All OSAP housing is above the usual standard for British students in Oxford and is furnished to an expected level. Any extras, such as coffee mugs rather than ordinary cups, for instance, are the responsibility of the students.
OSAP believes it is important that you should have comfortable housing within a reasonably short distance from the very center of Oxford. When you arrive and talk to British students living in “digs”, you will find almost all of them do not have modern housing and they mostly live further away than you do. This is because owners of good houses are reluctant to rent to students but they will rent to a reputable educational foundation such as OSAP. The quality of OSAP housing makes it possible for you to concentrate on your studies and get much more out of your time in Oxford.
All housing units have a kitchen, with an oven, stove, microwave, kettle, toaster, cookware (a baking tray, saucepans, frying pans, knives, assorted utensils, a chopping board), plates, bowls, cups, glasses and cutlery. In the nature of student housing, kitchen items are often moved from apartments for dinner parties and they do wear out over time, so if you arrive and find that something is missing or in poor condition, let us know and we will replace it.
By living so close to their college, our students are able to easily dine in their own colleges and save money since College meals are subsidized.
OSAP students will normally be offered housing in a flat (apartment) or an older house often with one experienced non-American and 2-5 American students (barring last minute drop-outs).
College Housing: Visiting Students who come through OSAP are sometimes eligible for rooms in the main college (or in annexes) and sometimes we are able to obtain such a room because a student has dropped out of the college at the last minute, etc. If such rooms become available, we will allocate them on the basis of first-come first-served. Please note that living in Oxford college housing will, when it is possible, incur an additional surcharge which will be due in addition to the published OSAP tuition fees. No OSAP student has a right to college housing. However, please note that the Oxford colleges are only able to house about half their students in the Main Quad. As a result, preference is given to first year and third year degree candidates, followed by graduate students. College room allocations are usually determined by the Junior Common Rooms (student unions) with scrupulous fairness to all student applicants.
Very few one year overseas students are able to obtain rooms in their colleges. It is fair to point out that there are some disadvantages to college rooms (you have only a room–no sitting room, no dining room or kitchen and the bathroom is down the hall, or in the basement.) Some students complain about the lack of privacy and of course the rules are strict and are tightly enforced.
We include some basic rules written in part by Oxford housing Agents. If you follow them your housing problems will be kept to a minimum and you will have few, if any, charges against your account. You should not worry about charges if you are reasonably careful. We have always paid any doubtful charges and have not passed those on to the student. We expect to continue this practice, but we do, of course, ask your cooperation. If we all work together, everything will go smoothly.
Unlike most overseas study programs in Britain (which usually assign students to double and triple rooms in run-down areas often much further away from the college) we ask for your preferences and do our best to secure your first or second choice.
Since housing in the very center of Oxford is very expensive, we have to have a surcharge for the more expensive rooms. Every student may choose normal housing still near the center at no extra charge.
A few students will ask why they can’t live right next to their college in the center of Oxford. The few rooms available are extremely expensive with similar “location to price” ratios which occurs in places like Manhattan for New York University or Philadelphia for the University of Pennsylvania, for instance.
OSAP offers housing which is as close to the center of Oxford as it is possible to get (for a reasonable rent). The city of Oxford is easy to navigate by foot, bicycle and public transportation.
No specific housing can ever be guaranteed in advance. However, if one of our staff inadvertently promised you specific housing that promise cannot be held valid unless confirmed in writing. (We stress this point in every acceptance letter. Our staff are very much aware of this policy but we want to warn you in advance since misunderstanding is always a possibility).
We often discuss housing choices with students on the phone before their arrival.
Most British or Commonwealth students (once in a while there will be another foreign student from Germany, France etc.) in our housing will be Oxford degree seeking candidates. Sometimes such a student will have to drop out at the last minute for some reason. In that case, since most Oxford students will already have their housing for the year we may invite in a British student from Oxford Brookes University (the other university and a very good one) or a student from another college in Oxford, or a recent graduate or young professional.
Housing is assigned by the OSAP Housing Team (taking into account all your preferences). In the past, they have always been able to offer students either their first (usually) or their second choice. However particular housing can only be offered for one term. We reserve the right to move a student in the second or third term if necessary. A student who violates rules will have to be moved elsewhere.
It is not practical for the Oxford colleges to interview overseas students in advance (as is done with almost all degree candidates, except those from overseas). It happens very seldom, but it does happen, that a JYA student is uncooperative (or even rude) toward his or her housemates or flatmates. The reputation of all North American students in Oxford then suffers as a result. Such a student would have to be moved, perhaps even during the middle of the term.
If a house has noisy parties at night which disturb neighbors, the landlord may require all the students to leave the house and find their own housing for the rest of the term. This happens rarely, but it has happened.
In general, applicants for overseas study should ask themselves (as your overseas advisers have surely pointed out) whether or not they are ready to live in a foreign country and accept different customs and standards. A student who is self-centered and discourteous towards other people (students, teachers, staff, etc.) would not be welcome in Oxford and should not come.
In addition to the housing rules set below, please remember that your admissions letter noted that we pay all utilities charges up to the high level of £10 a week.
When you leave for vacation periods, remember to lock up and turn off utilities. If you are leaving after one term in Oxford, please return your key; you will be charged £50 for any missing keys.
Some of our houses have large gardens and large rooms suitable for parties. We reserve the right (upon two week’s notice) to hold a party (Thanksgiving, etc.) for the benefit of all students in an individual building. We have found by experience that almost all students are happy to co-operate with such communal events.
Please remember that theft does occur in Oxford. You should make sure that your insurance policy covers you for theft or damages to property while you are away. Neither the University, your landlords, nor OSAP will, in any way, be responsible for any loss while you are in Oxford. You should be sure your apartment or house is always locked while you are out and leave a light on when you leave (burglars rarely enter an inhabited flat). Leaving a radio on at a low level may also help. Anything especially valuable (stereo, etc.) should be hidden under a bed or in a cabinet when not in use. Burglars usually act very quickly and steal things in plain sight. Be careful not to leave cameras, wallets, etc. in your coats when you hang them around Oxford.
We include those rules written in part by housing agents for students living in their flats. Please remember that agents are very concerned that the flats are returned to their owners in good condition and that any damage charges are kept to an absolute minimum. The regulations that they have written are not meant to frighten or annoy you, but they believe by being very plain, they will be of help to you in the long run. It is best to call our staff before calling the landlord since we can deal more effectively on your behalf, sometimes we can solve the problem right away ourselves.
"The JCR provided a warm welcome, socially, academically, and athletically, without any regard to associate member status."
"I would say OSAP is better because there is more integration with British students and a better safety net. Plus, the housing is better."