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Oxford College Pros and Cons

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This page includes views of current students as to the good and bad points about individual Oxford colleges. Feel free to add your own views, especially if they refer to one of the colleges in the To Do section! Remember that many of the points below are opinions and may not be a true representation of what the college is like. Sensibly, you are advised not to base your decision on the college to apply to solely on this article.

Contents

Balliol College

The Good Bits

  • Balliol has one of the most active JCRs (Junior Common Room- the student body) in the entire university. The JCR does a wide range of things, including organising charity events, running access days, putting on socials and providing support for its students.
  • We also run our own cafe. Affectionately known as 'Pantry', the JCR cafe is open throughout the day serving breakfast, lunch and dinner to students and plenty of snacks and drinks in between! As a result, there are always people around in the JCR throughout the day sitting and chatting with their friends, reading the newspapers, eating etc.
  • We are one of the only JCRs to run our own student bar. The bar is conveniently located under the JCR, and serves a wide range of alcoholic and soft drinks. It also has a dukebox, a quiz machine, darts, table football and a pool table! There are a number of benefits to having a student run bar. The prices tend to be cheaper than elsewhere in Oxford, because the bar isn't attempting to make large amounts of profit. As a result, it's typically one of the most active bars across the university. The entire thing is run by (elected) students, and its students who are employed behind the bar. That means that there is always a friendly face behind the bar, and if you want to earn some extra money whilst studying, you can get work behind the bar.
  • Our hall serves lunch and dinner every day, including at the weekends. The food is good quality, nice and relatively cheap. Unlike some colleges, you don't have to wear a gown to dinner, and there is a relaxed environment. Every Tuesday, there's the opportunity to go to 'formal hall', where you wear smart clothes and have a served meal. This can be a nice opportunity to celebrate somebody's birthday, for example, but it's entirely optional and the normal hall service operates as well.
  • There is a wide range of accommodation you can live in. In their first year, all students live together in the college main site. This provides a great opportunity to meet new people and to get to know the city. Balliol also provides accommodation for another year of your degree, typically your third year. You get to pick your own room, and can choose a room within your price range and near to your friends. In your second year, there are a number of options. You can either live at Jowett Walk, or live out in a house. Jowett Walk is a block of Balliol owned accommodation just five minutes walk away, which is still incredibly central. Every room there has an en-suite, and you share kitchen facilities with the rest of your flat. Alternatively, you can live out in a house. This is a great opportunity to live with your friends and experience a glimpse of 'real' life. Both options are incredibly popular with students.
  • We have excellent academic facilities. Our college library is well stocked and open 24/7, and our location means that we are within easy reach of subject libraries and other academic facilities. Due to our relatively large undergraduate population, we have lots of tutors across the different subjects, ensuring excellent teaching provision.
  • The college has a wide range of sports facilities. We have two gyms which students can use, one on the main site and one at our graduate site just 10 minutes walk away. At Jowett Walk, we have a wide range of sports facilities including pitches for football, rugby and cricket, and squash and tennis courts. Balliol has a large selection of sports teams you can get involved with, either seriously or casually, ranging from rowing to ultimate frisbee!
  • If you're interested in music or drama, Balliol is the place for you! There is a music room in college which can be used for free by members of the music society (which can be joined for a nominal fee) where you can rehearse, and which includes a piano. We also have student choir, which rehearses during the week and then sings every Sunday at the chapel service. The college is a short walk away from the Sheldonian theatre, where concerts are often performed, and there are a range of other music venues close by. The college also has its own theatre at Jowett Walk. A number of plays are put on here each year, including the college Charity Musical which takes place annually!
  • Balliol is right in the middle of the city centre. Tesco and Sainsbury's are just a few minutes walk away, as are a range of shops and restaurants. Whether you want to go to talks, see concerts or go clubbing, Balliol is ideally located in the heart of Oxford.
  • You can walk on the grass! Unlike most other colleges, students at Balliol are allowed to walk and sit on the grass in the back quad. During the summer months, this means that people can sit with their friends, do work outside or sit out on the grass and eat- on hot days, students bring their food out from the hall and sit on the lawn.
  • Balliol has a laid back, friendly environment which allows students to thrive, pursuing a range of extra-curricular activities alongside their degree. Students here have typically been involved in university sport, music, politics, drama and journalism- whatever you want to get involved in, you can be sure that other Balliol students will be keen to get involved too!
  • The college has great student support- we have a chaplain, a dean and junior deans on hand to assist you with any problems you may have. The college also provides extensive financial support to students, ensuring that no student has to leave Balliol for financial reasons, and that everyone is able to make the most out of their student experience.


The Bad Bits


  • Self-catering is pretty limited whilst living in college. There are a number of kitchenettes in different staircases, but the facilities are fairly minimal. The facilities are much better at Jowett Walk, or living out in a student house.
  • Be prepared for lots of tourists! Balliol is a wonderful place, but unfortunately that means sharing it with large groups of tourists and their (occasionally loud) tour guides. However, the tourists do bring a lot of money into the college which is spent for the benefit of students.

Brasenose College

The Good Bits

  • Excellent location, by far the best in Oxford being the only undergraduate college on Radcliffe Square (considered by many the world's prettiest square) as well as being on the High Street. You are allowed to park on the square which is handy. Nothing in Oxford is more than about a 15 minute walk away. Frewin is situated next to Oxford Union just off Cornmarket street
  • Guarantees accommodation for entire undergraduate degree. First years all live in College, second years in Frewin and third/fourth years split between the two. This means that all accommodation is in central Oxford unlike many other colleges whose annexes are far out. Frewin also beats most other college annexes hands down (something you won't see on the open days)
  • Very pretty, old "Castle-style" buildings (and no 'rubbish quad' like some colleges)
  • Most People actually live in the nice old bits which is a real rarity in other colleges
  • Small, cosy atmosphere, all freshers live very close to each other
  • Big JCR, with pool, arcade machines, vending machinge and Sky TV (including skysports) which has recently undergone a £35k refurb (which probably makes it the best JCR in Oxford)
  • Good Entz
  • Very wealthy college
  • General good fun and sociable atmosphere in college, people always up for going clubbing/watching films/going for ice-cream etc.
  • Great nightlife, there's always a big Brasenose group at most balls, we're accomplished crewdaters and have our own corner of Bridge nightclub
  • College cafe 'Gerties' is open most of the day, and serves made to order breakfasts in the morning, and paninis/baguettes/toasties etc in the afternoon, one of the best places to eat and prices are subsidised (much cheaper than outside shops).
  • Very Cosy feel to it - Since everyone lives so close there is very much a community feel and everyone knows everyone in college
  • No great sense of hierarchy and formality like in other colleges. You can wear pretty much anything under a gown in formal and even the Principal (former head of research at CERN) will try to get to know students (you can frequently spot him in the boathouse during races and down the bar)
  • Oxford's oldest boatclub (just so you can say you were a member of it.) Also got a nice boat house and some really good coaches
  • 24/7 Library which is absolutely stunning and overlooks rad square!
  • Big and cheap bar which has just been refurbished. It ranks along some of the best college bars in both physical form and atmosphere (its packed almost every night where as lots of other bars can be dead most of the time)
  • Stunning chapel (go have a look for yourself if you don't believe me) which still maintains a small and personal ambience. Free wine and champagne after even song and free formal dinner on Sundays for choristers
  • Lots of free fancy dinners (eg Arts and Societies Dinner, Sports Dinner), and events with free alcohol, snacks etc.
  • The Brasenose 'Lessons in Government Seminars' attracts better speakers than the union at the moment (e.g. David Cameron, Vince Cable, Paddy Ashdown, Alistair Darling, Geoff Hoon, Margaret Beckett).
  • Lots of really cool traditions like 'Ale Verses', Burns Night, 'Ivy Beer'.
  • Really really good food for very very little money. (No termly catering charge!!)
  • Famous alumni include Michael Palin (who gave us a talk this year) and William Golding
  • Put it this way, all colleges have some small minor negative aspects but Brasenose is by far the best all rounder. Having spent a few years there and having had either 1st or 2nd hand experiences of most other colleges I can assure you that if I reapplied, it would definitely be to Brasenose!
  • David Cameron attended
  • Amazingly friendly porters who are very helpful and great at sorting things out!

The Bad Bits

  • No proper kitchens in college so no ovens, only microwaves and fridges in 1st year, but then everyone eats in hall which is sociable. Other colleges can have pretty dead halls.
  • The college does not provide 'internal phones' as a few colleges do - but if you have a mobile/skype then this is not an issue.
  • High street rooms can be noisy
  • No toasters in your room, but they are allowed in the 'kitchen' (room on most staircases with fridge/microwave in)
  • David Cameron attended
  • Not very active political side of JCR, and people seem reasonably apathetic towards college politics (but this means no arguments in JCR meetings about the JCR's stance on divisive political issues that are totally irrelevant to college life!)
  • No gym, though they provide membership to iffley road gym, (which is far better equipped than college gyms)

Christ Church

The Good Bits

  • Gorgeous grounds and amazing scenery
  • The cathedral is obviously on site - therefore making it a bit easier to find out what all the fuss is about (both the building and the chapel choir)
  • Christ Church meadow (funnily enough) and the river are effectively your back garden - making it rather easy to jog in nice scenery / get down to the boathouse for early morning outings
  • Free cake! Each student is entitled to a free cake each term (they come in many varieties), which is funded by JCR money. You email the cake rep and your cake is delivered to you, normally within a couple of days. Just a nice little extra.
  • Every Sunday there is free food (viz. picnic food) in the JCR funded by welfare money
  • Formal hall every day, including weekends, and food is pretty cheap. If you opt for the termly season ticket like most people, the three course meal works out at £2.25 a day
  • On the whole food is very good, sometimes fairly ambitious (i.e. duck pate)
  • Formal hall is very relaxed (you can wear what you like under a gown) every day except for Friday where people tend to dress up and there is a 'best dressed at Christ Church' competition based on Formal Friday outfits
  • Very generous book grant (£240 in total) and college will pay for you to stay in oxford over the vacation if you need to for academic reasons (provided that you can prove your stay is academic).
  • Accommodation for the entirety of your course, including the opportunity to stay in the notorious 'Peck Sets' in 2nd or 3rd year.
  • Tom Tower ringing every hour from 8am to 9pm (then it rings 101 times at 9.05pm), so you'll never forget the time during this period!
  • All rooms in college (and out of college rooms) cost exactly the same - approximately £133 a week (June 2014).
  • Dedicated law library, open 24 hours.
  • Large year so everyone *will* find a friendship group
  • Strong rowing tradition
  • Very friendly college, inter-year friendships are not at all uncommon. Not particularly clique-y; everyone makes the effort to socialise with everyone else
  • Very good welfare, the chaplain Ralph is always available to help (regardless of religious convictions).
  • Well located, just round the corner from the highstreet and two minutes from cornmarket street. Tesco Express and Marks and Spencer two minutes away, Tesco Metro and Sainsbury's Local five minutes away
  • Good Entz
  • Very wealthy college
  • General good fun and sociable atmosphere in college, people always up for going clubbing/watching films/going for ice-cream etc.

The Bad Bits

  • Tourists can be very annoying - not just during the summer, but as long as there are smatterings of sunshine about. You get to march past them though and stride along the middle of Tom Quad, which can be very gratifying.
  • You'll be hacked to high heaven in most Union elections
  • Virtually no cooking facilities in college, so there isn't much of an option aside from hall food. This can be hit-and-miss, although it does cater for loads of diets (halal, gluten-free, etc.). Note: There are cooking facilities if you elect to live in Liddell or St. Aldates Quad.
  • The library's collection of books can be quite limited in certain academic areas, and rather dated (although are willing to buy new books). Opening hours can be limited (but still open until 12).
  • 'Rah' stereotype (which should be completely ignored - it isn't true!)

Corpus Christi College

The Good Bits

  • Has the Pelican. 'Nuff said
  • Small, cosy college. You will know absolutely everyone in college, which is always a good thing
  • Excellent beer cellar with a good atmosphere and decent prices
  • Very sociable JCR
  • Formal Halls good fun, generally once a week
  • Food generally pretty good
  • Excellent library, open 24/7, described as a modern "wonder of the world" by Erasmus
  • World famous annual Tortoise Fair (as seen on Blue Peter!)
  • Rapidly expanding Corpus Cinema (not actually a cinema. Provides free DVD rental and film nights)
  • Annual Corpus Challenge sports tournament against Corpus Christi, Cambridge
  • You can walk on the grass
  • Has achieved fame (infamy?) from University Challege, and is now one of the most commonly recognised colleges
  • Best place in the world if you want to stalk Gail Trimble
  • Has the wonderful sun dial
  • Lovely gardens
  • Accommodation for all 3/4 years of degree (although not necessarily in town/on the actual college site)

The Bad Bits

  • Is relatively unnoticed by the rest of the students in the university
  • Beer cellar is pretty quiet compared to other college bars

Exeter College

The Good Bits

  • Small in size, Exeter - like all of the Turl Street colleges - has a reputation for being friendly and for everybody knowing one-another, a feeling not easily found in larger colleges.
  • Turl Street is a fabulous location, right in the city centre but with a quiet, secluded feel.
  • An absolutely beautiful chapel, arguably one of the most stunning in the university. It's twice the size of those found in Lincoln and Jesus Colleges. Has a grand piano.
  • The Hall is particularly grand. There are four formal Halls per week, but of course attendance is entirely optional. Second Hall on Wednesday is particularly lovely, and wine is served.
  • Exonians are provided with three meals per day, seven days per week, which is by no means universal in Oxford. Breakfast in the bar has free drink refills. There is a popular £2.50 meal deal at lunch for any canned drink, custom made panini/salad/baguette and a baked snack or chocolate bar.
  • Friendly and large LGBT community with weekly socials. Many current LGBT staff and fellows, the only college to have had fellows from every group of LGBT. Also has a feminist magazine and community.
  • The Rector regularly invites speakers - such as Alan Bennett, Matthew Parris & George Webb in MT 2006 - in much the same way as speakers might come to the Union but with far more approachability.
  • Literary fame - Philip Pullman, Alan Bennett and J.R.R Tolkien both studied at Exeter, Morse died in an Exeter quad and Jordan College from Philip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' trilogy is based on Exeter.
  • Fantastic library, especially for historians. It's also open twenty-four hours a day during term time, which is extremely useful for last minute essay writing. There are over 40,000 books on the shelves and a similar amount in storage.
  • Arguably the best mixed-voice choir in Oxford.
  • The beautiful Fellows' Garden with an amazing view over Radcliffe Square and All Souls' College (apparently voted best view in the city). During the summer there are also ducks.
  • Big nightlife scene - Bridge on a Tuesday, Parkend on a Wednesday, and MILF (or Mondays at Filth) will all have a group of Exonians without fail.
  • Good college teams for virtually every sport (for 'good', read 'fun and committed'!)
  • Sports facilities relatively close at only 20 minutes walk away.
  • JCR refurbished in 2006. Many staircases now ensuite.
  • Great bops.
  • Founded in 1314, it is the fourth oldest college in the university. The place predates the fall of the Byzantine Empire.
  • ExVac: a summer school run by Exonians for disadvantaged children. It's a really lovely scheme to get involved with.
  • All students live out in second year and many choose to live out in third year. While some would see this as a disadvantage, it definitely accustoms you to the 'real world' out there and often works out cheaper than living in college. You don't need to move your stuff out at the end of every term, either.
  • College balls are always fun with live music, dodgems, helter skelters and are competitively priced.

