A Guide to Student Life in Oxford

The historic city of Oxford is home to two world class universities and is roughly 60 miles northwest of London. Known as the “City of Dreaming Spires” Oxford is a fantastic place to be a student and many graduates would claim Oxford offers a better student experience than any other university.

In modern times life in Oxford isn’t all about punting up and down the river but there are plenty of things to do when you’re not busy studying.

So, what else do you need to know about living and studying in Oxford?

Where to study

You have two options if you want to study in Oxford – the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University.

The University of Oxford is the oldest English speaking university in the world and comprises of 39 separate colleges. It’s known for academic excellence and producing graduates that become leaders in their fields and industries.

Oxford Brookes University is the more modern university and although it doesn’t have the history of the University of Oxford it still ranks among the top 15 universities in the UK.

How much will it cost you?

A 2014 survey conducted by HSBC ranked the University of Oxford as the second most expensive university for freshers to attend. Students pay roughly £272 per week for accommodation, food, travel, student essentials, and entertainment.

Getting around

The narrow, busy streets mean that driving isn’t a popular option in Oxford, with most students preferring to walk or cycle. Luckily the fairly compact nature of the city means that it doesn’t take long to get to your destination.

If you don’t fancy being out in the elements then there is an excellent bus system, including a direct bus to Heathrow and Gatwick airports every three hours during the day.

There’s also a train station with direct trains to larger cities such as London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, and Bristol.

Where to live

If you’re going to be studying at the University of Oxford there are seven permanent halls of residence and all Oxford colleges offer accommodation for at least two years. Depending on the college you choose you may be offered housing for the entire duration of your course.

Those of you that are studying at Oxford Brookes University are guaranteed accommodation in halls if you’re an international student or a UK/EU student and Oxford Brookes was your firm choice on your UCAS application.

After your first year there are two halls reserved for returning students although many students choose to move into private rented accommodation in the city. 

Party time

The higher living costs mean that students tend to socialise in their college or university managed bars but there are plenty of things to do if you do venture out into the city.

There are an impressive number of bars, clubs, and pubs for a small city so no matter what kind of atmosphere you like when you go out, you’re bound to find something that suits you.

For some retail therapy head to the Cornmarket, Queen Street, or the High Street for all the shops you can imagine. You can also try the Westgate and Clarendon Centres or explore the traditional Covered Market.

You’ll find all of the usual restaurant chains in Oxford and you can also sample food from any of the independent restaurants, cafes, and food stalls you’ll find in the city.