Students talking
Students talking in college grounds.
(Credit: John Cairns)

Student life and wellbeing

Everyone wants to feel like they fit in and belong in the communities where they live and university is no different.

We are proud to have an increasingly diverse community of students in Oxford, with over 40% of all our students and staff coming from countries outside the United Kingdom. This means that there is a ready-made international community waiting for you when you arrive to help you feel at home and settle into student life at Oxford.

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Oxford colleges are academic and social communities within Oxford that every student is a part of from the beginning of their degree, right up until the end and beyond! Each college’s student body is made up of international students and home students studying a range of subjects, so you will have the chance to get to know students with different backgrounds, experiences and interests. 

College life can help students feel at home when they first arrive and throughout their time at Oxford, especially as most students live in college for at least one year of their degree. All first year undergraduates are offered accommodation in college, so you do not need to worry about finding accommodation before you arrive. Your college will support you with arrangements for accommodation during the vacations between term times, whether that’s providing storage space for your belongings or helping you to extend your stay in Oxford if you are not returning home.

As well as a place to live, colleges can be great social spaces. They put on events that are free or heavily subsidised throughout the academic year. There are also typically a range of facilities to be enjoyed, including a dining hall/cafeteria, student bar and library. Some colleges have prayer spaces and sporting facilities but all students can use the University facilities too.

There are hundreds of clubs, sports teams, societies, cultural and faith groups to get involved with outside of your studies that will help you to find communities when you are at Oxford. Most of these clubs and societies are free or heavily subsidised.

Every year there is a Freshers' fair for new and returning students where you can find out about existing clubs and societies that you can get involved with, including campaigning, journalism, music, stage and screen, art, sport and volunteering.  With over 400 clubs and societies there is most likely something for everyone, and you can always create a new one if you cannot find what you are looking for. Take a look at our wall of activities to get a flavour of what clubs and societies our students are involved in.

Clubs and societies can be college-based or they can be University-wide, so they are a great way to get to know more students in your college and in other colleges across Oxford. International clubs and societies are also a good way of meeting other students from around the world and from your home country too.

As well as clubs and societies at Oxford that are mostly student-led, there are also a range of international alumni groups across the world. Some of these groups host events for students about to join the university so you may even be able to start making friends before you arrive!

Oxford is a great place to develop your sporting talents or discover new ones. Oxford offers excellent sports facilities including a gym, an all-weather running track, a water-based hockey pitch, a 25-metre swimming pool, a rowing tank, an indoor cricket centre, two full size sports halls, and a dojo, along with provision for association football, tennis and rugby union. 

Oxford University also has an Olympic heritage stretching right back to the Games of the first Olympiad in 1896. Our alumni have won over 160 Olympic medals on behalf of nations around the world. Alongside facilities and coaching for high-level sports, the Blues Performance Scheme supports high performance teams and individual athletes at Oxford University to improve their long term performance in sport whilst balancing their academic commitments. Once you are at Oxford, there are also funding awards for individual athletes that you can apply for. 

As well as relaxed sports competitions between Oxford colleges, there is the traditional annual Varsity series against Cambridge University that has a long and interesting history, and includes the famous Boat Race between the two universities.

With over 80 sports clubs to choose from at the University it is also a great place to pick up a new sport from scratch or just play for fun and enjoyment. Browse the list of sporting activities at Oxford to see what sports you could get involved in. 

We understand that moving to another country to study can be challenging, especially when you are also studying for a degree and making new friends. 

As well as the friends you will make as you settle into Oxford, the University offers a range of wellbeing support for all students. There is college-based support, such as your personal tutor, college welfare staff and peer supporters (including Rainbow Peers and Peers of Colour). There is also University-wide support, such as the University Counselling Service.

We are dedicated to making sure students feel welcome at Oxford and want all students to feel like they fit in and belong. We have an Equality and Diversity unit at Oxford that creates guidance for tackling all forms of discrimination, including racism, to help us maintain and grow an inclusive community. There are also student-led groups and support networks that campaign for and promote change.