The Bad Bits

  • The most expensive College for undergraduates in Oxford.
  • Although the college says it can generally provide accommodation for all years of an undergraduate degree, only first years and a group of finalists selected by ballot actually live in-college. Accommodation isn't the best and costs are slightly above average.
  • Hall food is not the cheapest, though pricing per item has reduced costs significantly. There is also an additional £280 per term catering charge.
  • Not generally considered 'outstanding' at anything - although this can be great if you want to get involved in e.g the orchestra or a sports team as there's less pressure to be university-level standard.
  • The JCR is pretty apathetic compared to other colleges in terms of politics, although this could be a good thing depending on your outlook.
  • Occasional filming (for Morse [now Lewis], Northern Lights, etc.) can be slightly disruptive.
  • Large tour groups blocking the front quad between 2 and 5 every day.

Harris Manchester College

The Good Bits

  • Small (possibly even the smallest) and super-friendly, so you get a fantastic sense of community from the word go. There are also next to no divisions between the year-groups; everyone mixes very well, to the extent that from a first-year perspective, it's often hard to tell which year different students are in.
  • The buildings - this can only really be appreciated 'in the flesh', so to speak - but the college website really does not do justice to the architecture; it's actually incredibly pretty.
  • The social side - there are well-established Wine and Film societies, and plenty of bops.
  • HMC is allegedly the only Oxford college to give its academics and its students the same food - which is probably where the suggestion that we have the best food of all the colleges comes from. It's good food, either way.
  • Location - you couldn't get much more convenient! HMC is sort of squashed in between Wadham, Mansfield and New for anyone who doesn't know, and is <5 minutes from the Bodleian, the University Parks, the main shopping areas and so on.
  • All living-in students have access to a kitchen, albeit a basic one, mainly shared one-between-two. Bathrooms are also generally shared one-between-two, and some rooms are en suite.
  • There's accommodation available for all first- and third-year students, and also for any second-years who want to live in (though most move out).
  • Due to the absence of an on-site gym, the college provides its students with gold membership to two external gyms (LA Fitness and Willows at the Four Pillars Hotel). For college-level sports we pair up with Wadham, so HMC students don't miss out on anything sports-related.
  • Book grants of £140 and £50 are available to all undergraduate and graduate students respectively.
  • Library - it's surprisingly well-stocked for a small college.

The Bad Bits

  • Steep battels compared to most colleges.
  • Whilst small is good in some ways, the place can also get a little bit claustrophobic.
  • There is no food provided on the weekends. Although the kitchen facilities prevent that from being a problem, it's still a bit of a pain for those who don't like cooking.
  • The college isn't particularly affluent, so we don't host ball-type events as often as some other colleges. However, there are plenty of social excursions organised to make up for that.
  • There's not an awful lot of green space within the college grounds... but, as mentioned above, we're very close to the University Parks, so that's not really a problem.

Hertford College

The Good Bits

  • Central location means that everything is in easy reach in first year (which is spent living in college). Even most of the 2nd and 3rd year accomodation, which is all college provided, is not far away.
  • Opposite the Bodleian Library.
  • College library open 24/7.
  • All student rooms equipped with ethernet point and telephone (free internal calls). Wireless is on its way on the college site, too.
  • Close college community.
  • Accomodation offered for duration of undergraduate course: first year in college, subsequent years in houses and halls either in the Folly Bridge area or in North Oxford.
  • Some good kitchen facilities in accomodation after first year, although this depends on where you end up living.
  • PAYG meals.
  • Whilst the food served in college is not-so-amazing, food served in Warnock House (a college annexe located in the Folly Bridge area, mainly housing thrid year students and some second year students) is generally very good and often excellent.
  • 24/7 access to the Bridge of Sighs - be the envy of tourists!
  • College is small enough that there are always people around, if you're feeling down or lonely.
  • Simpkins the college cat

The Bad Bits

  • Very few kitchens available for use in in-College accomodation (possibly only two), although every staircase has a fridge, with many floors having their own fridge. There are several microwaves in college, a couple of hob/hotplate things, and only one oven.
  • Food served in college hall does not have a good reputation, although the standard seemed to be improving in Jan 2010.
  • Located in a tourist hotspot, which can be annoying at times. As Oxford itself is pretty much one big tourist hotspot, though, you'll get used to it.

Keble College

The Good Bits

Keble is one of the largest colleges within the University. There is a largely social and sporting atmosphere in college with lots of social events and BOPs (twice a term or more with intercollegiate ones). BOPs are held in the very large 60s bar with very friendly bar staff and great cocktails to boot. Recently, the bar has gone under a regeneration so it now does special nights where drinks are cheaper and has regular but also weekly special cocktails. We also host a ball every year with the ball committee truely excellign themselves every time.

The hall serves breakfast 8:15 to 9:45, lunch 12:30 to 1:30 and there is formal hall every night at 7pm on weekdays. At the weekend, brunch is served 11:45 to 12:15 but everyone who wants it, will get served at this time. Informal Hall on Saturday is at 6:30pm and Sunday dinner(formal) is at 7pm with grace being sung by the choir. Only a gown needs to be worn over normal clothes and this might be a bit strange for the first few days, it is easy to adapt. The hall, being the longest in all the colleges, can accommodate almost everyone that wants a meal but Sunday dinner and especially Christmas dinner can get booked very quickly. Menus can be viewed normally a week in advance but can book for the whole term at the start if you so desire. Only dinner needs to be booked and everything is paid for on the University card and is paid off at the start of next term. Keble also boasts a Cafe which is open 11am to 6pm everyday serving sandwiches, paninis, snacks, cereals, toast, proper machine coffee and cold drinks. This is a great place to socialise and some like working in here.

All first and second years are guaranteed accommodation, whilst 90% of third years are able to get in within college walls. Almost all rooms are en-suite with the exception of one block of first year rooms where it is sharing 1 between 2 with the same gender. Every bedroom has high speed internet and an internal phone line which is great for reaching friends within college for free. This can also be used to contact other college free of charge or phone cards can be purchased for external calls. One key is used to access all building within college and gain admittance externally.

Keble is in a great location, based just outside of the main shopping area, it is within a 10-15 minute walk of almost all departments and attractions within Oxford. It is superb for Scientists as it is less than 5 minutes to most of the faculties, giving you those extra few moments in bed. Arts students need not be discouraged by its location though as it's still incredibly near to those faculties as well.

Keble's library is large and has a lot of seating but can get quite busy in Trinity leading up to exams. Books can be loaned for the whole term and the library is open 24hrs. Booked can also be loaned over the entire holidays, useful for catching up on those all important notes.

The college has two JCRs, a main one which has a pool table, a brand new LCD TV, table football and quiz machine. It has ample seating but is a great location for a drop in with friends. The second JCR has to be booked out but this cannot be done in advance. It only houses seating and another new TV but this is a great place for watching films with friends or playing games if one of them has a console.

There's not a lack of sports teams or societies within college. Rugby, rowing and football are all very prominent although there are a multitude of other teams that play at many levels. Beign a large college, a lot of societies are run out of Keble so access is very easy. There is also a 200 capacity theatre within college that has plays on almost every week.

On the whole, a very social, sporty and friendly college. Do not be discouraged as it is just as easy to work and there is always someone to talk to about your subject as it's such a large college. State-school access is encouraged and accounts for about half the population.

The Bad Bits

The traditional view of an Oxford college is one made of limestone so some people view Keble as ugly but in the writer’s opinion, it can be quite beautiful and truly spectacular in the sunshine.

Main problems are to do with accommodation. Prices are quite expensive and the JCR president in the last year has stopped the rent increased by too much. Typically, for 2010/2011 prices are £3400 en-suite for the year or £3200 shared bath room. All belongings need to be moved out over holidays except for fridges which can be a real pain if you live abroad or have to catch the train. There are no kitchen facilities for first or second years; the only options are hall, eating out (best to use student offers like studentbeans) or cooking a ready-meal in a friend’s microwave. Toasters and grills are not allowed although most of the scouts do not care and can easily hide these. Microwaves are allowed but half the rooms are not provided with fridges. Hall food varies a lot but is quite reasonable comparing it to self catering at other universities.

The gym is quite small but you get what you pay for at £50 for the entire year.

Location can be a bit annoying compared to other colleges but still very reasonable considering most clubs are within 15 minutes walk and the train station not much further.

Kellogg College

The Good Bits

  • Architecturally beautiful - Housed in three gabled Victorian buildings
  • The Quads are gorgeous
  • One of the largest colleges by student numbers
  • Massive scenic lawns between the College mansions and the accommodation houses
  • Some of the brightest of Oxford's lot end up here. It is a graduate college, so the atmosphere tends to remain grown-up and intelligent.
  • It is the newest college in the university, so the facilities are pretty polished and top notch. Plus, it has been undergoing renovations in the past couple of years. So everything is, well, new and shiny.

[Edit:] Not the newest anymore

  • Interesting events like Cook Offs and fashion shows, so life is never dull
  • Situated in North Oxford (Popularly called 'Jericho'), which is widely considered the most fashionable area of Oxford
  • Close to some of Oxfordshire's best cafes, boutiques and stores. Don't be surprised to see trendy Kellogg students.
  • Best accommodation in Oxford - Victorian bungalows housing few students at a time.
  • Great food, compared to most Oxford Colleges
  • Relaxed atmosphere
  • Diverse research centres.
  • Strong links to the Education Department.
  • Good joint rowing team with Christ Church
  • Hosted some excellent bops this year for the first time ever, raising hope for more.


The Bad Bits

  • Although a graduate college, it shuts down completely during summer.
  • No College sports teams.
  • No choir, chapel, societies.
  • Very expensive dinners (6-25 pounds), no grants, bursaries etc.

Jesus College

The Good Bits

  • The college itself is right in the centre of town (on Turl Street) so for the first year at least you have easy access to departments, shops etc.
  • The college owns two large blocks of flats on the Woodstock Road and the Cowley Road, so accommodation is provided for all three years should you choose to apply (the vast majority of people do)
  • The student body is quite small (around 95 people per year) and being geographically small too there is a very good sense of community.
  • Since the college is quite rich for its size, meals and rents are well subsidised (current rents around £850 per term)
  • Although Jesus doesn't seem to be particularly "serious" about any sport, there are teams for most sports (Women's and men's football, rugby, netball and hockey teams, several rowing crews, a mixed lacrosse team, a joint Ultimate team with Pembroke and various cuppers teams for less well represented sports like Swimming, Trampolining and Dancesport)
  • The library is open 24 hours - useful for late night exam writing!
  • Located in THE centre of town, literally no more than a 5 minute walk to [or stumble back from] any of the nightclubs, the high street is right on your doorstep and the union just over the road.
  • The JCR was newly refurbished in 2003, and is now one of the nicest in Oxford. As well as Sky TV (which is projected when there are football matches / films on) and free pool, "The Hatch" serves tea, coffee, toast, chocolate throughout the day and serves sandwiches and soup at lunchtime
  • Rooms on the new staircases (18 and 19 especially) are a very good size
  • Double sets especially on SC 6, 12 and 13 are lovely (if you like the person you are sharing with)
  • Free swimming and gym at Iffley. It used to be collecting a card from the lodge but now they have changed the system. As a student from Jesus, you can now register with the Sport Centre free of charge.
  • Money for university level athletes of up to about £60/term towards expenses incurred, e.g. kit used to compete, travel to matches, training fees
  • For a flat fee, paid on Battels, the college has 2 punts that are available for free use.
  • The music room above Staircase 18 has one of the nicest views in central Oxford (it's a storey higher than accommodation etc so you can see all the spires) and has a gorgeous piano, as well as an upright, and plenty of space for a string quartet / small group to practice.
  • Ski-trip and Doxbridge sports tours organised every year are FANTASTIC
  • Formal hall is available every night of the week (except Saturday, when no food is served) so it is not such a formal event - i.e. no gowns are required [this can also be a negative]. There is a 'formal' formal every thursday with a four course meal when gowns are worn
  • Scholars get two free formals every week except Friday and Saturaday, and choristers (i.e. anyone singing in chapel choir) gets free formal on a Sunday following evensong.
  • The chapel choir is all-inclusive. We don't have choral scholars, so we don't have auditions either - if you want to sing then you can.
  • Charges for meals etc. are added to battels for payment in the following term; where else can you get a bowl of soup with 2-3 months' interest-free credit? This contrasts with other colleges which cheekily require a card to be "charged up" in advance.
  • PAYG in hall, unlike other colleges where all meals may be paid for in advance and deciding not to eat in hall means losing out on food you've already purchased!
  • Brand new accommodation in the Ship Street Centre, just across from college, which a lot of first years seem to be getting into.

