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How to decide: Oxford or Cambridge?

Hello!

I have just got an offer from both Oxford and Cambridge to study for a PGCE. I am beyond over the moon, but now comes the horrid decision: how to decide.

I was wondering if people could put what stands out to them for each city - whether it's the facilities, the colleges, the scenery, the people, the formals, etc - and why you prefer them over the other? I have some inkling which I may pick, but it's proving to be such a difficult decision.

Thanks everyone!

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Reply 1
Original post by leftbytheseaside
Hello!

I have just got an offer from both Oxford and Cambridge to study for a PGCE. I am beyond over the moon, but now comes the horrid decision: how to decide.

I was wondering if people could put what stands out to them for each city - whether it's the facilities, the colleges, the scenery, the people, the formals, etc - and why you prefer them over the other? I have some inkling which I may pick, but it's proving to be such a difficult decision.

Thanks everyone!


@Oxfordmum @Scotney @Crafty Mum
University of Oxford, Pawel-Sytniewski
University of Oxford
Oxford
Reply 2
Some of the areas that you are looking at, like accommodation, formals and so on will be college dependent rather than comparable by university. I studied at Oxford, son currently at Cambridge. I feel is that Oxford is a city with a university in it, and Cambridge is a university with the town wrapped around. I can’t comment on the content of the PGCE, but maybe a visit to each place to see which ‘vibe’ you prefer map help. You will have a wonderful experience whichever you choose, so congratulations, and good luck with your decision.
Original post by leftbytheseaside
Hello!

I have just got an offer from both Oxford and Cambridge to study for a PGCE. I am beyond over the moon, but now comes the horrid decision: how to decide.

I was wondering if people could put what stands out to them for each city - whether it's the facilities, the colleges, the scenery, the people, the formals, etc - and why you prefer them over the other? I have some inkling which I may pick, but it's proving to be such a difficult decision.

Thanks everyone!

Which subject? Cambridge has some dodgy placement schools with poor support. I'm intrigued as to where else you applied because neither of these are paricularly highly regarded for a PGCE.


They won't know much about the PGCE courses.
Oxford's bigger and nicer, more to do.
Reply 6
Original post by Muttley79
They won't know much about the PGCE courses.


Probably not, but if you read OP’s statement they are asking about the city, the colleges, the formals etc.
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by Cbt33
Some of the areas that you are looking at, like accommodation, formals and so on will be college dependent rather than comparable by university. I studied at Oxford, son currently at Cambridge. I feel is that Oxford is a city with a university in it, and Cambridge is a university with the town wrapped around. I can’t comment on the content of the PGCE, but maybe a visit to each place to see which ‘vibe’ you prefer map help. You will have a wonderful experience whichever you choose, so congratulations, and good luck with your decision.


Thank you for responding! That’s what I’ve heard as well. I’m currently in the process of making time to properly visit and see the colleges, so I’m going to see which place fits me best! Thank you, it’s been a crazy journey to get here so I’m beyond pleased :smile:

Original post by Muttley79
Which subject? Cambridge has some dodgy placement schools with poor support. I'm intrigued as to where else you applied because neither of these are paricularly highly regarded for a PGCE.

English! I think in terms of dodgy schools, it’s not something I’m particularly concerned about? I came from a college myself that had poor management and was bought out, so I think any experience in any type of school is good experience. From my interview, also, I did not get the impression it was bad pastorally, but I think that is a subjective subject! I applied also to Bristol, but it’s quite far away from where I am situated. I applied to them as my research showed me they were highly regarded for PGCE, with Cambridge being above all teaching institutions. I also hope to do a masters after the PGCE, and both of their courses for that seemed suited to my tastes! It’s a lot more than just hoping to be a teacher after for me, but I really appreciate your comments :smile:

Original post by Sorcerer of Old
Oxford's bigger and nicer, more to do.


This is one thing I feel is pushing me to pick Oxford. It just looks magical! And that activities around it are amazing.
Original post by leftbytheseaside
This is one thing I feel is pushing me to pick Oxford. It just looks magical! And that activities around it are amazing.


