7 reasons to study in Oxford

27 Jul 2021
By Unite Students, Staff writer at The Common Room

As the oldest university in the English-speaking world,with stunning architecture and a rich cultural history, Oxford is top of the list of destinations for many prospective students. But what makes this city such a desirable place to study?

1. Its academic prestige

First and foremost, Oxford is home to the prestigious University of Oxford, which has been teaching for almost 1,000 years, making it the second oldest university in the world. It is regularly ranked among the best five universities across the globe, appearing alongside its Oxbridge counterpart Cambridge in the UK’s top two institutions, meaning places are highly sought after. The university’s alumni include no fewer than 28 UK prime ministers, while 72 Nobel Prize laureates have graduated from or taught at this esteemed university. This hallowed institution also boasts the largest academic library system in the country, the biggest university press in the world and the world’s oldest university museum, the Ashmolean. More on that later…

As well as the University of Oxford, the city contains another higher education institution, Oxford Brookes University. Granted university status in 1992, Oxford Brookes was the only UK establishment ranked in the QS World University Rankings’ list of ‘top 50 universities under 50’ four years in a row. It possesses outstanding international and MBA credentials and was ranked second in the UK for teaching in the Times Higher Education Young University Rankings 2020.

2. Oxford’s rich history

Oxford is a city brimming with rich culture and history. The aforementioned Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology was the UK’s first public museum and contains everything from superb collections of ancient Egyptian and Greek artefacts, right through to modern artwork, as well as works by Michelangelo, da Vinci, Picasso, Cézanne, Turner and many others. For something even more diverse, the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and the adjoining Pitt Rivers Museum contain over half a million intriguing items.

The city has an incredible literary history, with Lewis Carroll, Oscar Wilde, Iris Murdoch, Phillip Pullman and J. R. R. Tolkien all living, studying, teaching or writing in Oxford at some point in their lives. The city’s creative, intellectual atmosphere and incredible setting inspired some of the world’s greatest works of literature. Which brings us along nicely to our next point…

3. Its amazing architecture

Oxford is an absolutely stunning city. Its various magnificent college buildings provide an idyllic English university setting, while its architecture, including the iconic Radcliffe Camera, its very own “Bridge of Sighs” and the Bodleian Library, is nothing short of breath-taking. The latter of these provided filming locations for the Harry Potter franchise and, for the real purist fans, there are walking tours of the various different destinations featured in Harry Potter, Brideshead Revisited and His Dark Materials.

For a mesmerizing view of the entire city, you can climb the 13th century tower of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin and take in 360 degrees of incredible landscapes around the city. If scaling those heights isn’t for you, Oxford’s historic Covered Market is a beautiful setting to stroll around and grab a bite to eat, and it even received a royal seal of approval in 2017.

4. Diverse and delicious food

Speaking of grabbing a bite to eat, Oxford is renowned for its uniquely diverse gastronomy. Reflective of its international population, Oxford is teeming with fantastic and very affordable restaurants of every cuisine imaginable. Whether you fancy Italian, Sri Lankan, Japanese or Lebanese, Oxford has somewhere to suit everyone, with Spiced Roots being a particular favourite of ours for its incredible Caribbean food.

If you fancy some posh pub grub, Oxford also boasts a fantastic array of taverns, including The Magdalen Arms, The Old Bookbinders Ale House and The Chester Arms. Alternatively, if you just fancy a pint in the sun with some friends on the banks of the Thames, there are plenty of pubs that provide that too!

5. Its café and shopping culture

Oxford’s student-centric city centre is known for its café culture, with a wonderful range of places to grab a coffee, from Vaults & Garden, located in a converted church vault, to the suitably grandiose setting of The Grand Café. These locations are perfect for relaxing with a good book, which you won’t struggle to find in Oxford; Blackwell’s Bookshop has the largest single room of any bookshop in Europe, the cavernous Norrington Room, which boasts 10,000 square feet of books.

For those seeking even more retail therapy, Westgate Oxford is a huge, state-of-the-art shopping mall in the city centre that was opened in 2017. It features around 100 shops and department stores, as well as a cinema, street food court and an expansive rooftop terrace full of great bars and restaurants.

6. The green space

Oxford is an incredibly green city, featuring multiple parks and meadows within the city centre, which are often attached to one of the University of Oxford Colleges. Oxford Botanic Garden & Arboretum contains 5,000 species of plant life, spread across gorgeous grounds and greenhouses, which are perfect for a relaxing stroll.

The charming market town of Abingdon is accessible via a lovely Thames riverside walk, which also takes you past the famous college boathouses. If you’re lucky, you’ll see rowers training for the highlight of Oxford’s sporting calendar, the annual historic Boat Race between the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

7. Oxford’s prime location

For those looking for a longer break from their studies, Oxford is conveniently positioned between two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Cotswolds and Chiltern Hills. The scenery here is stunning, with both destinations peppered with delightful villages to visit in amongst their rolling hills.

Further afield, Oxford’s south-central location means that you can reach London on a direct train in around 50 minutes to spend a day exploring everything the capital has to offer. Other major UK cities Birmingham and Bristol are both less than an hour and a half away via rail journey.

So, there you have our top seven reasons to study in Oxford. Its magnificent academic heritage, combined with its wonderful food, architecture, culture and proximity to nature, means that Oxford is justifiably a top choice for many students. To read more about studying in this amazing city, visit our Oxford hub, or browse our Oxford accommodation today.

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Staff writer at The Common Room