The Bad Bits

  • The bar is situated directly below the library, which negates the prospect of doing any work on a Friday night should you desperately need to without working in your room or the big libraries. (NB The Bod is open until 10 so this is really a very small concern)
  • College size is small and can feel suffocating at times
  • The bar is also quite small compared to many other colleges. While this isn't a problem on most nights of the week, on a Friday night it leaves people packed together like sardines in a can! Refurbishment in 2007 removed an internal wall so it's a bit better these days - and very spangly!
  • The years get split between the Jericho (mainly 2nd years) and Cowley Road (mainly 3rd years) sites. It is quite nice being kept as a yeargroup though and there are plenty of opportunities to mix
  • The Cowley road site is a relatively long way from the centre of town and not in the nicest of areas to be walking back through late at night, although once you're inside "Fortress Barts" is quite formidable.
  • Lack of soundproofing for the library (so you can hear the bagpipe man on Cornmarket!)
  • Can be quite hard / impossible to get vacation residence if you live in college or Ship Street (NB. they've built more accommodation so I think this is a lot easier now)
  • The Jesus ball is held with Somerville at their college so you will never have a ball within Jesus (but then Jesus is far too small to hold one!).
  • Bops aren't as good / big as other colleges
  • Some of the porters are very strict about the amount of people allowed in a room/set. As the college is SO small you can't get away with as much as you can at the larger colleges
  • College seems worried about students getting excessively drunk as they actively prohibit the lowering of bar prices. While we're still cheap at about £2 a pint this means no Mansfield Happy Hour!
  • While Jesus food is definitely affordable and 9 times out of 10 edible, you may occasionally encounter one of those days when it's quite obvious the kitchen staff have bought a job lot of one item (past examples include Almonds, Apples and Parsnips) and have then proceeded to cook it into everything!
  • All in-college rooms (first years only) are catered only. Sandwich toasters are allowed, toasters and grills are not.
  • College doesn't serve food on a Saturday night.

Lady Margaret Hall

The Good Bits

  • A large college
  • We have an awesome dining hall
  • Attractive quad
  • Close to Summertown, St Giles and Jericho
  • Close to the linguistics department and to some science and engineering buildings
  • Porters' lodge open 24/7
  • Library open 24/7
  • Close to university parks and the Cherwell
  • Formal hall every Friday
  • Beautiful Gardens (especially in Trinity)
  • Allows interview candidates access to the wi-fi
  • Wifi in all public areas and now most rooms

The Bad Bits

  • More 'modern' buildings than some Oxford colleges
  • A bit further out than some colleges (well, it looks far on the map, but on a bike it's fine)
  • Some might consider the fact that it's a large college to be a bad thing
  • Higher end of the rents
  • Food's a bit dodgy at times...
  • Michael Gove attended

Lincoln College

The Good Bits

  • Location - centre of town, but away from most tourists. Right next to the covered market and main shopping street (Cornmarket)
  • Small and therefore friendly; There are 90-100 undergraduates in each new fresher intake who soon all know one-another
  • Pretty buildings with no ugly 60s annex on the main site;
  • Well stocked library in an amazing building, with a spectacular plaster ceiling;
  • All dinners (1st & formal hall) are 3 courses and aren't fried junk. Always copious vegetables and I find the meals are v. filling and also pretty healthy. Special occasion dinners also incredible! (Chef is rumoured to have previously worked at the Savoy).
  • Rooms. If you're lucky enough to get housed in the college rooms around the quad in your first year, then they're v. good (en-suite, fabulous views etc). The (third-year) houses in Museum Rd (just before Keble) are all modern with individual en-suite bedrooms and a reasonable kitchen.
  • The college bar is disproportionately large and yet still pretty and full of character - rated 5/5 in a recent Cherwell column. Cheap (20p) pool, and guest ales. Bar serves an alternative to Hall at lunchtime.
  • A lively college JCR, constitutionally bound to discuss nothing remotely political. And yet we support our Union hacks, if that's how you choose to live your life.
  • Accomodation is provided for three years of your course - very convenient not to have to find accomodation elsewhere.
  • Free membership of the university gym (including swimming pool, etc) paid for by college.

The Bad Bits

  • Only half the freshers get to live in the main college (the rest are in an annex just across the street above the shops).
  • Some particularly appalling second-year accommodation, especially the area affectionately known as "Death Row".
  • Prices for food and rent are a bit expensive - £3.95 for dinner, £104/week rent +utilities (£45/term), with 30 hall meals paid for in advance (and few refunded).
  • The friendly, close-knit atmosphere induced by having such a small college is seen as being insular or claustrophobic by some. A small year can make the atmosphere gossipy and everyone knows your business whether you want them to or not!
  • Self-catering facilities for first and second-years are virtually non-existent, meaning that if you miss (or don't like) a hall, you don't have many options. Also vegetarian food is very repetitive and not that great.

Magdalen College

The Good Bits

  • Aesthetic appeal - Magdalen really is stunning, the grounds are spectacular - set in over 100 acres, including a deer park (complete with slightly dozy inbred deer - the only college to have them!), meadows, gardens, lawns, rivers. Good for relaxing, picnicking, punting etc. & nice change from the traffic of the city centre! Was one of the "Top 50 Places to See in Britain" as chosen by Time Magazine.

There are some really beautiful 15th-18th century buildings integrated with some surprisingly modern ones built in the same style.

  • Accommodation - Provided for all undergraduate years. Done by a ballot system that's reversed in the 3rd year, all students pay a flat rate for their rooms. All are a decent size, some amongst the best in Oxford my 3rd year room = shared 'vestibule' area with a friend, double height ceilings, panelled walls, window seats, massive windows overlooking the deer park, fireplace...). If en-suite is important to you, you should be able to get it in 2nd/3rd year - there are buildings with lots of these. In the first year you will likely be in the Waynflete building which is 200m from college. This is a chance for all the first years to really get to know each other and is really fun.
  • Wealth - Magdalen is one of the wealthiest colleges in Oxford, and therefore is able to offer generous bursaries for students in financial need, as well as for travelling/research/internships and staying in college during vacation. Has the largest student support fund of any college, due to wealthy alumni.
  • Food - All the first year accommodation has kitchen access - from then on it's easy to choose rooms with good kitchen facilities nearby. Combined with cheap , self service, pay-per-meal food in Hall, everybody can suit themselves. Food has a reputation for being good, if not outstanding.
  • Location - a short 3 minute walk from the city centre - I like walking. & also handily located for the science/law areas or hospitals if you're a medic. Heading away from the city centre, one of the closest colleges to St Clements & Cowley road = good for restaurants of a more "diverse" nature! Also, although Magdalen is on the edge of the centre, many who pick central colleges for their location will end up having to live out further away than Magdalen for at least one year. Whereas at Magdalen you're at the same place for all three. Additionally, Magdalen is very close to the Exam Schools, Philosophy Faculty, Social Science Library, Law Bod, and English Faculty.
  • Opportunities offered (such as the trip to Parliament with a former very senior clerk who is now a fellow,), networking with old members, ruining film shoots
  • Being at the college puts you in a prime position to attend the famous May Day Madrigals when the choir sings madrigals from the top of Magdalen tower and the entire student body descends to listen at 5am!
  • Just the choir and chapel general. Magdalen is one of the three choral foundations of Oxford meaning that having the choir is written into the college's founding agreement. Daily services are sung by the choir of men and boy-choristers.
  • Lots of social stuff; bops every few weeks, excellent parties.
  • Bar - update by another student: the bar was newly refurbished last year, and whilst is a little more expensive than other college bars, is now really well decorated, with leather sofas, and student photography on show as well as the usual table football, pool table etc.
  • Fantastic tutors - as far as I can tell everyone is taught by some of the best, and for History it's certainly one of the best-taught colleges. And on an academic note, the library is brilliantly stocked especially for the arts, pretty good for sciences & they'll order anything in promptly if you need it. Magdalen was top of the Norrington table in 2009/10.
  • Free stuff: Welfare will discreetly provide you with, among other things free condoms, lube and rape alarms, on request.
  • Sports - facilities are reached through the college grounds: pitches (football, lacrosse, rugby), ground (cricket), courts (netball, tennis - hard and grass) & Pavillion. We also have our own Squash Courts on site. Also college membership of the university sports complex at Iffley (gym and pool). Rowing wise very successful in recent years (Men's first boat want 'Head of the River' in 2004 and have held it for the last 4 years, have recently won Novice regattas & have a fair few Blues) - mini fleet of Empachers, train at Radley but boathouse on the Isis too. Blues from other sports - receive £££s from college in the form of a hardship fund and grant.

Money for college sports freely flowing & they're supportive of you setting up new clubs if one doesn't exist at the moment.

  • Societies - notably Sherrington (for medics - recent speakers Lord Robert Winston and Pres of Royal College of Surgeon's), Florio (poetry), Atkins (lots of corporate event sponsorship for lawyers), Stokesley (debating).
  • Facilities - dark room, art studio, allotments (!)
  • Cinema Society - in the summer, Magdalen holds outdoor screenings of films on its quad, which tend to be very popular in the university as a whole (i.e. end up having waiting lists.) Magdalen students get first dibs on tickets.
  • Attractiveness - has a reputation for having the most attractive student body. Annual ranking of the "10 Most Attractive Finalists" attracts a lot of attention throughout the university.

2nd writer -- this is true if you're into that "Jack Wills catalogue" kind of look - floppy hair, trim figures etc.

  • Graduate students - a decent MCR means you can get to know students doing masters/D Phils etc - handy for planning life beyond undergrad. If you think you might want to stay on after undergrad normally everyone staying at Oxford wants to stay at Magdalen (rather than the usual attempt to change to "upgrade")! It has a very active MCR - bops, cheese and wine tastings, Cambridge exchange etc... & lots of accommodation available.
  • The people in general - a range of home/internationals and from various backgrounds - including public schools (!)
  • Magdalen has a reputation for valuing original thought and the tutors seem to encourage unorthodox opinions and ideas.

The Bad Bits

  • First year accommodation is outside walls which can be a pain especially if you have to walk all the way over the bridge... a whole 2 minutes or so. ;-)
  • Just in my personal opinion; the JCR meetings etc can feel a bit overwhelming, as the sports teams are very dominant and the general atmosphere can be pretty competitive and dare I say it, public-school-y.
  • Update by another student: the JCR meetings can be a little overwhelming (I was JCR Secretary in 2007) but only because everyone is genuinely interested and cares. I did not find that sports teams were dominant at all (apart from when there is a motion about premplus/setanta sports). Also in recent years the number of state school students has increased dramatically, so there is much less 'public school-ness'
  • Hall food isn't amazing. But for the fancy dinners (Matriculation, Restoration/Scholars, Schools Dinner after you've done finals, Head of the River, High Table when you join the MCR) it is - otherwise, see kitchen!
  • It's a fairly large college geographically which can be kind of daunting.. `definitely not for you if you want an intimate atmosphere.
  • Reputation; part of me thinks this can't be helped but the general atmosphere at college isn't, frankly, the friendliest, and Magdalen isn't known to be...

2nd writer - i disagree with this. If you think small in size and numbers = "friendly" then it's not for you, but i wouldn't say it's "unfriendly" - you'll easily find likeminded.

  • Rent - has gone up over the past few years. OUSU prospectus normally details these.

Mansfield College

The Good Bits

  • By far the highest percentage of state school intake of any Oxford college. College known for leading the university on access.
  • Famous principal Helena Kennedy who has accomplished much in her life.
  • Has the feeling of being more left wing and liberal than most colleges (obvious exception is Wadham).
  • Not so much in the way of the "traditions for tradition's sake" stuff.
  • It's close to a lot of departments meaning that you won't have to walk across town to get to your lectures.
  • It's known as one of the friendlier colleges and to some, a party college
  • You get to know everyone in your year.
  • The porters are very helpful and chat to you each time you hand in your work.
  • Very good quality food. It's currently about £2 - £2.50 for most meals.
  • Very central, but not touristy either as it doesn't open onto a main road.
  • Beautiful buildings and architecture.
  • Cheap-midrange rent. Modern accomodation. All freshers get ensuite rooms (and in other years, the non-ensuite larger rooms are more popular than the ensuite ones)
  • University parks nearby
  • 24 hour beautiful library with a painted ceiling.
  • One of the biggest (if not the biggest?) JCRs (i.e. common room) in the university with snooker, table tennis & table football table.
  • Large Entz (entertainment) budget for the JCR (especially freshers week) compared to other colleges
  • It's close to the University Sports Club (applies to postgrads only)
  • Has maintained a good ranking within the norrington table within recent years (even though the lack of some science courses skews the ranking out of Mansfields favour);.
  • Successful sports teams (some joint with Merton).

The Bad Bits

  • Not as famous, although that could be a good thing
  • Only offers two years of college accommodation to students
  • Smallish year of about 70 (not particularly a bad thing)
  • Only 3 kitchens in college, and are mainly used as for social gatherings

Merton College

The Good Bits

  • Merton was founded in 1264, so we can boast about being 'arguably the oldest Oxford college'. The door to Hall is three times older than the USA!
  • Beautiful architecture and gardens (bonus: wireless internet is available in the Fellows' Garden).
  • As one of the smaller colleges with around 90 undergraduates a year and 300 graduate students altogether, Merton has a very friendly atmosphere.
  • Our JCR receives a lot of money (an annual budget of £30,000) from the college to pay for welfare, entertainment and whatever else we decide we want.
  • A Nintendo Wii in the JCR.
  • The food is amongst the best in the university, and very good value at £1.64 for breakfast, £2.97 for lunch and £3.70 for an evening meal (including formal hall). You only pay for the meals you go to, rather than a termly rate, and any guests you bring pay the same as members.
  • Wonderful brunch on a Sunday. Really, it's amazing.
  • Merton can provide accommodation for every year of your degree, with very nice rooms and one of the lowest rents in the university. After the first year, not all rooms are on the main college site, but they are all in central Oxford.
  • Excellent academic reputation. We receive very good teaching and have repeatedly come top of the Norrington table (which ranks Oxford colleges on their degree results) in the last few years.
  • Located close to the centre of town but set back from the High Street, backing on to Christ Church Meadows. The location is both peaceful and convenient.
  • Our fortnightly Bops (big fancy-dress parties) are held in the sports pavilion on Manor Road (near St. Catz), so they are bigger and go on much later than most colleges'. We also have more (or as many) bops than other colleges.
  • Our games room has free pool and free table football. Our bar is really cheap and Dave the barman is brilliant (and he provides excellent toasties for only £1).
  • Lots of baths (although more showers have been introduced in recent years).
  • The college has a fully-equipped fitness room on the main college site.
  • Crazy (amazing) traditions like the Time Ceremony.
  • It's one of the richer colleges, which means cheap rents that are the same for all rooms, book tokens and other achievement prizes are abundant, and you know you can fall back on them financially if something goes badly wrong with your life.
  • The academic support is excellent if you are having difficulties with your work.
  • Welfare provision is a particular strong point of the college, with the structure being cited as a model for other colleges to adopt across the University. We have a separation between the PoP and DPoP (in charge of Discipline) and the Welfare Dean, Chaplain and Nurse (in charge of Welfare), unlike some other colleges who have one 'Dean' in charge of both areas. We also have the largest number of peer-support trained elected JCR members of any college.