Oxford's beyond glorious. Almost every day I find myself inspired by every street and enchanted with every tree. From the charming little playhouse to the majestic Sheldonian where classical music emanates from. And nighttime strolls round Radcliffe Camera while the moon glows overhead are a celestial treat.
Original post by leftbytheseaside
Thank you for responding! That’s what I’ve heard as well. I’m currently in the process of making time to properly visit and see the colleges, so I’m going to see which place fits me best! Thank you, it’s been a crazy journey to get here so I’m beyond pleased :smile:


English! I think in terms of dodgy schools, it’s not something I’m particularly concerned about? I came from a college myself that had poor management and was bought out, so I think any experience in any type of school is good experience. From my interview, also, I did not get the impression it was bad pastorally, but I think that is a subjective subject! I applied also to Bristol, but it’s quite far away from where I am situated. I applied to them as my research showed me they were highly regarded for PGCE, with Cambridge being above all teaching institutions. I also hope to do a masters after the PGCE, and both of their courses for that seemed suited to my tastes! It’s a lot more than just hoping to be a teacher after for me, but I really appreciate your comments :smile:



This is one thing I feel is pushing me to pick Oxford. It just looks magical! And that activities around it are amazing.


I have PMd you - check on schools - will you need a car. That would be a nghtmare in Oxford and not great in Cambridge either.
Original post by leftbytheseaside
Hello!

I have just got an offer from both Oxford and Cambridge to study for a PGCE. I am beyond over the moon, but now comes the horrid decision: how to decide.

I was wondering if people could put what stands out to them for each city - whether it's the facilities, the colleges, the scenery, the people, the formals, etc - and why you prefer them over the other? I have some inkling which I may pick, but it's proving to be such a difficult decision.

Thanks everyone!


Well, I would never be able to get in lol. But I think most people have thought about it “If I were that smart would I pick Oxford or Cambridge?” For me it would always be Oxford. Cambridge seems very formal, they have more of these formal events and parties in the uni, and it has more of that posh feel. If I were going to uni I would want a more city feel where it’s not as formal. Of course both unis are very respected so they both will have that posh formal feel to an extent but from what I know Cambridge definitely has this more.

Oxford also has more going on as a city, it’s also ranked higher than Cambridge, if that even matters at this point. It really depends on what you like.
It's worth noting some members on the site have a deep seated bias against Oxford and Cambridge and advise everyone against going there on a daily basis (while frequently suggesting the courses there are worse than other unis)

@gjd800 did his PGCE at Oxford and may be able to provide some firsthand information of the course and life there.
Original post by artful_lounger
It's

@gjd800 did his PGCE at Oxford and may be able to provide some firsthand information of the course and life there.


I did my PGCE at Oxford too
Original post by Sorcerer of Old
Oxford's beyond glorious. Almost every day I find myself inspired by every street and enchanted with every tree. From the charming little playhouse to the majestic Sheldonian where classical music emanates from. And nighttime strolls round Radcliffe Camera while the moon glows overhead are a celestial treat.

This description is beautiful! I’m going to Oxford for the second time tomorrow (I went when I was very young, don’t remember) and this has made me so, excited for it. The Radcliffe Camera looks magical, and the other library’s dotted around in the colleges look like a dream to study in. Would you say it’s surrounded by a lot of greenery? And are there particular places (such as cafes or affinities) that you would recommend? Thank you for such a beautiful description, it sounds enchanting 🤩

Original post by artful_lounger


@gjd800 did his PGCE at Oxford and may be able to provide some firsthand information of the course and life there.


Thank you for letting me know! I appreciate they are just stating their opinions - and I hear them - but I am too excited to let any negativity get to me regarding it! I’m just hoping to hear why people love the areas for different reasons :smile:

Original post by psawyer
Congratulations on your offer, brilliant news! I have my Cambridge interview tomorrow and Oxford next week. How did you find your interviews and how long did they last?


