Applying to Oxford or Cambridge as an International Student

One of the most famous views of Oxford University

It shouldn’t be surprising, given their global reputations and world leading status, that Oxford and Cambridge (known together as ‘Oxbridge’) attract students from all over the world. Across both universities, around 20% of students are from outside of the UK.

International students should be confident that they have the same chance of success as UK applicants to Oxford and Cambridge – admissions tutors are very familiar with assessing international applications, and the process is set up to welcome students from across the world. In fact, Oxford are keen to point out that they admitted their first ever international student – Emo of Friesland, in 1190 – centuries before most universities existed.

When students do arrive in the UK, they will find a large and welcoming community of international students and societies to ease the transition to studying in the UK. There’s clubs and societies for most countries in both universities, so you’ll have no problem finding people from your own country to socialise with, as well as students from all over the world.

 

The mathematical bridge in Cambridge

 

Finance, fees and visas

As an overseas student (currently defined as outside the EU), there are three costs you need to consider. These are your: i) tuition fees; ii) college fees; iii) living expenses.

Tuition fees are the most significant – they range from around £20,000 - £50,000 per year depending on the course at Cambridge, and £24,000 - £37,000 at Oxford.

College fees are what you pay your college for living costs – these range from around £6,800 - £13,000 per year.

Living Expenses will depend on lifestyle, but Cambridge recommends you budget at least £10,000 per year for these.

You can find more detail on all costs at Cambridge here and at Oxford here.

The bridge of sighs in Oxford

Many international students will need to apply for a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK. To apply for this, you will need proof of offer from the university you intend to study at, evidence that you have met entry criteria and proof that you can cover the financial commitments in advance. You can see more information on applying for your Tier 4 Visa from Oxford here and from Cambridge here.

One point to be aware of is the question of employment during your studies. There are two issues to consider here: firstly, both Oxford and Cambridge advise their students that they should not work during term time (given the intensity of your academic workload). However, you should also be careful to check the terms of your Tier 4 visa with regards to your right to work in the UK.

In general, Oxford and Cambridge have generous budgets for student support – if you feel during your time there that you need support, you should contact the bursary at your college who will be able to advise. In fact, due to the financial support, it’s often cheaper for some students to study at Oxford or Cambridge compared to other UK universities.

There are also various international scholarships available to international undergraduate students – you can see those offered by Oxford here and Cambridge here.

How to apply: UCAS, admissions tests and interviews

The key piece of information to be aware of when applying for undergraduate admissions is that you cannot apply to both Oxford and Cambridge in the same academic year – you must choose just one. (This does not apply to post-graduate admissions).

Here are the key steps, in order, of what is required to apply to Oxford and Cambridge:

1) Choose a degree course

2) Choose a college

3) Check your eligibility

4) Make an application through UCAS

5) At Cambridge, you will be required to submit an SAQ and in some cases a COPA form

6) You may be required to sit an admissions test in early November

7) You may be required to sit an interview, either in person in the UK or online

8) You will hear from the university (via a college) whether you have been offered a place by Mid-January.

 

Students at the University of Oxford 

Now you know what’s required to apply to Oxford or Cambridge. In our next blog post, we’ll break down the above eight steps in more detail.

Want to know what it’s like to study at a UK university? Our sister organisation, the Oxbridge International Summer School has a few places left on its 2019 summer school. Hosted in Lincoln College, Oxford, our Oxford and Cambridge educated postgraduate tutors can give you one-to-one experience of what it’s like to live and study at a top British university.