The Bad Bits

  • The provision of kitchens isn't that great in first year. Most second year accommodation has kitchens, but most 1st year and 3rd years (who choose to live on the college site) have to make do with 3 kitchens between them. You can certainly have a decent kitchen for years 2 and 3 (and 4) if you choose to though.
  • We are stereotyped as workaholics who never leave the library. Like most stereotypes, this is rubbish. We go out, party and get involved in societies as much as any other collegemoreso in many citeable instances. The bad bit is: many naiive people at other colleges actually do belive these stereotypes are true, and it gets annoying to be asked 'is it true facebook is banned' for the 50th time (its not - college does not censor the internet at all, unlike some other colleges...)
  • We have some silly rules (mostly ignored but people can be fined for them) about where you can walk on the grass (most places but not on two areas), and not being allowed to gather in groups of more than ten people at a time (used to break up particularly disruptive groups on site after 11pm i.e. only rarely)
  • Being opposite exam schools. This is actually a pro if you are an arts student because your lectures are right next door, but in the summer term the after-exam celebrations are really noisy and messy and smelly, which is annoying, especially if revising.
  • Pressure: some subjects are noted for really picking up on people not performing as they should. There have been a few instances of certain subjects being very trigger-happy when it comes to rustication on academic grounds. That said, most other subjects are also incredibly reasonable and supportive academically, with official college policies much more lenient than other colleges (e.g. in recent times, a Maths student who only passed first year without honours - a grade that would merit instant rustication at most colleges - was allowed either continue on without consequence, or to take a year out and reapply for another subject, safe in the knowledge that their space on the Maths course was there if they wanted to come back to it. For what it's worth, they did return to Maths, and got a First.)
  • College had a silly obsession with replacing showers with baths about ten years ago (although this is slowly being reversed again in recent years, and it is possible to get a shower attachment to put on the tap if you want)

New College

The Good bits

  • There is no 'type' of New College student (aside from being friendly, lovely people). Some colleges have a reputation for attracting certain groups/types of people, New doesn't.
  • New College is extremely beautiful - the sort of place you imagine when you think of an old Oxford college. It is also relatively large both in terms of the number of students and its physical dimensions. Students are free to use the extensive gardens (and even walk/work/play on all the grass!) at any time and there are about 130 students in each undergraduate year and around another 200-250 postgrads.
  • New College is strong academically due to the excellence of its teaching even by Oxford standards, and therefore it usually comes pretty high up the Norrington table (not that this really matters), but at the same time it definitely isn't a college where academia is everything. It offers virtually all subjects, and most subjects have several tutors so you can do at least all of your core options in college.
  • The location of the college is absolutely ideal, being only a 5 minute walk from the centre of town yet also quiet and spacious. It’s also less than 5 minutes from the Exam Schools where lots of humanities lectures are held as well as from the Social Sciences, English and Law faculties. The science area is about 10 minutes walk or 3 on a bike.
  • Although there isn’t an obvious ‘Sports culture’ at New College as it happens we are in fact, for both men and women, very good at it and in 2010-11 New College JCR won the overall inter-collegiate Sporting cup. Our Sports ground is one of the best, being extremely well kept and only a three-minute walk from College, while the rowing club also has a well-equipped boat house on the river. The sports ground also houses the punt house where any college member can take a punt out in the summer.
  • The music scene at New College is second to none. Aside from the world-famous choir which can be heard singing evensong in the chapel every night apart from Wednesday we also have an extremely active music society, comprising of a top-of-the-range college orchestra, a mixed choir and, coming soon, a big band! These are all non-auditioning and hold fun and relaxed weekly rehearsals, usually followed by an hour in the college bar with a concert near the end of term. We are one of the only colleges to boast a high-quality piano (Steinway) which is put to weekly use in our Lunchtime Concert Series, an opportunity for singers and instrumentalists to perform to a sizeable audience in a lovely setting. Those students who are serious about their music can also apply for an Instrumental Bursary of £100 per term.
  • There is a fully kitted out and sound proofed band room that any college member can use if he/she wants. Jam nights are regular occurrences in the bar while there are also one or two chilled acoustic concerts held in college every term at 'Bryce's Coffee House'.
  • The common room has a massive plasma screen, really comfy sofas and sky HDTV, as well as additional computers/printers. Newspapers are provided daily and there is a chocolate machine, giant jenga and a pool table.
  • The bar is known for being one of the best in Oxford. It’s underneath our hall and has three 'rooms' on different levels. The barman puts loads of effort into making sure it stocks the drinks students want and the JCR puts on plenty of events such as quiz, poker and live sports nights when big games are on. There are comfy sofas, a pool table as well as some arcade games too.
  • New College takes pride in being an out-going college (one in which quite a few students ‘go out’ reasonably often), while the Bops (fancy dress nights) which take place in the bar are indubitably the best of all Oxford Colleges.
  • The library is well-stocked and very aesthetically pleasing. The books run ceiling to floor (so you get to use ladders to reach the top shelves) and there are plenty of desks for working on. There is a silent study area downstairs, and wireless internet access throughout the building.
  • Everyone gets their first two years accommodation inside the grounds of college and a fair few third years can be housed as well. Fourth years all get modern/recently refurbished accommodation within 5 minutes (max) walk of college.
  • Pretty much all the 'normal' rooms are of a good size and are generally very nice. There are a handful of generic university box rooms, but the average standard of accommodation is relatively high. There are also some truly massive rooms, some supplied with sofas, double beds and even separate studies. Honestly there are a handful of absolutely palatial rooms available, including but not limited to six single and twelve double flats (bedroom, bathroom and living area).
  • Every room has super fast internet access and around 90% of first years have ensuites, while those who don't won't be sharing with more than one other. After you first year you can opt to swap the ensuite for a kitchen when you choose your room for second year.
  • Great wifi coverage everywhere in college (except possibly in some bits of the gardens)
  • Everyone pays the same price for accommodation. The termly cost (2011) was around £1100. There is no elitism over your choice of room here (Some colleges charge more for larger rooms/ those with en suite/ double sets) which the JCR sees as very positive.
  • All the College staff are really friendly here.
  • Breakfast on weekdays and especially brunch on Saturday and Sunday is fabulous. Ever wanted a 3 course breakfast, including the full English any day you want with no effort on your part? Well you can!
  • Every three years we host one of the biggest, most lavish balls in the country. It’s white tie and lasts for 12 hours, and once you are in everything is free.


The Bad bits

  • Those studying a three year course at New College normally need to 'live out' in their third year unless they a) have personal circumstances meaning that need to live in college for all three years or b) are willing to put up with having a reletively poor (though still perfectly fine) room in their second year. Renting a house to live in can either be seen as a fairly expensive nuisance or an essential part of the student experience depending on your point of view. All fourth years can be accomadated in college.
  • Food is only reasonably good relative to other colleges and could be improved upon, while it is not the cheapest either. There is a termly charge of £175 for food, covering your evening meal 7 days a week. You can however sign out of each meal individually up to a week ahead, and get refunded.
  • No first years get kitchens. You can choose accommodation with access to a kitchen after the first year but this is generally traded off against having either only a shared bathrooms or a smaller bedroom. You aren't allowed anything beyond a kettle in the way of cooking equipment in your room.
  • The library is not 24 hours (its open 8.30am-12am 7 days a week). There are however facilities to work 24 hours a day in the Computer room and as of 2012 there will be a really nice room in College available to work in after midnight so it's really not a problem.
  • The size of the college means if you are looking for small and cosy New probably isn't for you (though it’s by no means vast or overwhelming)
  • We are not the most politically active college around. JCR meetings are usually well attended but there is rarely any major heated debate. However for many students this may be welcome.
  • The age of the buildings mean that disabled access isn't brilliant.
  • We no longer have a gym on site, but get free access to the uni gym down Iffley Road (about 10-15 minutes walk, 5 by bike). Swimming costs about £70 a year for membership or you can pay as you go.

Oriel College

The Good Bits

  • Oriel has a great family atmosphere and this is maintained by having all first and second years on site. All other students live in college accommodation opposite G&Ds in Cowley (great location for pubs/jamaican restaurants/arty cinemas). Whilst most colleges claim to be friendly, Oriel's small cohorts (about 89 per year); small physical size and excellent shared facilities (library; hall; bar) actually make this about the most cohesive college I know of. The porters know everyone's names, as does the librarian, and most of the staff. As a fresher, I once made the mistake of criticising a peer in the lodge, to be promptly shut up a porter: "He's an Oriel man" I was told: porters that feel the Oriel family spirit are indicative of the college as a whole.
  • Accommodation is mixed but in the process of being upgraded to a really high standard, the newly refurbished rooms give you mod-cons (i.e. ensuites) with restored historic features such as exposed beams, fireplaces (though these are extinct now), and the like. The island site has phenomenal accommodation, whilst the infamous Staircase 14 is dilapidated but extremely social.
  • Library is incredibly well stocked especially for the humanities and social sciences: over 100,000 books (including rare and precious ones, such as one of the original copies of the Magna Carta); it's open 24 hours a day and if Oriel doesn't have it you can either ask the librarian to buy it in for you, or walk less than two minutes [depends how long it takes you to cross the road] to the Bodleian!
  • Hall food is of good to sometimes great standard and the staff are well-known for being amongst the friendliest in Oxford, especially Michael the hall manager. Food is on a pay-as-you-go system so there's no obligation to eat in hall. Formal hall is something of an institution at Oriel and is available every night except saturday. Informal hall is provided every night. Sunday formal is one of the weekly social highlights, to which everyone goes in gowns, wine flows, and conversations continue long into the night in the bar afterwards.
  • Bar is quite cheap and staffed by students. During the daytime it doubles up as a bistro-café, serving soup, and is a good place to go to relax on the sofas. The bar is also the home of our bops, the Oxford college disco, which at Oriel are famous for their level of cheesy music! There's also now a flat-screen tv for all the football, rugby, and other important events including Eurovision [perhaps this is a 'bad thing?!']
  • With Christ Church next door Oriel is just off the tourist trail but right next to the Meadows, perfect for evening strolls, early morning runs, and of course: rowing!
  • Oriel's music and drama scenes are really exceptional. There's an Oriel drama society, which produces a couple of plays a year, as well as the annual '24 Hour Play' - a competition for anyone that wants to, to enter and come up with an entire play within 24 hours of being given the title. The 24 Hour Play is performed on the lawn of 2nd quad, and the college comes into its own as the entire community gets together to watch or take part. Laughs abound. Although there's not a lot else on in the college itself, a disproportionately large number of Oriel students get involved in drama (perhaps linked to Oriel's traditional strength in English), and several of Oxford's best directors and actors have been Oriel students over the past few years.
  • Music wise, the College's Provost puts on a Champagne Concert every term, inviting some of the world's best musicians to play for current students and alumni in the beautiful senior library. There's also a great Music Room, replete with Steinway piano etc., and termly orchestral performances in which the college's musicians, of varying standards (!), come together to perform in the University Church across the street, which Oriel owns.


The Bad Bits

  • Accommodation is pretty expensive, especially the better rooms. Oriel operates a tiering system and so you pay for what you get. Be warned though that the cheaper rooms are exactly that, cheap. These are unlikely to have been refurbished any time recently and have few mod-cons. That said, college is slowly eradicating these from its portfolio, and some people enjoy the 'character.'
  • Catering facilities on the main site are pretty basic. At JMH though there are fully equipped, shiny kitchens so self-catering is easy, especially with the shops on Cowley Road at your disposal.
  • Oriel's academic reputation is picking up steam, and College tutors genuinely want you to do your best. This can, however, mean a fair bit of pressure at times. That said, the abiding spirit in Oriel is one of fun and actively getting involved in extra-curricular activities, so if you feel you can manage your time and are ambitious for yourself this probably isn't too much of a problem.
  • The flip side of being a very tight knit college is that this can lead to the type of situations one often finds in small communities - 'in' groups and gossip; sometimes people feeling 'left-out.' Fortunately there's excellent welfare provision - the deans are all young grad students and really care, and those I've seen have these problems have subsequently found nice groups of friends and ended up very happy.

