7 Reasons Why Oxford is Better Than Cambridge
Written by Felix Rante
Picking which of the Oxbridge universities to apply to is a rare and difficult problem, something only the top .0006098% of the world’s population have to worry about.
Oxford and Cambridge share a robust rivalry which dates back more than 800 years, meaning debating the question of whether Oxford is better than Cambridge is a bit like arguing whether the chicken or the egg came first (you just give up after a while). That said, here are seven reasons why I would personally recommend picking Oxford.
It's older (and nothing's better than coming first)
There’s always something special about being number one. Oxford is the UK’s oldest university, meaning it has an even richer history and set of traditions than Cambridge. If you like the idea of being associated with the first-ever university in British history, that's really not something you can get anywhere else.
Class sizes are smaller
If you want to study somewhere where your tutors can pay more attention to you individually, then Oxford is a definite winner compared to Cambridge. In the QS World University Rankings® 2016-2017, Oxford was ranked sixth in the world for its faculty to student ratio. By comparison, Cambridge was only ninth.
For some subjects, Oxford literally cannot be beaten
While Oxford may be two places lower than Cambridge in the QS World University Rankings, Oxford is the number one university in the world for four different subjects, according to the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017. If you want to study anatomy & physiology, archaeology, English language & literature or geography, it would be pointless to consider any other universities. Even if those subjects don't interest you, Oxford still has a much stronger academic record than Cambridge, which only manages to be the best in the world for one subject.
You get to meet (and maybe even have lunch with) Oxford's amazing alumni
One of the highlights of my Oxford experience has been attending a party with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the Oxford graduate and professor who invented the World Wide Web and shaped the world we live in today. He's arguably the most important person of the 20th century, and I got to have lunch with him in one of the colleges. Attending Oxford offers so many opportunities like this to rub shoulders with living legends, experiences you'll be desperate to tell friends and family about. Just remember, boasting should be done in moderation.
Oxford's buildings are better-looking and more famous
If you read any of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books when you were younger, you probably dreamed of studying at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, being sorted into Gryffindor and playing Quidditch. That dream might never happen, but the closest thing you'll get to it is attending Oxford, as many of the Hogwarts scenes from the Harry Potter movies were filmed there. Which means that, technically, if you choose Oxford, you are literally going to Hogwarts.
Oxford is leading the way in top-notch course accreditation
One of the main reasons why I chose Oxford over Cambridge is because I would be getting a Master’s degree that's been certified by GCHQ, a high-proﬁle British Intelligence Agency which works closely with MI5 and MI6 on matters of national and international importance. In other words, they're the real deal. The Cambridge equivalent of my degree doesn't give you such a prestigious accreditation just yet.
You might end up being the next Prime Minister
If you fancy tackling global politics and leading the country at some point (or just enjoy having powerful and famous friends), Oxford is the place to be as it's educated more UK Prime Ministers than any other university. The current PM Theresa May is one of 27 to have attended Oxford for university and it's extremely cool to walk in their footsteps. Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, David Cameron and plenty of others can be traced back to one of Oxford's colleges, and some of them even still come back for college alumni parties and other events.
Felix Rante is a Software Engineer and a part-time MSc professional student in the Faculty of Software Engineering and Systems Security at the University of Oxford. He likes travelling, photography and coffee.
Image credits: Oxford (Richard: Flickr), Tim Berners-Lee and Tony Blair (both Wikimedia)
This article was originally published in March 2017 . It was last updated in April 2022