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Oxford is more financially viable, Cambridge more achievable - which do I go for?

Hi all,
As an intl student (and a reapplicant for Law after being rejected from the Winter Pool this year from Cambridge) I am considering whether to reapply to Oxford or to Cambridge.
At the moment, Oxford works out about 5000 GBP cheaper than Cambridge (Cam fees for Law for intl students are 23k + 10k college fees, Oxford is upright 29k). However, my IGCSE results are 6A* 2A with 2As in a foreign language and Math (2020 CAGs).

I feel like Cambridge is a much safer bet given that my GCSEs are great but not outstanding for Oxford standards. But a 5k GBP loss per year (15k total) works out heavily, even if it is funded with loans and stuff. Should I take the risk with Oxford and a brand new application process in the hope of saving all that money, or do I play it 'safe' with Cambridge given my GCSE scores and also the fact that I've been through the application process before.

Please do help, I need all advice possible!
Have you compared the courses? Oxford and Cambridge don't necessarily teach the same courses for a given subject. Your GCSEs don't seem like they'd disadvantage you for Oxford; you have almost all A*s. Also, the application processes are substantially similar, but do compare the differences - for instance, Oxford tends to interview more than Cambridge, which you may feel works for or against you. I'm not sure what to say about the 15k difference in fees. Comparing the courses may make your decision somewhat clearer. Best of luck with your application!
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by _Alevelstudent_
Hi all,
As an intl student (and a reapplicant for Law after being rejected from the Winter Pool this year from Cambridge) I am considering whether to reapply to Oxford or to Cambridge.
At the moment, Oxford works out about 5000 GBP cheaper than Cambridge (Cam fees for Law for intl students are 23k + 10k college fees, Oxford is upright 29k). However, my IGCSE results are 6A* 2A with 2As in a foreign language and Math (2020 CAGs).

I feel like Cambridge is a much safer bet given that my GCSEs are great but not outstanding for Oxford standards. But a 5k GBP loss per year (15k total) works out heavily, even if it is funded with loans and stuff. Should I take the risk with Oxford and a brand new application process in the hope of saving all that money, or do I play it 'safe' with Cambridge given my GCSE scores and also the fact that I've been through the application process before.

Please do help, I need all advice possible!

Hi there,

I currently hold an offer for cambridge law :smile:. Although I’m not international, they initially had me down as being international because I live in the EU lol. Thus, I thought you could help.

Firstly, I wouldn’t necessarily say that cambridge is a “safe option” as both universities are equally competitive, they just have different admissions systems and courses. For example, I chose to apply to cambridge because I preferred the structure of the course and I felt the CLT played more to my strengths. However, please note that for 2023 entry cambridge has gotten rid of the CLT and replacing it with the Lnat. Therefore, I would say that in order to get an interview at either you need to have confidence that you will get 27+ in the LNAT, as that’s the most important piece of evidence they choose when selecting who to call for an interview.

Secondly, it’s important to understand that Oxford and cambridge operate a holistic admissions process in which they view everything equally and contextualise your grades. For example, in my igcse I only got 2A* and 4 A, which is arguably below the oxbridge average. However, they were the highest my school had in recent years and the school itself had never sent someone to oxbridge, so the grades didn’t go against me. Therefore, I think people become fixated on the number of A*’at gcse rather than the quality of your GCSEs in comparison to your schools performance. After that GCSEs become immaterial and your IB/ A-level grades, interview and admissions test performance becomes essential.

Thirdly, this may sound a bit controversial but I think choosing the university that suits you best can play an important factor, as once you get an interview your already deemed to be bright enough for the course, and many interviewers say that the deciding factors can often go to small details such as who was to most engaged and passionate at interview. Therefore, if you pick the uni which you think is “safer” but don’t like the course or structure unfortunately it’s unlikely that you’ll impress them. For example, I didn’t like Oxford jurisprudence based course as I wanted to learn the more practical aspects of the law. Thus, if I had had an Oxford interview, I don’t think my passion would have come out to the extent it did in the cambridge interview.

Finally, college choice. Although I do agree that college you apply to doesn’t affect your chances of getting in to the university from a statistical point of view as quantity is not always correlated with quality. I would say that ensuring you choose a college that suits your character is vital as all too often people get enamoured by the prestige of certain colleges to eventually find out that it wasn’t the right environment for them. For example, I chose to apply to girton which has a reputation for being far out and where the majority of students are pooled. However, I loved the friendly vibe of the college and applied anyway. Throughout the process the college was very friendly and suited my personality, whereas friends who applied to more “prestigious” colleges subsequently found out that they didn’t have the right vibes and they ended up not getting in.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that it is more important to choose a university that suits you best as opposed from looking at it from a numbers prospective, as when you truly love the place your applying to you are more likely to invest your time well into admissions test and interview prep, which is more important than GCSEs.