Pembroke College

The Good Bits

  • The Pembroke atmosphere is very friendly, and supportive.
  • Pembroke is well located - out of the very centre of Oxford but still within a couple of hundred metres of Cornmarket (the main shopping street). It's conveniently position for rowers (being literally half way between the city centre and Christchurch Meadows) and ice cream lovers, being next door to the St. Aldates branch of G+Ds. Also very close to pretty much all of the clubs.
  • For any J. R. R. Tolkien fans, he wrote 'The Hobbit' and the first two 'The Lord of the Rings' books here - reading the books in the place where he wrote them is a rather surreal experience!
  • Friendly staff/porters/tutors.
  • Very pretty gardens, and nice buildings.
  • Cheap and very nice food (highly debatable)(not even true!)
  • Small but cosy college
  • Library open 24 hours
  • As of 2012-3 academic year, guaranteed college accommodation for 3 years of your degree
  • Very active JCR
  • The wealthiest JCR in Oxford :)
  • Sporting colour is bright pink
  • Superb Corporate events - with no disregard for the students. *cough cough*
  • Pembroke is a VERY strong college for rowing - the only Oxford college in history to achieve 'Double Headship' (2003) in the Summer Eights

The Bad Bits

  • Price of accommodation. Pembroke is a pretty poor college and the accommodation prices reflect this
  • Distance to the science area (20 min walk) and Social Sciences Library
  • The college's fondness of fining people
  • The possibility of being in the Mac. Rooms are perfectly nice, but the building is a modern, ugly 60s horror.
  • The time formal hall takes sometimes (although its a good opportunity to talk to new people.)
  • Sporting colour is bright pink

The Queen's College

The Good Bits

  • Extremely friendly and welcoming college.
  • Well-sized: You get to know just about everyone in the college but enough people so you aren't forced to spend all your time with he same bunch.
  • Enjoys a good, central High Street location, conveniently opposite Exam Schools, and a short five minute walk to Cornmarket.
  • Has a reputation for being a 'Northern college'. This can be a good thing, as northerners are generally very nice people. There are still way more Southerners!
  • Accommodation for all three/four years.
  • Relaxed attitude to work - you are seldom pushed to your limits or over-worked, as you may experience in other colleges.
  • Fully refurbished Queen's Lane (now called Carrodus) Quad accommodation for 2nd years.
  • Most first years reside in the Florey Building, St Clements. It has unrivalled social qualities, and creates a really nice community.
  • Excellent sports facilities down Abingdon road - Football and Rugby pitches in Winter, Lawn tennis cricket and croquet in Summer, with hard court tennis all year round. Strong table tennis tradition in college.
  • Internet access in every student's room. They have no regard for enforcing University internet usage terms of agreement either.
  • The inventor of the web, Mr Tim Berners-Lee attended this college. What's that you say, you're on the internet right now?
  • We are never open for tourists.
  • Really good food. Lots of choice at lunch (currently 2 or 3 pasta options, a meat main, a fish main, and a vegetarian main at least, changed daily). Meals brought to you at dinner. Food served at the weekend.

The Bad Bits

  • College rents are high, and not everybody will get the room they want. However in recent times this seems to be getting better.
  • The Florey Building is a space ship from the 60's - not exactly up-to-date with all the mod cons. Is the other side of the Magdelen Bridge, for better or for worse. Worth it for the atmosphere though, by far.
  • Quite an apathetic college, so if you're into your politics or the Union, you might not feel at home.
  • Not the most impressive looking college, though it certainly isn't one of those tacky new-builds, and walking through the middle of front quad can still bring tears to the eyes.
  • Not enough space for everyone at dinner in the Hall, so spread over two sittings. Formal dinner (every Saturday) gets fully booked very quickly, so you often have to find your own food, and there are no kitchens available.
  • First years don't usually live on the main college site but down the road (in Florey or Cardo) instead. Some second years are in Cardo as well.

Regent's Park College

Regent's is a small, friendly, and socially outgoing college, almost unanimously loved by anyone who has anything to do with it. Accommodation is provided for the first and third year of study, with second year students living in rented accommodation. Regent's Park College is a Permanent Private Hall of the University of Oxford. PPHs operate in exactly the same way as traditional colleges, and the student experience is identical, but the college differs in far as it is funded from outside of the University. Upon the closure of Greyfriars Hall, Regent's took in their students, expanding the college size by about 30 people. Regent's also inherited Greyfriars' well known drinking society "Pope's", which legend has it was founded by Antipope Alexander V during his time in Oxford in the 1350s.

The Good Bits

  • FRIENDLY. Every Oxford college claims to be ‘the friendliest college’, but it is generally recognised that the smaller the college, the more friendly. Regent’s is no exception. Not everyone has visited Regent’s, but the first thing almost anyone who has visited says about the place is “Everyone is so nice!”
  • SMALL. Regent’s is small, but not too small. Everyone knows everyone, and so the JCR (common room) is a friendly and inviting place to be. Students always say they would happily sit at any table at lunch, as they will never be away from friends.
    • The other bonus of this: the community is very tight. Year groups mingle, undergraduates and postgraduates socialise, and there are no cliques or groups.
  • RELAXED. The low number of staff on site makes for a very relaxed college, especially in the evenings. Whilst help is always on hand should it be needed, Regent’s people tend to be very independent; more like members of a very large family than students in an institution.
  • BALANCED. Regent’s strikes a good balance of ‘traditional’ and ‘down to earth’. If you want Oxford traditions, we’ve got them: rowing, matriculation, formal hall, grace (said in Hebrew for some reason?!), a college tortoise (who has won the intercollegiate tortoise race several times), old books, giant portraits, etc. If you don’t want tradition, it is mostly optional. Oxford traditions at Regent’s are taken… well, as seriously as you take them. For example, first years at Regent’s are constitutionally known as ‘monarchs’ but nobody actually does this, and it’s only really there for fun!
  • CHEAP. Regent’s is not well off and so could probably do with charging more for everything, but it certainly works out well for the students!
    • RENT is very good value: around £3,000 a year for rooms – all of which are spacious, light, warm, well furnished, and many of which have beautiful views of the main quad.
    • FOOD is usually very good, and certainly very good value. Just over £3 for a 3 course meal. Regent’s is also the last Oxford college to still have waiters, making for relaxing meal times and no feeling that you are back in the school canteen.
    • BAR: the Prince Regent is the cheapest bar in Oxford. £1 for a shot and mixer (including Jagerbombs), £1.50 for a beer (of which there is an astonishing range). The bar is also entirely student run, giving students the opportunity for bar work and to run a business while at University. It varies between quiet nights in with a few beers, predrinks for nights out, snacks during sports matches, and occasionally bustling with people from across Oxford.
    • BALL: The Regent’s Ball, held annually in Trinity Term, is the cheapest in Oxford – and also recognised as one of the most extravagant and best value nights of the social calendar. The Ball is student run, and tickets start at £35.
    • PUNTING is free in summer term.
  • SOCIAL. Regent’s social events are popular across the University. They are known for some of the biggest parties, and infamous mischief (Google: Bod Quad Run). Socials usually include free alcohol. However, not all social occasions are boozy: there are also welfare events at which the JCR provides pizza or a meal out, etc.
  • ACADEMIC. Regent’s is not academically pushy, but performs well above average for the subjects that it offers.
    • Tutors are all experts in their fields. Not just in Theology, for which the college has a long tradition of excellence, but across the humanities and social sciences. Regent’s English Tutor, Dr Lynn Robson, was in 2013 named ‘most acclaimed lecturer’ in the Humanities.
    • Tutors are also very friendly. People who go to other colleges but who were interviewed at Regent’s always comment on how much they enjoyed their experience there
    • Small number of subjects means that what Regent’s does offer, it offers to a very high, specialised standard
    • You can also request a tutor from anywhere in the University. Students often speak highly of this system as it increases your chances of finding somewhere right for you.
  • SPORTY. Regent's is small and so doesn't have a large pool to draw its sports teams from. However, its rowing, football, tennis, croquet, darts, rugby, and table tennis teams are really pretty good for the size of the college.
    • Also, Regent's is in the unusual position of having a large number of excellent sports men and women competing for other college teams and at University level. This means you'll always find something of your desired standard to take part in.
  • BEAUTIFUL. The main college quad is more like a garden than a square – with blossom-laden trees, ivy on the walls, pathways, and regular croquet in play, it feels somewhat enclosed and secret.

The Bad Bits

  • MISUNDERSTOOD. Regent’s students get used to people thinking complete nonsense about their college.
    • Isn't that in London? No.
    • Doesn't that only do Theology? No.
    • Doesn't it have monks? No.
  • YOUNG. Outside of the University, not many people have heard of Regent’s, due to its being relatively young – although this is starting to change, as age tends to.
  • FAIRLY POOR. Regent’s does not have much money. This doesn't make that much difference to most students, and what money the college does have it is pretty generous with, but there is little extravagance or prestige.
  • LACKS 2ND YEAR ACCOMMODATION. Some people don’t like having to live out in 2nd year, but at least it’s the best year to do so; after you've settled in but before you start working for exams.
  • SUBJECT LIMITED. Regent’s doesn't offer the full spectrum of subjects. Obviously, this means what it does do it specialises in, but you’ll have to check to see if it offers what you want to study.
    • The library, whilst fantastic, large, and a great place to work, is very much dominated by Philosophy and Theology. You’re unlikely to find everything you need for History, etc, in there.
  • ARCHITECTURALLY 'VARIED'. Like most colleges, Regent's has its 60s eye sore. Luckily, ours is hidden away where nobody can see it. But really, whilst the college is mostly incredibly pretty... Balding Block really isn't a nice looking building.
  • INTENSE. The small size can make it feel a bit intense. Most students enjoy this, but… everyone knows everyone, and everyone knows everything about everyone. This isn’t a college where you can ‘coast’ along – there is a sense that everyone gets involved.

In conclusion

A real hidden gem. If you’re in Oxford for an open day, or at any other time, go and visit Regent’s. Almost everyone falls in love with it straight away – just not enough people discover it to start with.

Somerville College

The Good Bits

  • Incredible atmosphere - People are SO friendly there it's unbelievable.
  • You can walk across the grass!
  • We now have shiny new TVs!
  • Amazingly social!
  • 24 Hour library, which is one of the largest in Oxford.
  • Most buildings overlook the quad, which is really big and amazing to gather on in the summer.
  • Tutors are good, as well as being relaxed and realistic.
  • Brand new accommodation is opening this year.
  • Almost opposite the Engineering and Physics departments

The Bad Bits

  • Vaughan is possibly the ugliest building in the world (but you can't see it once you're inside it!)
  • Hall food isn't always great
  • Quite far from some faculties
  • Thatcher went here

St Anne's College

The Good Bits

  • Unpretentious atmosphere - you don't have to wear gowns for anything to do with college, and there's a general absence of stuffiness about most things.
  • You can live in for your whole course, and the Gatehouse aside all the accommodation is comfortable well-equipped with en-suite bathrooms for 3rd and some 2nd years if you want them. 1st years living only with other 1st years creates a nice community feel very quickly.
  • Hall food is really good. You don't have to book, or pay up-front, or wear gowns. Most people eat in hall so it always feels friendly and full. There's a great selection at lunchtime though dinner can be quite samey. The weekend brunch is famously good, with all the breakfast staples plus all sorts of slightly odd things like pies, pastries, curly chips, fruit salad, and chocolate cake.
  • If you don't want to eat in hall, the kitchens are good in most accommodation.
  • STACS is St Anne's Coffee Shop, a lovely cafe open from 9.30am to 6.30pm every day, serving all kinds of coffee and hot drinks, sandwiches, toasties, paninis, cakes, cookies and pastries. It has comfy leather sofas, tables to work at, and a widescreen TV. It's a social hub for college and a great alternative to hall as you can pay for everything on your bod card.
  • Formal is only once every fortnight, so it's a big occasion for which people do get properly dressed up (but no gowns) and make a night of it. Tickets sell out quickly but the secondary market tends to deliver if you really want to go and miss them on the day.
  • The Principal is very approachable (plain "Mr", unlike most Heads of House) and has very interesting media connections who speak at the weekly college seminars.
  • The JCR has recently been done up, as has the bar, and the new kitchens are in the process of being built. (HT12)
  • 24/7 library - don't knock it until you've tried it!
  • Music practice rooms with pianos open to all students, plus one further room with a grand piano and drum kit.
  • There are some quite pleasant gardens hidden away towards the south side of college. Also University Parks are literally right outside the back gate - perfect if you just want to get outside and get moving!
  • More modern and the slightly larger distance from town means no tourists, and generally slightly quieter than the hustle and bustle of the centre - obviously it's not far away from it either so you don't feel cut off, but gives you some much needed space sometimes. It also means to get to know people in college more quickly as you're all on site.
  • You can park in college when moving in. Getting away isn't much of a chore either.
  • It's close to Jericho and North Parade, which both abound with nice restaurants and pubs.

The Bad Bits

  • It's not old, which means no antique buildings and not much glorious history.
  • Lots of people seem to think it's still all-female.
  • The Wolfson\Rayne buildings and the Gatehouse are quite ugly. They are cleverly situated in the most prominent parts of college so that the rest of Oxford can share in their ugliness.
  • By the standards of Oxford, it is far away from the middle of town. This means a 10-15 minute walk, and might tip you towards getting a bike, which makes it about 5 minutes. It's not really much of a chore.

Conclusion

All in all, St. Anne's is quite unlike the stereotype of what Oxford is like, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what you want. You can still experience the traditional side of Oxford very easily though.

St Antony's College

The Good Bits

  • Arguably the best college for area studies and IR - if you want to be with students who almost exclusively do only your own field. Good site for networking.
  • World-known for area studies.
  • Off the tourist track.

The Bad Bits

  • Share your entire life with your coursemates and tutors - lunches, dinners, activities. Your subject tutors are also your academic supervisors.
  • Buildings completely lack atmosphere or beauty, it's basically a mix of two manor buildings and a few modern concrete purpose-built monsters of horrible architecture.
  • Friendly but unhelpful staff.

St Catherine's aka Catz

The Good Bits

  • Houses all students in the college for all years .
  • New rooms have just been built, all with en suite which the second years live in on site.
  • Very friendly, sociable and down to earth college. On nights out catz seems to make up half of the club at all student nights. (Though this is not always a good thing.)
  • Largest undergraduate college
  • Decent food in the hall, served dinner Monday - Friday, self-service Saturday and Sunday.
  • 'Scaf' Monday - Friday; this is an earlier meal which is a canteen service with the same menu every week.
  • Don't have to book meals so you can turn up to whichever meals suit you instead of commiting days in advance.
  • the 'Buttery'- open in the college bar between breakfast, lunch and dinner. Serves tea, coffee, cookies, toasties, sandwiches etc. should you get hungry/ want to procrastinate
  • Really good, large and cheap bar which is attached to our jcr. Games machines, pool tables, darts board all in the bar.
  • TV and sky in the JCR, with DVD player and newly installed sound system.
  • A private dining room - has a projection screen and DVD player, you can hire this out and play a DVD with friends converting it into a mini cinema
  • There is a gym on site with all the usual equipment and a full sized snooker table, I've been told we are the only college to have one.
  • Good sports teams - catz also takes part in most cuppers events. Takes rowing quite seriously
  • Music room with a Steinway, drum kit (think this is near the jcr though and not in the music room)
  • 3 Computer rooms, one next to the jcr/bar
  • Vending machines
  • Lots of spaces for bikes including a coded and covered bike shed.
  • One wall is covered in a glass window with blinds sandwiched between the glass.
  • Close to the Social science library, English and Law Faculties

The Bad Bits

  • Some don't see it as one of the most attractive colleges. The concrete walls may not appeal to those looking for classical architecture.
  • Can be cliquey as people live in all three years, some staircases in second year quad seen as "cool"
  • Despite being the largest college, everyone living onsite means gossip and rumours spread really fast, which can make an uncomfortable environment.
  • Horribly bare and grey student rooms.. there are nicer student rooms in Oxford
  • Semi-Isolated location (although not as bad as some other colleges). A 10 minute walk to shops can be grating after three years.
  • £25 charge for forgetting to hand in room key at the end of term or losing it.
  • The blinds in the bedrooms can be a pain; twist them one way and the light is shut out but people can see in, twist them the other way and you have privacy but also enough light to stop you sleeping in.
  • No breakfast/dinner on Sunday only Sunday lunch.
  • Everything in college is paid for using Bod cards, which means if you bring guests for dinner you have to pay for them.
  • Library is not 24hrs and closes at Midnight, although the college has recently designated a room in staircase 18 as a 24-hour work space.
  • You have to pay for hiring out the punts
  • The concrete walls mean that there is poor mobile reception with some providers.