Thank you so much! And congratulations on your interview offers, that’s amazing :biggrin: Regarding Cambridge, it was in person and around 3-4 hours. Very, very relaxed and absolutely lovely interviewers! I had to prepare a 5 minute presentation on a play, but it was more fun than stressful. There is a reading part, which I feel is the main bulk of their decision (and the 1-to-1), so if they gave you a genre of reading, definitely look for ideas! Oxford was 30 minutes on zoom (way shorter) and also included the 5 minute presentation. Very relaxed also (they appreciated my humour, I think), and lovely people! They were more focused on just how you react situationally, and appreciated me as an individual. You can PM me if you want to hear anything else! But good luck, I promise they aren’t as scary as you think :smile:
(edited 1 year ago)
Oxford has some great boozers and I used the time to make connections in departments in which I had established research interests outside of teaching. I suppose that the same is true of Cantab. I didn't much care about the other stuff. The College was great, I have friends there still, made a few professional connections, go back for the Jaudy and alumni weekends. It's all very lovely.

I was in a boss school in Oxford. The people that needed cars and didn't drive were paired with interns who did drive and it was pretty painless for everybody.
My Oxon interview was 2 hours on Zoom, though! We barely talked about teaching at all and instead talked about my life background, Indian Philosophy, and problems with translations from Sanskrit. Struck me as odd at the time but I see now the logic is to see the person and their passions rather than see the person's qualifications.
Original post by leftbytheseaside
This description is beautiful! I’m going to Oxford for the second time tomorrow (I went when I was very young, don’t remember) and this has made me so, excited for it. The Radcliffe Camera looks magical, and the other library’s dotted around in the colleges look like a dream to study in. Would you say it’s surrounded by a lot of greenery? And are there particular places (such as cafes or affinities) that you would recommend? Thank you for such a beautiful description, it sounds enchanting 🤩

I think you’re going to fall in love when you visit it again. And if you’re blessed by sunny weather then it’ll be like walking the streets of heaven 😍. There are sooo many cafés and cute little artisan shops, I’d recommend Jericho to find a huge concentration of them and Little Clarendon Street has quite a few too. For more mainstream and chains I’d say the high street and Cornmarket Street. There’s also the big Westgate shopping centre.

Is Oxford green you say? You’ve asked the right person! I’m obsessed with countryside and every weekend I meticulously go on the best walks that I’ve discovered in the area. Port Meadow is an absolute must: an enormous field of breathtaking beauty near Jericho that has the Thames running through it and is often populated with cows and/or horses. Walking to the end takes you to Wolvercote and then you can walk all the way back with forest to your left which you can also enter and which leads to further paths! Then you have the gorgeous Christ Church meadow in town which I did this weekend and almost wept at the beauty. You then have university parks, which is also central (near natural history museum): it’s enormous and has wild countryside, river and woods at the end. There’s even a little waterfall too! You’ve then got Headington Hill Park which displays a stunning variety of trees and there’s even a view of a magnificent country estate at the top. And right over the road from Headington Hill Park you have the breathtaking South Park and if you go the top you have views of Oxford’s spires down below. This is a photo I took of it a few years ago:
9A181566-9318-4DF7-A3C8-FFA111854069.jpeg

There’s also Hinksey park and a few months ago I went on a 5 hour walk to Brasenose Woods, and every second is worth it! There are still Wytham Woods to explore but I’m saving that for spring. Oxford is bursting with greenery and countryside all around so don’t worry about that!

Here’s a link to a post I made on my blog on here which includes some photos of the walls I went on this weekend: https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=7044394&page=364#post98133358
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by leftbytheseaside
Hello!

I have just got an offer from both Oxford and Cambridge to study for a PGCE. I am beyond over the moon, but now comes the horrid decision: how to decide.

I was wondering if people could put what stands out to them for each city - whether it's the facilities, the colleges, the scenery, the people, the formals, etc - and why you prefer them over the other? I have some inkling which I may pick, but it's proving to be such a difficult decision.

Thanks everyone!

