College life | University of Oxford
Introducing colleges
Oxford sky-line viewed from Wadham College.
(Image credit: PS:unlimited / Oxford University Images).

College life

Oxford’s colleges are at the heart of the Oxford student experience and make our University a very special place to study and live. There are over 30 colleges and halls and all undergraduate students belong to one. If you come here, you are likely to spend much of your time in your college, particularly in your first year.

A ready-made community

College pride is big, but it doesn’t get in the way of intercollege friendship. I’ve never felt so welcomed and liked as I do at my college.


Each of these academic communities are made up of academic and support staff, and students. All colleges provide a safe, supportive environment leaving you free to focus on your studies, enjoy time with friends and make the most of the huge opportunities. Colleges run lots of their own clubs and societies and you can always set up your own. Intercollege sport and drama can be a fun way to meet people from other colleges. Students mix freely across colleges and you are welcome to have friends over. You will also meet other people not at your college in your department and at University-wide events.

 You can find out detailed information about each of them on our colleges pages.

A college is...

  • a community of undergraduates, post-graduates, staff, and academics
  • a collection of buildings with places to live, eat, study, play sport, and socialise
  • a safe space with a team of helpful staff on site 24 hours a day
  • normally where your tutorials take place with a college academic in your subject plus one or two other students
  • somewhere to get personalised support from your tutor or other college staff
  • part of the University of Oxford, but also an independent legal entity

A college is not...

  • a hall of residence
  • a university all by itself
  • outside the city of Oxford
  • Hogwarts (sorry)

Find out where our colleges are.

Your college essentials

Each college is unique, but generally their facilities are pretty similar. Each one, large or small, will have the following essential facilities:

  • Porter’s lodge (a staffed entrance and reception)
  • Dining hall
  • Lending library (often open 24/7 in term time)
  • Student accommodation
  • Tutors’ teaching rooms
  • Chapel and music rooms
  • Laundry
  • Green spaces
  • Common room (known as the JCR)

More about the JCR

Every college has their own Junior Common Room or JCR. This collectively refers to all the undergraduate students in a college. Elected students form the ‘JCR’ committee which organises lots of events and campaigns on behalf of the students in their college. Confusingly, JCR also refers to a room in college, where you can meet friends, get a cup of coffee and watch TV.

Well-being matters

College academic tutors support your academic development through personalised tutorial teaching but you can also ask their advice on other things. Lots of other college staff including welfare officers help students settle in and are available to offer guidance on practical or health matters. Current students also actively support students in earlier years, sometimes as part of a college ‘family’ or as peer supporters trained by the University’s Counselling Service.

In your college, you are part of a close-knit community and as well as your friends there are other people who are trained to give you friendly and professional help if you need it:

  • Subject tutors
  • Students in the year above who have been asked to look out for you (sometimes called 'college parents')
  • Student welfare reps
  • Staff welfare officers
  • Chaplains (whether you have a religion, or not)
  • Doctors
  • College nurse
  • College porters
  • Peer mentors (trained by the Counselling Service)

Find out more about our support for our students