St Cross College

The Good Bits

  • Beautiful buildings and well-maintained, pretty garden. Also has a small but attractive art collection
  • Small, you know at least half of the members by their face
  • Entertaining socials and dinners, especially Founder's Feast and Hilary Feast - the speeches by the Master are unique in Oxford!
  • More often than not bops
  • All-graduate college - people are all a little bit older, more mature
  • Best for: Computer Science, Health Studies, Development Studies, African Studies, Ethics, Social Policy
  • Central but free of tourists
  • Best quality lunch in Oxford and you get to eat with (and therefore question) the fellows
  • Near the Ashmolean and very close to several departments (the Oriental Studies faculty is literally metres away)
  • College bar has the largest selection of whiskey in Oxford. Seriously, it's huge.
  • Much of the accommodation is situated close to city center but further ones near Headington are available too. The rooms are expensive but still cheaper than some of the other colleges.
  • Lots of scholarships available (but you've got to be pretty amazing to get one of them)

The Bad Bits

  • Barely known inside and outside Oxford - not on the Oxford 'scene'
  • Can feel very claustrophobic and 'out on a limb' despite central location
  • Poorly endowed and resourced - food is expensive and the library and computer rooms are small
  • Loads of great fellows but few of them are really famous in their field
  • Students tend to form cliques
  • Very insular and introspective, never makes the headlines inside or outside Oxford

St Edmund Hall (Teddy Hall)

The Good Bits

  • The college spirit - Teddy Hall know how to get behind the student body and make themselves heard!
  • Reasonably central location - 5-10 minutes walk to town centre or to most of the faculties.
  • Small in terms of size of college, but large in terms of student numbers. This means that everyone gets to know each other very easily and it's easy to make new friends. The general college atmosphere is friendly, laid-back and down-to-earth.
  • Generally a fairly relaxed attitude towards academic stuff, although we do OK in the Norrington table.
  • A bit of a 'party college'- there are always loads of teddies out at nights out.
  • Great bops - 'the biggest dancefloor in Oxford' apparently. Bops are discos in college - very cheap alcohol and the music is usually quite cheesy!
  • Sporty - I think we're currently champions in men's and women's football, always in the top 3 for rugby, head of the river in women's rowing etc. We also quite often win random things. To those who don't like sport: Don't worry, I did no sport at all and came out with lots of friends and didn't feel I'd missed out on anything.
  • Large rooms especially in 1st year, including some rooms with balconies
  • With its front door located down Queen's Lane rather than in an obvious position, Teddy Hall doesn't get too many tourists in!
  • Very pretty front quad!
  • The graveyard - our library is in a former church and we tend to relax here in the summer. It's very pretty and not nearly as odd as it sounds.
  • The bar actually looks like a pub and is decorated with sports trophies rather than the more conventional student bars.
  • The choir is non-auditioning and they get free formal on Sundays.
  • Free use of JCR punt for a flat fee paid on battels in summer term.
  • Excellent welfare team and regular free cake...
  • Womens' lunch: free lunch for girls several times a term. A great chance to gossip away from the boys. This term the womens reps are doing strawberries and cream once a week instead.
  • All the staff (porters, scouts, maintenance men etc) are incredibly friendly and really make you feel at home.
  • The food used to be dreadful and is still called "ming" out of force of habit... but there's a new chef now and it's lovely. Really. There's so much variety and almost everything is yummy – our dinnertime discussions are now along the lines of "I was really stuck for choice" rather than ":(".

The Bad Bits

  • Being relatively "new" and therefore owning little in the way of assets, Teddy Hall is poor, so rent and food prices are high. Think we have some of the highest battels (rent/money for dinners etc.) in the university.
  • Formal is only available on Tuesdays, apart from to choristers who also eat formal hall on Sundays following evensong.
  • Most people live out in the 2nd year, although there is usually an opportunity to live in college accommodation in Cowley if you really want. (However since almost everybody lives out finding flat mates is easy and it's a bit of an adventure!)
  • In the first year, you may have to climb up to 6 flights of stairs to get to your room - but it'll have a great view! (The Kelly building is apparently the tallest building in Oxford without a lift) (NB not all rooms are this high!)
  • You can't work in the library, except the vestry, after 1 am. This has been extended in Summer Term 2008 so that it shuts when the last person leaves, but it's not clear whether this is just for the term or whether it will continue.
  • We have a reputation for being 'rah'. It's not particularly true.
  • En Suite accomodation is usually only available in 3rd year and otherwise bathrooms are often shared between quite large numbers e.g. 3 showers and 2 toilets between 12 in the Kelly building. People very rarely have to queue as everyone has such different timetables, but it can be irritating.

St Hilda's

The Good Bits

  • Hilda's enjoys a lovely location right on the river, allowing the college to keep its own punts literally at its back gate where they can be hired out for free.
  • Being on the far side of the Magdalen Bridge means that while still relatively close to the city centre, St. Hilda's is far enough away to be of little attraction to tourists. It also means that it's one of the few colleges where even those living in college are near enough to Cowley Tescos (Normally students will shop at the central supermarkets which are smaller and may be pricier) The location near Cowley also makes flat-hunting for the second year more convenient
  • Very relaxed atmosphere which is something not to be overlooked. In some colleges, academic pressures placed on students, especially in their first year, are huge, whereas in Hilda's the general attitude of tutors seems to be that you can do the work if you want, much more adult and less like school.
  • We have a student-run Buttery, selling sweets, crisps, drinks at discounted prices. You can also get toasties and bagels for as little as £1!
  • We have one of the only student run bars in Oxford, which means near-cost prices and 'pound-a-pint' (or glass of wine) nights every Thursday. There are also opportunities to work (for real money) in the bar, so a good way of earning a bit extra.
  • Our bops are held at various clubs around Oxford, as opposed to 'in-college' which is cool.
  • We have the legendary 'End of Term Party' or 'Drink the Bar Dry' at the end of every term where drinks are steadily reduced in price throughout the evening to clear stocks in the bar.
  • Wednesday 'formal' meals are optional, so if you've got lots of work to do, or can't be bothered putting on sub fusc and smart clothes, you don't have to.
  • Near the whole East Oxford scene - the Cowley road is full of interesting clothes shops, ethnic food restaurants including Greek, Russian, Italian, Chinese, Indian, Portuguese, Lebanese and many more. There are really cool (and cheap) cocktail bars, a G&D's which sells ice cream sundaes half price between 10pm-Midnight during the week, an independent cinema which happens to be the cheapest in Oxford, as well as a multitude of bike shops to buy and get your bike repaired.
  • Very active drama society that puts on a play each term with our own rehearsal and performance space in college.
  • College orchestra and choir.
  • Lovely traditions like the 'Carols on the Stairs' - everyone gathers in the foyer of one of the buildings to sing carols and mince pies and mulled wine are served.
  • Reasonably good food although pricing system a bit odd. The canteen has just been done up and added to slightly better food is a FairTrade coffee machine and wide selection of chocolate! It's also open for longer. Rather than traditional long bench tables there are round tables that seat 10/12 people, making for a much more sociable eating style.
  • Not very insular - most are active in societies etc outside college
  • The Jacqueline du Pré building, home to a number of sizeable practice rooms as well as several concerts every week is on site.
  • Rooms of a decent size with sinks and shared kitchens/showers/toilets. In 3rd year there is an option to live in en suite accommodation.
  • Plenty of secure bike racks inside college grounds.
  • You can use the Oxford University gym/swimming pool free of charge if you're at St Hilda's. It's on Iffley Road which is only a 2 minute cycle ride away.
  • There are tennis courts available for free in the summer term.

The Bad Bits

  • You have to live out in 2nd year, although overseas students can live in college. (Although this could be construed as a positive thing - you gain valuable experience learning how to deal with utilities, house hunting etc and 95% people really enjoy it!)
  • You don't get food at the weekends apart from Saturday brunch, and Sunday roast (which are both very nice!)
  • Some kitchens don't have a hob or oven - microwave cookery/ready meals are essential (But you can buy equipment as a floor quite cheaply and put in there without a problem e.g. a £20 portable hob with two rings between 14 of you is nothing really)
  • Library is not 24 hours - you can't go and get the books you need at 2am for the essay due in at 9am! However it is open 8.30am-1am and so by no means that unreasonable.
  • It's not a 2 minute trip to Boots/WHSmiths/Zara etc. You have a 10 minute walk into town. This isn't far though and exercise is good! How much last minute shopping will you really need to do anyway?
  • When living in college, you put £155 a term on your university card and while this balance will be transferred if you have some left over at the end of term, you must use it all before the end of the year. (This can easily be achieved by buying fruit/snacks/some cooking ingredients there at various stages, and most people don't find it a problem to use it all up, only those who insist on eating out all the time really.)
  • The location on the far side of Magdalen Bridge, while useful for Cowley and Tesco's means that going to lectures etc (especially if you're a scientist) can be a bit of a mission - you're advised to get a bike! But on a bike nothing is further than 10 minutes away.
  • The library catalogue isn't listed on OLIS (the internal library service) which can be a bit of pain when researching books. Although the problem is easily resolved by just searching on the Hilda's library catalogue first which is also online.

St Hugh's College

The Good Bits

  • Beautiful gardens, with lots of lawn for playing rugby, football, ultimate frisbee, croquet, and so forth. Lots of trees and flowers and shady spots too, and and MCR and JCR BBQ. Tennis/netball/basketball courts on site too, and lots of other sports facilities a few minutes away by bike at a shared sports ground. Fairly spectacular in the summer especially.
  • Very friendly, large but small enough that you get to know pretty much everyone, at least by sight.
  • Plenty of kitchens (although can be pretty small in some first year accommodation) so you can cook for yourself, although hall is pretty good and apparently reasonably priced. There's no kitchen charge so self-catering really is an attractive option.
  • Some of the nicest and most genuine people I've ever met
  • Cheap bar!
  • Plenty of space, with accommodation guaranteed for all years of your course (as an undergraduate, though with a lot of graduate accommodation too), and enough ensuite rooms for pretty much any second year onwards who wants one. Some lovely old rooms with fireplaces and sash windows, and a good handful with their own balcony.
  • Next to North Parade, which is a wonderful little road with sandwich bars, restaurants and so forth - very quaint, with streamers and lights permanently hung across the street. Near Jericho, a wonderfully bohemian place, with some good bars and restaurants.
  • Relaxed, with no need to wear gowns for formal hall (which happens once a week).
  • Pretty Art Deco library, open 24 hours. Librarians always seem happy to buy any book they don't have which you want, although this has never happened to me personally yet - there's a pretty comprehensive selection.
  • Rent is allegedly still below the median for Oxford (although it's hardly cheap!), which for prestigious and leafy North Oxford is an achievement. It's considerably cheaper than renting for the year.

The Bad Bits

  • Quite far out, as colleges go, but it's all relative; only five minutes by bike from the Science site and right by some Arch and Anth buildings. A bit further from town and the clubs, and a fair trek from the university sports complex. On the upside, close to another sports centre with a much nicer and cheaper pool, and we only really get tourists in the summer.
  • Not as old as some colleges, with Victorian buildings (we were founded about 120 years ago), and of course the obligatory 1960s block (which isn't actually all that bad as they go ... it has won awards, although it's not clear why).
  • No undercover bike storage around the back of college, where a lot of people park.

St John's College

The Good Bits

There are three main reasons to apply (in addition to the awesome people):

  • Central location, hence easy to reach get anywhere in the city (especially close to the science area, maths, languages, classics), yet not so central that parking at beginning/end of term is tricky. Large new university site is being built very close by which will house a large humanities library, maths department, etc. Despite this location, there are rarely tourists getting in your way around college.
  • Accommodation on the main central site for the whole of your course - no need to worry about finding houses. This means you tend to know/recognise everyone in college, adding to overall friendliness. And if you do want to live in a house with friends, there are college owned houses on Museum Road (so close it's essentially the same site) which you can live in with friends, yet still pay only the cheap college accommodation fees, and be near college facilities. (Also accommodation is excellent, some huge rooms. Unusually, every room has a fridge provided. And also unusually, bedding is provided - you get clean bedding every two weeks.)
  • Richest of all Oxford colleges, hence:
    • cheap food (e.g. as of 2012/13 even formal hall costs only £3.63, with lunch around two thirds this price depending what you choose)
    • cheap accommodation (as of 2012/13 ranges between £975.61 and £1127.11 per term) and vacation grant which lets you stay for free in Oxford for up to 21 days a year outside term time.
    • £288 academic grant for everyone. It's mainly used for books but laptops, kindles, etc are also covered! (over a three year course, that's £864 of free stuff...)
    • generous travel grants (not necessarily for academic purposes)
    • free printing (two computer rooms)
    • our JCR receives a lot of money (an annual budget of £30,000) to pay for entertainment, Fresher's Week, welfare, societies, and anything we decide we want.

