Oxford and Cambridge are highly ranked universities and often receive media attention, but is their reputation warranted? Furthermore, how challenging is the admission process?
Many of the top positions in the UK are held by graduates of Oxbridge, with 62% of those in the diplomatic service, 58% in law, and 55% in the civil service having been educated there, as reported by the Sutton Trust. However, while these statistics are impressive, Stephen Isherwood from the Association of Graduate Recruiters cautions that Oxbridge may not be the best place for everyone. Students often choose to attend other institutions due to preferences for course content or a preference for a specialized institution. For example, musician Jamie Cullum turned down Oxford in favor of the University of Reading. It is essential to consider the institution, course content, and goals carefully when making a decision.
Despite Oxbridge’s reputation, a degree from these universities does not ensure employment. While many employers target graduates from top universities, recruiters also reject numerous Oxbridge candidates. It is essential to remember that a degree alone does not guarantee admission to the workforce.
If an Oxbridge education is of interest, it is necessary to ignore media stereotypes and understand the reasons behind pursuing the course of study. According to current Oxford University student Naina Bajekal, it is crucial to know why one wants to study a course for the next three or four years. Mike Nicholson, the head of undergraduate admissions at Oxford University, believes there is no particular "Oxford type." The university is interested in bright students passionate about their areas of study.
So, what is involved in the admissions process? Oxford and Cambridge typically receive around five applications for each available spot. Candidates are shortlisted based on predicted A-level grades, GCSE marks, personal statement, school reference, entrance tests, or work submitted. Cambridge promises to interview over 80% of applicants, while 60% of those who applied to Oxford in October 2011 were invited to interview, with 35% receiving offers.
In 2012, 74.3% of students awarded a place at Oxford achieved A*A*A or better, counting solely their best three A-levels. The success rate for Cambridge applicants varies based on the course and is detailed by private and public school on their website.
Both universities take into consideration a candidate’s educational and social backgrounds when making offers. Oxford uses a "flagging" system to support candidates from underprivileged neighborhoods or those with a history of care. Nicholson emphasizes that the flagged candidates interviewed do not displace non-flagged applicants.
Finally, the deadline to apply is 15th October, and the infographic provides admissions statistics from previous years.