Im sorry this is soo Long but I wanted to help, if you have anymore questions feel free to pm me :smile:
Original post by penguingirl18
Have you compared the courses? Oxford and Cambridge don't necessarily teach the same courses for a given subject. Your GCSEs don't seem like they'd disadvantage you for Oxford; you have almost all A*s. Also, the application processes are substantially similar, but do compare the differences - for instance, Oxford tends to interview more than Cambridge, which you may feel works for or against you. I'm not sure what to say about the 15k difference in fees. Comparing the courses may make your decision somewhat clearer. Best of luck with your application!


Thank you for the advice. Really appreciate it!

Original post by Rebeca5782
Hi there,

I currently hold an offer for cambridge law :smile:. Although I’m not international, they initially had me down as being international because I live in the EU lol. Thus, I thought you could help.


Thank you so much for the detailed answer, and congrats on the offer! Obviously I'm not discounting how competitive Cambridge is to get into (I've experienced the competition firsthand since I was pooled and then rejected after all :wink:) but given my GCSE results, it does seem to be the 'safer' bet (I put safer in inverted commas since it is, imo, compared to Oxford in my case where my GCSEs will be given much higher weightage). I actually really like Jurisprudence - more so than blackletter law - and so prefer Oxford a bit more, although as I went through the whole interview process with Cambridge last year I did learn to love the practical side of law as well so its not too much of an issue. Exam structures is the opposite situation, since I prefer Cambridge's staggered approach rather than Oxford's lumpsum final year style. Again, this is not too much of an issue since I'm pretty comfortable staying on pace with work consistently. The question therefore just boils down to whether I should risk an application to Oxford or stay on 'home turf' and just go through the Cambridge process again. I'll definitely be thinking about what you said though and will re-read your answer every once in a while for some perspective. Really really appreciate the advice and best of luck with your time at Cambridge!
Original post by _Alevelstudent_
Thank you for the advice. Really appreciate it!



I actually really like Jurisprudence - more so than blackletter law - and so prefer Oxford a bit more,

You know that 'Jurisprudence' is just what Oxford likes to call 'law', don't you?
Original post by Reality Check
You know that 'Jurisprudence' is just what Oxford likes to call 'law', don't you?

I do understand that it's just an attempt by Oxford to be a bit different from others, but I was also under the impression that the Oxford course is more inclined towards the theory of Law rather than Cambridge's more practical side?
Original post by _Alevelstudent_
I do understand that it's just an attempt by Oxford to be a bit different from others, but I was also under the impression that the Oxford course is more inclined towards the theory of Law rather than Cambridge's more practical side?


No, the format of teaching is likely to be pretty much identical between the two. The only difference is, aside from the name of the degree, Oxford requires you do a paper in Jurisprudence specifically, whereas at Cambridge said paper is optional. Cambridge might actually be more "theoretically" oriented in some respect as they require you study Roman law (for whatever reason).
Original post by artful_lounger
No, the format of teaching is likely to be pretty much identical between the two. The only difference is, aside from the name of the degree, Oxford requires you do a paper in Jurisprudence specifically, whereas at Cambridge said paper is optional. Cambridge might actually be more "theoretically" oriented in some respect as they require you study Roman law (for whatever reason).

As someone who's studied it, Roman Law is an interesting background to quite a lot of the underlying principles in Contract and Tort Law today. Oxford also require their Law students to study it.
Hi there, OP!

While I can't recommend which you should apply to (because I don't know you well enough to give that sort of advice), I am going to suggest some of the things you might want to consider. It does seem like you've done your research already, but I have some points for you to think about just in case:

- Firstly, Cambridge allows students to study more topics than Oxford. In Cambridge, you do 14 or 15 modules, not including Legal Skills. Oxford only allow 12. Oxford also give their students fewer optional modules: 2 compared to the 6 at Cambridge. This may or may not be relevant for you, depending on what you're interested in.

- Oxford require their students to specify if they want to do Law Studies in Europe at the beginning of the course. Cambridge don't currently have this option available because of Brexit, but when they did, you could choose when you were in your second year. This might not be relevant to you, but I thought I'd add it.

- You already know about how the courses are examined, so I'm not going to go into more detail. Might be something to consider.

Overall, I'd really recommend thinking about the course you'll be studying rather than which one you're more likely to get into, or is cheaper. I know the last part is easy for me to say as someone who had much cheaper fees being from the UK, but if you're going to be spending/borrowing a lot of money, it's worth doing so for a course you really like.

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