To begin with some context: I am first-gen university student and Canadian. I do not have British citizenship (yay international fees). I do not come from wealth and actually self-funded both of my previous degrees and have nearly paid off my student debt from my BA (my MA was fully funded as is usual in Canada). Keeping my debt low included working 2 jobs while in my undergrad. This is all to say that if anyone understands the value of money and the expense of education it's me.
For my doctorate, I applied to three institutions and was accepted to all three. I have already turned down my offer to McGill in Montreal (supervisory relationship wasn't a great fit), so I will definitely be coming to the UK for my doctorate.I have been accepted to Oxford for a DPhil in History. I have also been awarded a fully funded AHRC scholarship to a smaller university in London for a PhD in Humanities (I wish it was history instead, but it is what it is). As an international student that is a huge amount of money. I like the supervisors at both schools and I think they will both be helpful in establishing a network in my research area. I applied to the smaller university *because* of the supervisor and I do really like working with them. In terms of access to sources, I also believe both schools will be comparable (I do early nineteenth-century military history, which London is perfect for).
I am conflicted as to which offer to accept. I'd like to continue in academia and teach, which means that I know the prestige of an Oxbridge education is hard to match outside of American Ivy Leagues, but is it really worth $200k (CAD) in debt? I have not heard anything about funding from Oxford, so I need to work under the assumption I have none. I know I can apply for Canadian scholarships SSHRC and CCSF for 2023, but I'm not sure if I feel comfortable making a decision for first year with the hope that I get funding for my second and third year when that's not guaranteed.
So that's my question. Is the prestige of Oxford (and on a personal level going to my childhood dream school) worth the cost? Or would it be foolish to give up a Techne Studentship?