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Introduction to UK University Application - What is Collegiate System?

One of the characteristics that distinguishes Oxbridge from other leading universities in the world is the “Collegiate System”. Dating back to medieval times, this unique system assigns students to one college not according to their specification/subject major but based on their personalities, hobbies, habits and their preferences.


With its own dining hall, common room, dormitory, gyms and libraries, a college is not just a residential place but also a close community providing activities and events for students to get involved in campus life and explore more opportunities at university.



Take Oxford as an example, the university does have any central campus but is made up of 45 colleges and halls. Every student belongs to a college as well as their department and the University. Most tutorial teaching takes place in colleges with academic tutors responsible for overseeing students’ academic progress.


Nowadays only a handful of UK Universities still have collegiate system:

University of Cambridge University of Oxford Durham University Lancaster University University of York


Colleges have rankings, too. In the Telegraph’s Top 10 colleges from Oxbridge, 2 are from Cambridge while the rest are all from Oxford:

St John’s (Oxford) Trinity (Cambridge) Magdalen (Oxford) Christ Church (Oxford) Merton (Oxford) Queen’s (Oxford) Corpus Christi (Oxford) St John’s (Cambridge) Trinity (Oxford) University (Oxford)


How to Apply:

Applicants can choose which college they prefer when submitting UCAS. Colleges assess applicants, conduct admissions interviews and make admission decisions. If applicants are unfamiliar about college choices and choose “open” when submitting their application, they might end up with the college that might not be the most desirable or far away from their subject department.


Thus we strongly suggest applicants to conduct thorough research on colleges before application. Here are some main considering factors:

1. Size of accommodation, facilities, architecture and traditions 2. Single-gender college 3. Location: some are closer to town and some are close to the department faculty 4. Scholarship and sponsorship availability 5. Successful acceptance rate 6. Reviews and student population 7. Alumni network 8. Practical factors such as the number of years they can offer the accommodation, library opening hours, and whether you can keep your room during the vacations.


We also suggest applicants visit the colleges or do the virtual open tour during open days!


Speak to us about your wishes and needs, and our experienced Specialists will assist and support you individually to achieve them!


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