, or exhibition, as long as you provide valid illustrations or reasons. Admissions officers can see past students who are insincere in their excitement for their chosen course of study. As a result, choosing the right system is essential to its effective implementation. Which aspects are you most curious about or would like to learn more about? The motivation for applying to and finishing any academic programme at esteemed and well-known colleges like Oxbridge is a thirst for knowledge.

5. Suggestions and Post-Course Participation

Letters of recommendation from teachers, mentors, or supervisors highlight your personality, work ethic, and abilities. It is important to build meaningful relationships with individuals who can demonstrate your accomplishments and potential. A unique suggestion can greatly enhance your application. An extracurricular activity or achievement that may give one a nod towards their talent, be it sports, the arts, science research, or community service, can go a long way in your application. There is great importance, again, with elite universities like Cambridge and Oxford, when counting the number of diverse interests and hobbies their students have, as well as community involvement.

Cambridge and Oxford options

Things to consider

Ultimately, choosing between Cambridge and Oxford comes down to preference and personal preference. Factors such as the curriculum, the charm of the city, and the unique customs of each institution must be carefully considered.

Alumni viewpoints

Consult with prior graduates to obtain a perceptive viewpoint. Students can acquire life intelligence and insight into life's resources by studying the experiences and observations of people who have gone through each of the university's famous halls.

In conclusion

Beyond only a matter of personal taste, the debate between Oxford University and Cambridge University also takes into account historical and cultural factors that impact an individual's preferred mode of education. Both these institutions are examples of academic attainment; hence, it is usually based on personal preferences and experiences. This is often based on academic goals, interests, and ideal university experiences when making this critical choice.

Are you ready to start studying at Cambridge or Oxford? Book your accommodation through Best Student Halls to find out more about housing options and student benefits. Benefit from special offers. Have fun on your vacation to Oxbridge!

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between Cambridge and Oxford?

Oxford is generally thought of as vibrant and slightly larger than Cambridge. Cambridge is considered more beautiful and peaceful.

Does Oxford University belong to the University of Cambridge?

No, Cambridge and Oxford are two very different academic schools with distinct histories, careers, and organisational structures.

Which university, Oxford or Cambridge, was founded first?

Oxford was founded in the eleventh century, and although its exact founding date is disputed, it is often recognised as an ancient university. Cambridge was founded not too long after the eleventh century.

Is it cheaper to study at Oxford or Cambridge?

The two universities charge about the same. Depending on lifestyle and college choice, the cost of living can vary slightly.

Does Oxford have more money than Cambridge?

Both universities have enough funding. As a result of the many approaches to financial evaluation (such as total money or research funds), it can be difficult to determine which university "outranks" absolutely.

Which is harder, Oxford or Cambridge?

There is competition for admission in part because of the large differences between the two universities. Since there are no restrictions on admission, it will be defined by the academic level and the programme's discipline.

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