Facilities:

  • Sports facilities: two squash courts and three free gyms on site. Sports ground 10-15 mins walk from college.
  • Fun places: Table tennis room, chess room, games room, TV room, DVD/xbox room
  • Social spaces: bar, JCR, Kendrew café (this is also a relaxed area to work in)
  • Amazingly pretty gardens, which are very large
  • Auditorium
  • Excellent library - beautiful surroundings, long opening hours and seems to be well-stocked for most subjects; if you request a book, the library will normally buy a copy if it's going to be useful to you and future students. The library isn't 24/7 (but open until middnight/2am depending on time of year) but we do have a 24/7 study space which was refurbished in 2014.
  • Most rooms have kitchen access (every first year has a kitchen; in later years you can choose a room based on personal priorities) although some of them are small and limited in facilities (most first years get a kitchen which is only shared with three others, but has no microwave or oven)
  • Wifi across the whole of college.

Events:

  • Breakfast, lunch and informal hall every day, plus formal hall six times a week (all meals are optional, with a pay as you go system)
  • Twice termly 'Guest Dinners' - five courses, themed dinners to which you can bring two guests from home/other colleges, although most people just go with college friends and get riotously drunk, aided by champagne reception beforehand and port/baileys afterwards
  • Good subject dinners held either termly or annually, some with guest speakers, some without.
  • Lots of welfare events - e.g. free lunches, Tommy White teas, wine down, JCR desserts and welfare evenings. There is free food everywhere.
  • Annual fireworks display
  • Bops (fancy dress parties for everyone in college) take place every two weeks and they run from 10 to 1am (so more often and later than most colleges). But lately (2012/3) college have got strict on letting non-John's students in.
  • Punt club in the summer term means cheap access to punting
  • Academic Feedback sessions are a chance for everyone to anonymously provide feedback on their tutors and teaching and any other aspect of the college's academic provision.

Other good things:

  • Median sized year group (c.115) small enough that you know lots of people as you walk around, but big enough that there's plenty of people to get to know
  • DVD collection allows you to borrow films for free
  • Board game collection, lots of fun to be had!
  • Large and valuable art collection built up over the last century means you can choose a piece of art to hang on your wall
  • SJCtv - Oxford's only student TV station, means you can borrow camera equipment
  • The John Doe - our own satirical college newspaper (fairly inactive, as of 2014)
  • Consistently around the top of the Norrington Table
  • Although it has a reputation for being enthusiastic but not great at sport, this is in fact incorrect with the women's first boat being head of the river in summer eights, and winners of cuppers in a number of mainstream sports including crisket and squash, as well as minority sports like ultimate frisbee and sailing.
  • Nice chapel, with a very good (and well paid) choir and a friendly chaplain. Choir sings briefly (in latin!) at the start of Sunday formal hall, which is nice novelty that other colleges don't seem to have.
  • Could potentially be a con, but generally college is apolitical and laid back about most issues (Second writer: Maybe things have changed over the last few years, but the JCR does now discuss political issues and has recently taken strong stands on issues like tuition fees. However, the atmosphere is friendly and inclusive rather than intimidating and "hack-ish", and there's plenty of people of all political persuasions and none within the student body at large.)
  • Strong art, music and drama scenes; even if you're not actively involved, there's never a shortage of plays, exhibitions and concerts to go to! There are regular free recitals by professional musicians which are always worth going to. A non-auditioning orchestra (Oxford Open Orchestra) and wind band (Oxford University Symphonic Band) are open to all university members, but rehearse within college. There are practise rooms for musicians to use.
  • Mix of state-educated and private-school people makes for a diverse atmosphere where everyone feels they fit in, and the "rah" scene which some people find offputting about other colleges is virtually non-existent. Linked to this, we have a Student Ambassador Scheme to help encourage students from less well-off backgrounds to apply.
  • Discounts scheme to help us save money around Oxford
  • In December 2011 St John's was ratified as a Fairtrade college and this was renewed a year later (e.g. our tea/coffee is fairtrade)
  • Opportunities to get paid: helping at open days, interviews, and ringing alumni.

The Bad Bits

Hmm... well generally St John's is amazing, but a few factors:

  • College has something of a geeky reputation - whilst there is always a proportion of the year who regularly go out and go to all available events, there are also a few people whom you never see, and are therefore probably working. You get questions like, 'Ooh, St John's! Isn't everyone incredibly hardworking?' (answer: no)
  • Food can be patchy - some things can be really nice and other times just ick. A prevalence of chicken in Hall. There's enough choice at lunch that this is rarely a problem, but there is only one option at dinner (plus a vege option).
  • The bar is somewhat lame compared to lots of other colleges, and is quite often fairly empty (second writer: it seems to be fairly busy at present)
  • Sports teams tend to be enthusiastic, but generally lacking in actual successes. Though there are exceptions, for example squash, women's rowing (head of the river in 2013 summer eights!!), netball, rounders and ultimate frisbee (2013 League Champions) where we actually seem to do quite well.
  • There's a collection of rooms used by the JCR, rather than a single large room, which is unlike other colleges (although this doesn't really matter and is perhaps a good thing, because the people watching TV don't get in the way of those playing games or of those just chatting, etc) This means there's not really a single social hub where people congregate when they're not busy, although the bar fulfils this function to some extent.
  • Despite being relatively large in terms of student numbers, gossip is still able to travel fast (although this is the case at all colleges, and part of the unique Oxford experience...), especially when everyone lives in such close proximity and Tommy White affords such good opportunities for observing people sneaking out of staircases in the middle of the night...!
  • O2 (including Tesco and giffgaff) reception can be very poor, and Vodafone is quite bad too. Consider other networks if possible.
  • The fact that everyone lives in college for all three/four years, while obviously a plus point, also has its downsides in that it could potentially feel a bit insular, and students don't get the experience of living out in Cowley with friends for a year like many other colleges do. (Although if you did want to live out, e.g. with friends from other colleges, you could.)
  • While much of the architecture is beautiful, and the grounds and gardens are really nice, the communal areas (namely the bar, JCR rooms and meeting rooms) are modern and can feel a little sterile and soulless. Don't get me wrong, they're good facilities, but it can feel like you're missing out on the cosy wood-panelled rooms and atmospheric cellar bar that are a feature of some of the older colleges. Although some of the buildings on site are not the most aesthetically pleasing (apparently they're important examples of post-modern architecture though...), this is counterbalanced by the fact that we can live on site all the time which I think more than compensates for a bit of unsightliness - after all, all colleges have their concrete disasters somewhere.

St Peter's College

The Good Bits

  • General - In 2012, there was a 96% undergraduate satisfaction rate with college - the 4th best in Oxford. From 2010-12, Peter's is rated as having the best social activities and facilities of any Oxford college, with a 99% satisfaction rate. The college itself is medium-sized, with three quads, master's garden and a law building. St Peter's is an extremely social and active college, with one of the strongest JCRs. In 2010, there was a 96% satisfaction rate with arrival experience - the 2nd best in Oxford. We also have the 5th best college welfare support. Most importantly, we have a college turtle.
  • Location - St Peter's is right in the middle of the city centre, so shopping is easy. We're right next to the History faculty, and just 2 minutes' walk away from OUSU offices, Oxford Union and the free nightclub the Purple Turtle. Just 1 minute away from George Street which has a multitude of places to eat as well as Odeon and 2 theatre houses (Burton Taylor and Oxford Playhouse). 2 minutes' walk from Oxford coach station, very close to 2 taxi ranks in Gloucester Green & Queen Street, and very close to all the major bus stops on the High Street.
  • The JCR - The Junior Common Room is home to a large TV, comfy leather sofas, vending machines, a pool table, a table tennis table, a table football table and a constant supply of all the major national newspapers, with entertainment events often organised (e.g. poker nights, hen/stag nights, fortnightly bops, pub quizes, film nights...) The JCR Committee hold General Meetings every other week, and is extremely active. Welfare tea is held on the same day as GMs, so there's the opportunity for free food as well as free speech!
  • The Bar - Brand-spanking new and lavish. Unlike most other colleges, our bar is fully student-run and staffed which lets us pick the drinks, create the atmosphere and employ the students. This means that the bar is a great place to start a night out or just go for a quiet drink in the evening with a couple of friends. It has a great collection of memorabilia on the walls which gives it a distinctive Peter's character, while recent refurbishment has made it an extremely comfortable place to be whether you're working or drinking. Outside, the Johnny Fraser memorial garden is a great place to be on warmer days in Trinity term. Prices are very reasonable and any profit goes straight back into the running of the bar, so that the managing team can continue to improve it, and keep prices low. It's frequently visited by members of other colleges who say how great it is.
  • The Library - Large and attractive, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It's a really useful resource - it will have many of the books you need for your course and it is also a great place to work.
  • Music/The Chapel - There are a variety of opportunities to play music at St. Peter’s, both in a formal and informal context. For your own personal or group practice it is possible to book the music room, or use the chapel, both of which have pianos. More formal musical activities include the twice weekly evensong performed by the Chapel Choir, with auditions taking place in 0th week. Other classically orientated musical activity includes the fortnightly series of student recitals on Tuesday lunchtimes, with additional recitals together with large scale orchestral concerts. Less formal musical activities include open mic nights and jam sessions.
  • Arts - St. Peter’s takes the arts seriously and has a reputation for doing so, but at the same time has a very relaxed and open-minded attitude towards people’s ideas and involvement. Regular opportunities for artistic expression include open mic nights, jazz evenings, jam sessions, and other recitals and performances hosted in college, as well as the opportunity to contribute to the termly publications of the college arts magazine, MISC, or the satirical Peterphile. For freshers, the drama cuppers competition in Michaelmas term offers a great opportunity to act in and produce short plays. St Peter’s has recently started its own drama society ’Cross Keys’ which has since put on two successful productions in Trinity term and is looking to do more throughout the year. Every Trinity all our Arts events culminate in Arts Week where we aim to get as many people as possible involved in doing as many arty things as possible! The most important thing for the Arts at Peter’s is ideas and involvement—there really is something for everyone.
  • Sport - St Peter's is known for its sporting prowess, especially in rowing. We also offer football, rugby, netball, cricket, tennis, lacrosse, badminton, hockey, rounders, croquet, table football and table tennis!
  • Accommodation - The majority of Peter's accommodation is arranged around corridors, which means that while everyone has their own space, the proximity of everyone to each other provides a strong sense of community. Although there is access to fridges in all accommodation blocks, most people eat in the dining hall in their first year. All rooms have single beds, plenty of storage space and sinks.
  • The Porters - The best in Oxford.
  • Misc.
  • Lots of famous alumni, including the Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney, TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, film-maker Ken Loach and the guy who invented Thomas the Tank Engine!
  • Extremely sociable college, there are always people out if you want to go for a drink or clubbing.
  • Former home of the YouTube star SimonOxfPhys!
  • You're likely to bump into people a lot and therefore get to know everyone (about 110 per year).
  • You will always have someone to sit next to in the dining hall due to said reason.
  • Not snooty.
  • College annexe accomodation is pretty new on Thomas/Paradise St. (accomodation for 2nd + 3rd years)
  • Free gym membership to Iffley Road sports complex.
  • Mark Damazer

The Bad Bits

  • Quite far from Iffley Road sports complex: 8 minute bike ride, 25 minute walk.
  • Relatively far from science departments: 4 minute bike ride, 15 minute walk.
  • The college is increasing the workload on future years (though that may be a good thing).
  • Accommodation is a little more expensive than some others - though we did recently get a £5 million donation. Also, there are barely, if any, grants for subjects or sports. Don't expect to be able to claim back £250 worth of books.
  • JCR kitchen poorly equipped and too small. Not really practical to cook meals yourself if you live in college. But you won't really need to.

Trinity College

The Good Bits

  • Brilliant community - first- and second-year students live in college, which means you get to know the year above and below really well. Everyone is generally really friendly and easy to talk to, and people tend to want to help you out whenever they can. Freshers also get assigned two college parents from the year above at the beginning of their first term, who can answer any questions, help out with any problems and generally make settling in to college life a lot easier.
  • Openness - it's possible to see out into the "real world" from most places in college, as we're not behind massive stone walls like most of the other older colleges.
  • The massive back lawns - and that we can walk, play croquet and boules, build snowmen, eat, drink and generally doss around on them all year round.
  • Food - the food here is incredible, simply put. You can get lunch in hall 5 days a week for around £2-£4 depending on how hungry you are. The selection's usually between 4-5 hot dishes, a selection of vegetables and sides, soups and a salad bar, as well as a selection of fruit and desserts. Breakfast in hall's a bit early (8-9am), but worth it for a £1.50 full English. Brunch on the weekends is an absolute lifesaver, and is served 10-12am. But the best thing about Trinity food are the...
  • Dinners - Formal Hall served 5 days a week (Sunday-Thursday), then Guest Night (very formal hall!) on Fridays, with self-service dinner on Sundays. At Formal Hall you can get a three-course, waiter-served meal for £4.13 - and you don't have to dress up for it, just throw on your gown over whatever clothes you've got on already. Guest Night's significantly more expensive (£18), but for a five-course formal meal - where you can show Trinity off to friends and relatives - this isn't actually that bad, especially if you only go once or twice a term.
  • Location - Trinity's right in the middle of Oxford, meaning it's pretty easy to get places quickly. The distance from front gates to Sainsbury's is the same as the length of the lawns, with Tesco 10 seconds further. The Bodleian Library and the Radcliffe Camera are just over the road, and the majority of subject facilities and libraries are a 10-15 minute walk away, if that.
  • Societies and clubs - whatever your interests, there'll be something for you. - Trinity's got clubs ranging from debating to philanthropic, from social to sporty, from journalistic to photography, and it's easy to set up your own society if you feel something's lacking.
  • First-year rooms - these are either in brand new staircases, or beautiful old buildings.
  • Second-year rooms - amazing, especially if you manage to get a room on Garden Quad looking out over the back lawns.
  • Good work/play balance - tutors care about your academic results but the atmosphere is not too pressured, meaning you can go out as much or as little as you want and still fit in extra-curricular activities.
  • Excellent beer cellar - friendly staff, Ben and Jerry's ice-cream, lots of squishy sofas, table football, the cheapest protein shakes in Oxford and a huge TV!
  • The library - open 24/7, well stocked, generally comfortable and excellently funded (requests for books can be handled in the same day).
  • Financial support - there are bursaries for everything, although people don't know about them a lot of the time.
  • Bathrooms - three or so staircases with ensuite bathrooms, including some available to first years. Most other rooms have bathrooms between no more than 8-12 students. All bathrooms are cleaned 5 days a week.
  • Disabled facilities - there are lifts and ramps to all vital parts of college, disabled bathrooms and specially adapted living accommodation.
  • Sports facilities - actively used squash court in college (recently fitted with a basket ball hoop!) along with a good, but rather rower-orientated gym. We've got our own sports grounds and dozens of assorted sports teams, from rowing to rugby to Dancesport to ultimate frisbee.
  • Colour printing, photocopying and scanning - free! (within reason...)
  • Aesthetically pleasing - have you seen the buildings!? (not that we're biased or anything...).
  • Excellent Welfare and Diversity support system - you'll always find someone to talk to or to help you, whatever your concern.
  • Atmosphere of tolerance - whoever you are, you'll be accepted into college life.