Congratulations on securing both offers!
I can only speak as a parent on an Oxford undergrad, and purely from our experience of visiting Oxford. An elderly relative did his PGCE at Oxford, and was a member of St Catherine’s Society, before the current college was built! Very coincidentally, our daughter got a place at St Catz and whilst the outside aesthetic is not to everyone’s taste, she finds her college community to be very friendly and relaxed. She says there are always plenty of people about in the city, no matter what time of day or night you might be out, and feels really happy at Oxford. My daughter enjoys going to formal events from time to time, but her college isn’t one of the more formal ones. There are plenty of formal events available to attend if you wish, whether in college or via the variety of different clubs and societies.

One place we love going to is the Vaults cafe, part of University Church with a small garden overlooking the Radcliffe Camera, perfect for also soaking up the view of Brasenose, All Souls, and up towards Exeter, Hertford and the Bodleian. The Covered Market is nice, with places to eat (e.g. Browns cafe), and lots of shops to explore. We also like walking along from St Catz through Music Meadow and into the university park.

Enjoy exploring both Oxford and Cambridge, if you can, and speak to current students about what they like about each place and what appeals most to you. Every place has its pro’s and con’s, so from a physical perspective see what feels right with you. Good luck with whichever you opt for.
Original post by blitterflicker
Well, I would never be able to get in lol. But I think most people have thought about it “If I were that smart would I pick Oxford or Cambridge?” For me it would always be Oxford. Cambridge seems very formal, they have more of these formal events and parties in the uni, and it has more of that posh feel. If I were going to uni I would want a more city feel where it’s not as formal. Of course both unis are very respected so they both will have that posh formal feel to an extent but from what I know Cambridge definitely has this more.

Oxford also has more going on as a city, it’s also ranked higher than Cambridge, if that even matters at this point. It really depends on what you like.

I thought I had quoted this and hadn’t! Ahhh! Thank you so much for your response. This message is beyond sweet :’)) I know you say that about not being able to get in, but I don’t even have any A Levels, and I’m a slighter older student than most, so please don’t give up if there’s a dream there for you. Anything is possible.

Yes! I think my heart has always been towards Oxford similarly to you! Cambridge is gorgeous, and full of lovely people, but there definitely is a slightly more academic vibe to it than Oxford. And while Cambridge is lovely, and I cannot wait for the magic of Oxford tomorrow! The rankings aren’t too much of a bother for me, but I’m so glad to hear you love the area :smile:
Original post by gjd800
Oxford has some great boozers and I used the time to make connections in departments in which I had established research interests outside of teaching. I suppose that the same is true of Cantab. I didn't much care about the other stuff. The College was great, I have friends there still, made a few professional connections, go back for the Jaudy and alumni weekends. It's all very lovely.

I was in a boss school in Oxford. The people that needed cars and didn't drive were paired with interns who did drive and it was pretty painless for everybody.

Thank you for your reply! The networking in the departments is a great idea, and it’s one I’m very keen to do myself. It’s lovely you’re still close to college friends! Would you say there’s any colleges which suit PGCE students better, or should I just go with my gut? And (sorry for the questions) did you do an integrated masters after your PGCE, by any chance? It’s something I’m very much considering!
I heard it’s great with the car sharing there (also a great opportunity to meet other student teachers) so I’m not too concerned around travel. Hopefully I’ll be driving by then anyway.
Original post by Sorcerer of Old
I think you’re going to fall in love when you visit it again. And if you’re blessed by sunny weather then it’ll be like walking the streets of heaven 😍. There are sooo many cafés and cute little artisan shops, I’d recommend Jericho to find a huge concentration of them and Little Clarendon Street has quite a few too. For more mainstream and chains I’d say the high street and Cornmarket Street. There’s also the big Westgate shopping centre.

