The colleges that we are working with are aware that American students often are only able to study abroad for one term or semester (due to course requirements at home, finances, etc.). If they welcome a student for one term they naturally wish to be sure that he or she will receive a substantial and coherent academic program.
The eight-week period is that part of the Oxford term during which the University lectures are given. Degree candidates normally arrive in zero week (the week before the first week of the eight weeks period) to meet with their supervisor regarding the term’s courses, etc. Tutorial courses may extend into ninth or tenth week. According to experienced tutors, most degree candidates do academic work for at least 39 weeks a year (an average of 13 weeks a term). An important point is that Oxford degree candidates normally work on reading lists during the three vacation periods. For instance, the Oxford Classics Handbook says “Vacation study is vital.” (p.11) With the approval of his or her U.S. home college and WISC, a non-graduating student may enrol in 2-4 additional tutorials each term at no extra cost. If a student chooses to study in less than the normal 14 tutorials there can be no refund since the cost for the entire program is based on average costs per student. Not every student will participate in every tour or use every library, etc. The same average use principle applies.
The Vice-Chancellor recently confirmed this view of the Oxford academic year in the Oxford Gazette. He wrote “attention is being given to ways in which existing practices may be formalised to make explicit the fact that the academic year at Oxford is more nearly the thirty week year of other institutions, and not, as is commonly assumed, a twenty-four week year.” WISC will ensure that Visiting Students or Associate Members will be in residence for 13 weeks a term and will (depending on the individual college) normally study in one primary tutorial course of nine tutorial sessions and one secondary of five tutorial meetings. Alternatively, in some cases, three secondary courses of six tutorials each might be educationally desirable. Senior Fellows also expect to consult with the student’s U.S. professors to work out the best academic program for him or her.
This will mean that an Associate Member could properly earn 13-14 U.S. semester credits over 12-13 weeks of intensive academic work (see our Associate Member and Transcript pages for more information).
If you are considering applying through another U.S. overseas program (as some students do) you should ask them specifically how many weeks of residence you will have. (Most offer only 8-9 weeks and students often must get their own housing in vacation periods if they come for two or three terms). Also ask how many tutorials will you have (most offer only 12 tutorials in 8 weeks). Also, ask if the other program has an office and staff in Oxford to help you. (Several have no Oxford office). The academic rankings of the colleges they work with may also be of interest. Ask about the “Norrington Tables”.
You could also ask how many tours they offer, do they have a medical plan, is the housing with British students, what is the location? Will you receive a transcript authorized by Oxford University or a U.S. transcript?
"I would say OSAP is better because there is more integration with British students and a better safety net. Plus, the housing is better."
"The work was challenging and both my tutors were wonderful! Joining the crew team was one of the best things I did here; I would highly recommend getting involved in sports because you get to know so many people and meet lots of British students."