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- About the University
Virtual Open Day: Life in Oxford
In this video
In the graduate prospectus
Resources introducing the wide range of activities and services available to students are available via the About the University section of our prospectus. Some areas of student life covered by this section include:
- an introduction to sports, drama and music groups for all levels of proficiency, commitment, and experience,
- details of many of the University's largest student-run organisations, from the Student Union (OUSU) to the University's student newspapers and the Oxford Hub, the focal point for charitable activity among students in Oxford,
- guidance on the support Oxford offers students, including counselling services, and childcare.
For more information about the City of Oxford itself and types of venues and entertainment more generally available, our The City of Oxford page has an extensive summary of the significant features of life in Oxford outside the University.
Do you have any photographs of life in Oxford?
If you have photographs that would give prospective and current students a taste of your life as a student in Oxford, you can share them via our 'Life in Oxford' group on Flickr.
Q. Where will I live in Oxford?
A. Essentially, there are three different possibilities – college accommodation, University-owned accommodation, and the private sector.
Colleges attempt to accommodate as many students as possible, particularly in their first year of study – details of each college’s provision for graduates are available via the individual pages of the College Guide. College accommodation may be entirely on-site, within or directly adjacent to the college’s main site, or some may be off-site, up to a distance of around 3 miles from the city centre. Graduates are usually accommodated together where possible to facilitate social interaction.
The University’s Accommodation Office also manages a comparatively smaller holding of properties in and around the city centre for which graduates are eligible to apply, although it is important to look into this option as early as possible if you are interested as the waiting list can be substantial in some cases.
Finally, there is a substantial market in Oxford for private landlords leasing to students of both the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University. There are numerous agencies around Oxford, and the Accommodation Office also holds a database of a number of privately-owned properties available for lease to students.
Q. How do I get around the city?
A. Oxford’s students are well-known for their fondness for travelling around by bicycle.
It can be difficult to keep a car if you live near the city centre due to the narrow streets and parking restrictions. Due to the great number of University and college buildings occupying the centre of the city, it is often the case that affordable student housing leased privately – and, in many cases, University and college housing – is located a small distance from the city centre.
There is also a wide network of local bus services, including two regular bus services to central London. Some services offer a student discount on fares.
It is important to bear in mind that if you are a full-time student, it will be necessary to live relatively close to the centre of the city for the duration of your programme of study; details of this residency requirement are given in our Course Guide.
Q. Where - and what - do students eat?
A. The majority of students do choose to use their college’s catering facilities at least for part of the week, which are usually the cheapest option and provide an opportunity for social interaction with other graduates.
However, graduate accommodation in your college may well include a shared – or, for joint accommodation, sometimes private - kitchen where you can prepare your own food; as a rule, colleges do appreciate that graduate students are more likely to prefer a higher degree of independent living and allocate the available accommodation accordingly.
Details of each college’s provision of catering and accommodation are available via our College Guide; further information may be available at the college’s own website.
Oxford is a particularly diverse town, and there are specialist supermarkets and restaurants covering a vast range of international cuisine, including Polish, Russian, Brazilian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, French, Vietnamese and Greek, amongst many others. There are several halal butchers, and a number of markets and outlets providing organic and/or local produce. UK restaurants generally, and those in Oxford specifically, do tend to cater for vegetarians, and often vegans and those with other dietary restrictions.
Delicatessens of all kinds are a very common sight in Oxford, and there is a regular farmers’ market in the city centre.
Q. What is the cost of living in Oxford?
A. The cost of living in Oxford is relatively high in the UK, comparable to London and Cambridge. However, your experience of costs will vary greatly depending on your interests and your living arrangements.
The annual cost of living as estimated by the University, which you are expected to prove you can cover before enrolling at Oxford as part of the College Financial Guarantee, is £11,700, or £8,775 for a 9-month course (2010/11 figures).
College accommodation is generally considered to be amongst the most affordable and central available; details of the average price range for each college are available in the College Guide. Accommodation in the private market can vary greatly from a room in a student house well away from the centre to upmarket houses on Georgian terraces. The University requires you to budget around £5,500 per year for accommodation (2010/11); this is estimated to cover a reasonable sized single room in a shared house, rented privately, at current market rates in Oxford.
The estimate for food works out to about £265 per month (2010/11 rates), which is based on eating nearly all of your daily meals in your college. The cost of self-catering will of course vary substantially, and the cost of eating out would be dramatically higher than this estimate.
Student discounts, usually of around 10%, are commonplace at many restaurants, hairdressers, bookshops and other establishments in Oxford, and college bars provide a cost-effective social venue. The University’s Sports facilities offer vastly reduced membership rates to students for use of the gym, swimming pool and other sports facilities. Clubs and societies are another low-cost or even free way to enjoy student life.
Q. How will I be able to sign up for groups and societies, such as sports teams, once I arrive in Oxford?
A. University-wide groups will, for the most part, represent themselves on an annual basis at the Freshers’ Fair. This is an enormous collection of stalls run by student societies and groups, who will be very happy to discuss their activities with you and to take down your details in order to get in contact with you about coming along to their next meeting or event.
Many colleges organise their own smaller fairs for college-specific groups, and more generally college-wide newsletters and bulletin boards provide students with information on the kind of societies available and any upcoming events, particularly around the start of the academic year.
Do you have any questions about life in Oxford?
You can submit your questions to us via our online form. We will get back to you in every case, and if the answer to your question might be helpful to other applicants we may publish the question and answer here in our Virtual Open Day.