Is Oxford green you say? You’ve asked the right person! I’m obsessed with countryside and every weekend I meticulously go on the best walks that I’ve discovered in the area. Port Meadow is an absolute must: an enormous field of breathtaking beauty near Jericho that has the Thames running through it and is often populated with cows and/or horses. Walking to the end takes you to Wolvercote and then you can walk all the way back with forest to your left which you can also enter and which leads to further paths! Then you have the gorgeous Christ Church meadow in town which I did this weekend and almost wept at the beauty. You then have university parks, which is also central (near natural history museum): it’s enormous and has wild countryside, river and woods at the end. There’s even a little waterfall too! You’ve then got Headington Hill Park which displays a stunning variety of trees and there’s even a view of a magnificent country estate at the top. And right over the road from Headington Hill Park you have the breathtaking South Park and if you go the top you have views of Oxford’s spires down below. This is a photo I took of it a few years ago:
9A181566-9318-4DF7-A3C8-FFA111854069.jpeg

There’s also Hinksey park and a few months ago I went on a 5 hour walk to Brasenose Woods, and every second is worth it! There are still Wytham Woods to explore but I’m saving that for spring. Oxford is bursting with greenery and countryside all around so don’t worry about that!

Here’s a link to a post I made on my blog on here which includes some photos of the walls I went on this weekend: https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=7044394&page=364#post98133358

I fear your post may have completely swayed my heart here! Eee! Walking through the streets tomorrow can’t come sooner. Jericho sounds magical, and it’s great to see they have a mixture of quant cafe shops and the shopping centre. My next question should just be what DOESN'T Oxford have??
The picture is BEAUTIFUL!! It looks like a dream. I’m so glad to see so much greenery, and therefore giving me excuses to go on long walks and treks to explore. I’d read Oxford wasn’t as green as other places like Cambridge I fear they may have been lying!
I’ve saved the link to look through your blog, as any photos of such a beautiful place must be appreciated. Thank you so, so much for all your information! It’s helped more than you can know :smile:
Original post by Crafty Mum
Congratulations on securing both offers!
I can only speak as a parent on an Oxford undergrad, and purely from our experience of visiting Oxford. An elderly relative did his PGCE at Oxford, and was a member of St Catherine’s Society, before the current college was built! Very coincidentally, our daughter got a place at St Catz and whilst the outside aesthetic is not to everyone’s taste, she finds her college community to be very friendly and relaxed. She says there are always plenty of people about in the city, no matter what time of day or night you might be out, and feels really happy at Oxford. My daughter enjoys going to formal events from time to time, but her college isn’t one of the more formal ones. There are plenty of formal events available to attend if you wish, whether in college or via the variety of different clubs and societies.

One place we love going to is the Vaults cafe, part of University Church with a small garden overlooking the Radcliffe Camera, perfect for also soaking up the view of Brasenose, All Souls, and up towards Exeter, Hertford and the Bodleian. The Covered Market is nice, with places to eat (e.g. Browns cafe), and lots of shops to explore. We also like walking along from St Catz through Music Meadow and into the university park.

Enjoy exploring both Oxford and Cambridge, if you can, and speak to current students about what they like about each place and what appeals most to you. Every place has its pro’s and con’s, so from a physical perspective see what feels right with you. Good luck with whichever you opt for.

Thank you for your reply and thank you so much for your kind words. It all feels like a dream, I’m so happy :smile:
I’ve heard some lovely things regarding St. Catherine’s, and it feels that - regardless of the college - the friends you make there and community you become apart of will be wonderful. I’m so glad your daughter enjoys it, too. It’s great to hear a current student feel at home there, and that the city feels alive and vibrant. It’s one thing I feel I missed out with at my current undergraduate city it’s soooo quiet!!
I’m going to write down your recommendations and scout them out tomorrow! And I think I’m going to try and grab a tour really appreciate the Radcliffe Camera and the beautiful college grounds!
I’m really excited to explore both, and seeing you positive you speak of the city, I think I may fall in love with it. Truly, thank you so much for your words. I really cherish them all and consider every point. I know, regardless of where I go, I will find the place right for me. Thank you again!
Oxford every time.Cambridge is greener and has better punting routes but those are the only two advantages .Oxford is magical and exciting at all times of day and night something is going on.
Nice dilemma to have mind!Enjoy tomorrow.

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