Not exactly. You can put a college's campus code on your UCAS form to specify a preference but you might still be shortlisted and offered a place by another college. This 'reallocation' helps us ensure that the best candidates, regardless of which college they select, are offered places. In 2020, 34% of successful applicants got an offer from a college they didn't specify on their application. There are over 30 colleges and halls offering undergraduate courses at Oxford. College campus codes are listed on each college page. If you can't decide on which college to apply to then you can make an open application. Read more about this below.
All colleges have signed up to a Common Framework for admissions which means the same application process for your course at every college. Whichever college you go to, you will be studying for the same degree at the end of your course. Although all undergraduates belong to a college, it is the University of Oxford, not the colleges, which awards degrees.
My college is so friendly and inclusive, and the other students are so incredibly diverse and interesting. There is a really strong support system, and I feel like I am truly part of a community in which we all look out for each other.
How do I decide?
On the whole, colleges have more similarities than differences but here are a few things you might like to consider:
• size and age
• location – how close to the city centre, your department, the park, the river, the sports centre (see maps)
• accommodation – number of years of college accommodation, where it is, how much it will cost
• grants or other funding – as well as any support provided by the University
• facilities – all colleges have a library, dining hall and common room but other resources do vary (you can also use the University’s facilities)
• access – most colleges have facilities and accommodation for disabled students; however, given the age of the buildings, some areas of some colleges are not accessible for students with mobility issues. Please contact our Disability Advisory Service for advice.
What if I can't decide?
Then you are welcome to make an open application by choosing campus code 9 on your UCAS application. This will mean that your application will be assigned to a college or hall that has relatively fewer applications for your course in the year you apply. In 2020, 18% of applicants made open applications. Tutors have no preference for direct or open applications: they are looking for the best applicants for their course. However, once your application has been allocated to a college, this is final. If there are any colleges you do not want to go to, you should name a college preference rather than submitting an open application.
What’s the best college for...?
Most colleges offer most courses so they don’t specialise, though the Permanent Private Halls (PPHs) offer a smaller range of subjects. Check which colleges offer your course. They all have high academic standards. Extra-curricular opportunities don’t vary as much as you might think, either – facilities do vary between colleges, but you may be able to use those of another college. You can always join University-wide clubs and societies and use the University’s facilities. Regardless of which college you belong to, you will be able to mix freely across colleges and have friends over to yours. You will also meet people not at your college in your department and at university-wide events. Most students will say their college is the best within a few days of arriving - even if it is not the one they put on their UCAS form!
College pride is big, but it doesn't get in the way of intercollege friendship. I have never felt so liked as I do at my college.
Which college is easiest to get into?
Competition for places at all Oxford colleges is very strong. None of them is easy to get in to. Some colleges tend to receive more applications for each place than others, but this varies from year to year. Open applicants are allocated to colleges which have fewer applications in that year. If a college is very oversubscribed for a particular course, shortlisted applicants might be 'reallocated' and invited to interview by another college instead. Each college interviews roughly the same number of applicants for each place. Many applicants will be interviewed by several colleges during the interview period in December.
If at all possible, come to a University Open Day and look round several colleges. This will help you decide what college characteristics and facilities are important to you.
You can also read more about each college on the college pages or on the colleges’ own websites.