The Bad Bits

  • Quite expensive, particularly rent which is one of the highest for any college (but there are a lot of bursaries on offer and college do whatever they can to support you if you're in financial difficulty).
  • The computer room and the computer section of the library get crowded and during finals.
  • Noisy drunken students on Broad Street late in the evening during term, making sleep rather tricky in a couple of the staircases.
  • Some of the architectural choices are questionable (staircase 4).
  • The security gate at the front entrance - it can get in the way.
  • JCR is relatively small, although big enough for a massive TV, huge squashy sofas, a pub games machine, pool table and a ping-pong table.
  • JCR kitchen is small and sometimes inadequate at times for everyone who wants to use it. A recent refurbishment has improved the previously bad situation, the new kitchen being cleaner, brighter and better ventilated. As of Michaelmas 2011 two fresher staircases have had their neglected kitchenettes furnished with microwaves and toasters, helping to alleviate the strain on the JCR kitchen.
  • Pretty far from Cowley and the Iffley Road sports complex, but if you've got a bike or don't mind the walk it's really not that bad

University College

The Good Bits

  • Atmosphere - it's ridiculously friendly!
  • Being at the oldest college - gives it a certain prestige with random Americans and means you matriculate first!
  • Very central - on the High Street, next door to exam schools (where many lectures and exams take place) - makes early starts easier and minimises the chance of you sleeping through finals.
  • Bursaries - the college spends *loads* of money on bursaries, more per student than any other higher education institute in the country. There are book grants, hardship grants, travel grants, scholarships etc.
  • 24-hour library on-site.
  • Bar and kitchens were recently refurbished
  • Food - lots of choice, pay-as-you-go on your bod card (unlike some colleges where you pay a fee for the term) and best of all... the brunch at weekends!
  • Formal hall 3 times a week (though non-formal is on every day as well) and unusually, you can book in up to 10 guests!
  • Sport - won Rugby Cuppers in 2010, squash courts on-site, college ski trip, free use of the uni gym on Iffley Road
  • Best boathouse on the river - rebuilt and opened in 2007 after the old one burnt down; has a gym and underground heating

The Bad Bits

You could say that it's pretty standard... there's nothing extreme about Univ. It's academic but not insanely so, foods fine, it's pretty but not especially grand, quite large, quite good at sport, societies are reasonable, bar's pretty good, etc. You occasionally hear vague talk of people "finding it stuffy" but that's pretty much Oxford for you!

Third year accomodation, if you don't want to get private accomodation, is about a 10 minute cycle ride away.

Wadham

'THE GOOD BITS

Friendly Atmosphere/ Liberal Reputation

  • Wadham has a very inclusive reputation - whether that'd of women (Wadham was one of the first colleges to go mixed), people from state schools and ethnic minorities, and gay students (hence the infamous Queer bop). This leads to a laid back and friendly atmosphere. However, it's not simply 'the gay college' or 'the state school college' - you just find a real mix of people compared to some other colleges.
  • Really diverse student population; very inclusive environment. So friendly and completely not judging of others. Lots of lovely people.
  • Successful academically but equal emphasis on extra curriculars and having fun as well. Great social life.
  • Not a 'pressured' environment- your tutors are really supportive and it would take a lot to annoy them.
  • Friendly atmosphere- less competition between students; everyone is willing to help each other, share notes etc. I've been told this is not the case elsewhere.
  • The large size of Wadham means that there's more chance of you finding a group of friends with whom you share common interests.
  • A total lack of formality in Hall (the second biggest in the university after christchurch) - you turn up and eat!
  • Great relationship between year groups- you get a college 'mum and dad' in the year above and the 2nd years have house parties. Feels like a massive community.
  • Great welfare support if things get too much

Central location

  • In the centre of Oxford and close to most subject departments including the science park. The Bodleian is less than a minute from your front door; the beautiful university parks are next door.

Great facilities in college

  • Great common room with arcade games, sky TV, sandwich bar, a pool table and giant leather sofas
  • It's has its own pub (the King's Arms) on campus
  • The beautiful front quad
  • Lots of variation on type of rooms- modern/older/shared living room/single... but all pretty massive and all of great quality.
  • It's a rich college so facilities are good, including large, well-furnished rooms- all rooms cost same amount so no segregation between those who can afford better rooms and those who can't.
  • Moser theatre, which puts on new student plays each week, right on site.
  • Has two quads and also massive gardens where you are encouraged to walk on the grass :)
  • 24 Hour, modern self-service library with huge bay windows and beanbags for reading.
  • You get college accomodation in Wadham for the most stressful years: 1st, when you don't know anyone; and 3rd, when you are doing your final exams and need to be in a central location. Some colleges house you for the first 2 years, but make you live out in the year when you have important exams.
  • The food's getting better, brunch on Saturday is always good, college have started doing Sunday roasts, and when it's warm and sunny in Trinity no-one cares if you take your dinner outside and eat in the bar quad. Two dinner sittings as well, the first canteen-style if you haven't got time to/don't want to wait around to be served in Hall.
  • The porters are mostly friendly and helpful, and unlike some other colleges everyone gets their own pigeon hole for mail.
  • Beautiful chapel that often gets used for student concerts, and we have one of the oldest music rooms in Europe (Holywell Music Room) right in the middle of college where there are concerts almost every day.

Entz

  • Bops every 2 weeks- this is great because many other colleges only have about 2 a term. Wadham is infamous :)
  • Has its own all day music festival Wadstock that attracts people from all over the university (but Wadhamites get in free whilst others pay, just like Queerbop)
  • Only college with a mixed JCR and MCR, so plenty of interaction between undergraduates and graduates - EDIT: this really does not mean much in practice. There is hardly any undergrad/grad mixing, with the exception of sports teams (mainly rowing)/ one rep from the MCR attends SU meetings. But that's it.
  • Bar opens out onto a sunny, grassy quad instead of being underground like in many colleges
  • QUEER BOP


THE BAD BITS

  • No 'formal' hall (Essentially this just means that you don't wear a gown; we DO have dinner in hall!)
  • Accommodation is only provided for two years (First year, and final year). The college does own an apartment complex in north Oxford called 'Merifield; as with college rooms you don't get charged for things like water or electricity and things like university network connections are provided, but it's a bit of a trek back into town and there's not much on offer for students in north Oxford. Some other colleges do have apartment blocks that are in closer to town/in better locations. Most 2nd years choose to live out in Cowley so that they're in a more 'studenty' environment, plus then everyone's in the same place. Personally, I think that it benefits you to have lived out 'in the real world'. If this isn't for you then you can, of course, apply for Merifield- but the majority of people don't.
  • The food at dinner is of *cough* questionable quality and not particularly cheap (excellent cheap lunch and breakfast though)
  • The college does not have as many en suite rooms as some colleges - half of the front quad, enough for around 1/3 of the final year students. You won't get an en suite as a fresher! But every room does have its own sink.
  • The bar isn't cheap (although still cheaper than the Kings Arms, and they're rethinking the prices at the moment)
  • Lack of sports facilities on-site. Sports teams are still massive at Wadham; you just have to go to Iffley Road sports complex etc sometimes. To be honest, this is not too much of an issue, as you mostly play teams in other colleges anyway.

Wolfson College

The Good Bits

  • Location. We are right by the river and, being in North Oxford, away from the hustle and bustle of town. In many ways, it really does feel like being in the country. Wolfson is also quite near Summertown, which is handy for shopping.
  • The only college with its own punt harbour.
  • Accommodation. All first years who want it get accommodation in or around college, as do many people in later years. In recent years, it hasn't been uncommon for people to get college accommodation for the duration of their DPhils.
  • Facilities, e.g. on-site squash and tennis courts, allegedly the best college gym, very good [24-hour] library facilities and the librarian is always interested in book requests.
  • The bar. Cheap but high quality. All the bar staff are volunteers, which keeps the prices down.
  • Getting involved. The college is quite egalitarian and it's quite easy to get involved and make a difference in all manner of things.
  • As a graduate college, nothing really shuts down over the vacation periods. The ents team also organise events and trips out of Oxford over the summer, which is great for taking a break from your thesis / transfer report / dissertation / general research, etc.
  • The Vicky Arms is a just a short walk up the tow path adjoining the college.

The Bad Bits

  • Accommodation is a bit pricey.
  • The college's "modern" architecture has had mixed reviews, although I think the garden and the grounds make up for this.
  • Location. Personally, I don't find this a problem as it only takes me 15 minutes to walk to my department, but many people at college invest in a bike.
  • Size. Wolfson is quite a big college, so it might not be your first choice if you are looking for small and cosy community. This said, everyone at Wolfson is really friendly and the bar serves a useful role as a social hub when people want to wind down from a day's work.

Worcester College

The Good Bits

  • It has sports fields on site, the only college to do so.
  • Gym on site
  • Lovely gardens (26 acres of ground) and a LAKE!
  • The ducks!
  • A lot of grass that can be walked on
  • Accommodation provided for all years
  • High number of ensuites
  • High number of large kitchens
  • Close to train and coach stations
  • Close to all the clubs
  • Close to Sainsburys
  • Close to all the bars/pubs in Jericho (and G&Ds!)
  • Beautiful library reading room with great view; upper library open 24/7
  • Off the tourist trail
  • Really friendly atmosphere
  • Relatively cheap accommodation
  • Good cheap food in formal hall on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday every week
  • Fridges provided in all rooms
  • Toasters and kettles allowed in rooms
  • Commemoration ball every 3 years (shared with New and Magdalen) - 2008 sold out in about two weeks


The Bad Bits

  • Some of the first year accommodation is a bit rubbish (but the community atmosphere in these is great, and some are amazing - huge with ensuite)
  • JCR (the room) is not great
  • Quite far from the centre of town and most lecture halls but not too bad if you get a bike

Edit from a current student; you can walk from Worcester to exam schools [the "other side" of town] in 15 minutes, cutting through Gloucester green - where the market/ bus station is - I really don't think Worcester is that far from the centre of town, especially compared to the position of other colleges)

  • Only one quad of old beautiful buildings

To do

All Souls College

The Good Bits The food is very good. The prestige of getting in. They have a silver marmite pot lid.

The Bad Bits You will probably never get into this college. It's not for students. (Edit: Students sometimes do get in right after their undergraduate degree. But this is strictly limited to geniuses).

Blackfriars Hall

The Good Bits

  • Run by friars, ties into the ancient mediaeval tradition of Oxford.
  • A lot of interesting theology tutors.

The Bad Bits

  • Very small.

Campion Hall

The Good Bits

  • If you are a Jesuit, this is the place for you!

The Bad Bits

  • Really just a house of the Jesuit order. Not for outsiders.

Kellogg College

The Good Bits

  • Excellent Breakfasts
  • Architecturally beautiful - Housed in three gabled Victorian buildings
  • The Quads are gorgeous
  • Massive scenic lawns between the College mansions and the accommodation houses
  • Some of the brightest of Oxford's lot end up here. It is a graduate college, so the atmosphere tends to remain grown-up and intelligent.
  • It is the newest college in the university, so the facilities are pretty polished and top notch. Plus, it has been undergoing renovations in the past couple of years. So everything is, well, new and shiny.
  • Interesting events like Cook Offs and fashion shows, so life is never dull
  • Situated in North Oxford (Popularly called 'Jericho'), which is widely considered the most fashionable area of Oxford
  • Close to some of Oxfordshire's best cafes, boutiques and stores. Don't be surprised to see trendy Kellogg students.
  • Best accommodation in Oxford - Victorian bungalows housing few students at a time.
  • Great food, compared to most Oxford Colleges
  • Relaxed atmosphere
  • Diverse research centres.
  • Strong links to the Education Department.
  • Good joint rowing team with Christ Church
  • Hosted some excellent bops this year for the first time ever, raising hope for more.


The Bad Bits

  • Although a graduate college, it shuts down completely during summer.
  • No College sports teams.
  • No choir, chapel, societies.
  • Very expensive dinners (6-25 pounds), no grants, bursaries etc.

Linacre College

The Good Bits

  • Good-looking college, both inside and out
  • Nice location right beside to University Parks

The Bad Bits

Nuffield College

The Good Bits

The Bad Bits

Green Templeton College

The Good Bits

Has a fantastic scence for non-conventional students - a large body of international students, mature students as well as LGBT students


Well known for having great lunch and free Sunday Brunch!


On campus, there is the beautiful Radcliffe Observatory.


Very casual and friendly environment.

Library is open 24 hours. There is no fine and no limits on the number of books you want to borrow! Additionally, you may bring food and drinks into the library. The librarian is sweet and happy to buy any books currently not available.

As the newest college in Oxford, Green Templeton prides itself on being untraditional, a little hip and quasi-bohemian.

The Bad Bits

St. Benet's Hall

The Good Bits

  • Run by monks, ties into the ancient mediaeval tradition of Oxford.
  • Extremely small, making for a close-knit community. Tutors are likely to be in other colleges, so you get to explore a bit.

The Bad Bits

  • Very small library, unless you are reading Theology.
  • No female students


This page (which you can edit) is part of The Student Room's information and advice about Oxford and Cambridge (known collectively as Oxbridge). Whilst the two universities have have much in common, they also have many differences. Our information on the application procedure and interviews applies to both.

If you have questions, or just want to chat, come join us in TSR's Oxford forum and Cambridge forum.

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