Since our founding, OSAP has built up relationships with several of Oxford’s medieval colleges, at which it has made arrangements to recommend highly qualified candidates to study. The older colleges are collectively more selective than the ten newer colleges which offered about 350 Visiting Student places to Americans in in recent academic years. (The ten Medieval Colleges offered fewer than 50 Visiting Student places to U.S. students during the same period).
OSAP currently helps to place qualified students at four of Oxford’s top colleges (academically and otherwise), all of which traditionally rank in the top 25% in the Norrington Table, the annual ranking of the colleges of the University of Oxford. These four colleges are:
Students who study in Oxford through OSAP are affiliated with one of these four colleges either as Associate Members or Registered Visiting Students (click on either for respective descriptions of these statuses).
Undergraduates who study in Oxford through OSAP as either Associate Members or Visiting Students are afforded affiliation in their respective college’s Junior Common Room (JCR), the equivalent of the Student Union of each college at Oxford University. Graduate students with Associate status will be affiliated with the Middle Common Room (MCR) of an Oxford college where they can socialize with Oxford University graduate students.
Associate Members have access to their Oxford college library (including the Bodleian, the central Oxford University library), dining hall, social events, and several clubs, societies, and sporting teams and events. Visiting Students have access to each of these, but in addition retain almost all University privileges, including an Oxford University email address and ID card.
The College is very important to the life of the Oxford student. By having some 40 or so colleges Oxford can be both a large and great university while offering the students and dons a smaller institution which is more human and friendly. If you ask an Oxford student or graduate where he or she studied he or she will invariably say “St Peter’s”, “New College”, “St. Antony’s”, etc. They will rarely say “Oxford”.
So it is very important for an overseas student to make a special effort to involve himself or herself in the life of their Oxford college.
You must remember that though you will probably not live in an Oxford college, the fact is that about half of the degree candidates do not live in their college either. They live in annexe buildings which may be a mile or two away, in houses owned by the college, or in private houses rented by groups of students. So you are in exactly the same position as half of the university’s degree candidates.
It is not as hard as you might think! First of all, you are likely to be living with at least one British student (or more if you are in large building). This student will be happy to answer your questions and show you around.
In all of the four colleges that we work with regularly, OSAP arranges for one of the British students, usually the JCR President, to act as your advisor or guide, and a liaison between you and the Oxford college–especially with regards to college life. He or she will see to it that you are introduced around the college just as if you were a previous friend of that British student.
Your Oxford Academic Advisor and his associates and other dons of your college may periodically invite you to social events of varying kinds. This is what makes an Oxford college different from a large, impersonal university. The Junior Common Rooms have traditionally hosted a party in the college bar for incoming Associate Members, etc.
In short, once you have been accepted by them, your college will make every effort to welcome you and see to it that you are treated as part of the college family. In all of this, it is important to remember that the degree to which you involve yourself in your Oxford college often directly impacts the degree to which you are more fully integrated into the wider Oxford community, and to which your time in Oxford is more profitable and enjoyable.
"I was taught by two Professors [holders of Chairs, usually only one don in the University in each subject], both of whom were Fellows of the British Academy. My academic program could not have been better."
"I would say OSAP is better because there is more integration with British students and a better safety net. Plus, the housing is better."