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Oxford and Cambridge Applications for Singapore Students Print

Oxford and Cambridge applications for Singapore students

If you are thinking of applying to Oxbridge universities, meaning the University of Oxford or Cambridge University in the UK, you need to know that you cannot apply to both universities in the same year. You have to decide between Oxford or Cambridge as the British authorities want to spread the top students and avoid unneccesary administrative workload for these popular universities.

When you achieved a certain cut-off point for your IB or GCE A-level results, you are eligible to apply to Oxbridge universities. Eligiblity in this case is like buying a TOTO ticket - you are eligible to win the top prize but not guaranteed to win it. Some ACSI students jumped for joy when they scored 38-39 points which made them eligible for Oxbridge and they thought they will get a place just like in PSLE. After your UCAS application, there are next few steps. Next, you will be informed to take the relevant entrance test eg LNAT.  If your entrance test results meet Oxbridge cut-off, you will be shortlisted for interviews. Most applicants get 2-3 rounds of interviews with professors and tutors from the specific college that they apply to. From these interviews, about 15% -17% of interviewees will do well and get a place to study in Oxford or Cambridge. The interviews at Oxbridge are academic interviews. They don't care much about your CCA, CIP , NS or student leadership achievements. Yes, SAF NS clerks have been admitted to Oxbridge but not SAF officers.

Once you have decided which university, you then go to the next stage where you decide which college to apply to. Both Oxford and Cambridge are collegiate universities meaning that you study and live at the college which you are admiited to. There is no central campus as such. At your college you will be taught by professors or PhD students who are your subject tutors. In Oxford, this face-to-face session is called tutorial. In Cambridge, it is called supervision. There will be some university-level lectures but it is not the core of your Oxbridge experience.

Again, you have to choose your college carefully as it will determine close to 80% of your student experience in Oxford or Cambridge. Each college has its own admission criteria incorporating the baseline requirements of the university. Each college has its own website and you should do a virtual tour of all the websites before you decide on which college to apply. If you are rejected by one college, you normally cannot apply to another college in the same year. Unlike other universities, Oxford and Cambridge will interview all applicants and may give conditional offers before you have your exam results. Both universities prefer students who are academically bright and are independent learners. In their admission process, they do not consider CCA, CIP or student leadership achievements. They are only interested in the academic ability of the applicant in relation to the course of study.

Cambridge University has 31 colleges of which 3 colleges admit women only - Murray Edwards, Newham and Lucy Cavendish. University of Oxford has 39 colleges and some small religious permanent private halls (PPH) which also admit students. Some Oxford colleges admit graduate students only. By the way, Oxford University is the oldest university system in the world, followed by Cambridge University which was set up later. Later on, graduates of Oxbridge went on to set up universities such Harvard and Yale in USA.

Important Note: The Oxbridge colleges are NOT the same! Some colleges are richer and they can offer more facilities and resources to their students. The richer colleges are more well-funded and can afford to hire better professors and they also offer more academic support to their students. The poorer colleges have less funds and resources and these factors affect their teaching quality as well. Some less-endowed colleges are well-known for emphasising independent self-learning. Each year, the colleges are ranked by their academic achievements in terms of First Class Honours achieved and these rankings have a direct correlation to the quality of teaching at each college. All undergraduate students arrived at Oxford or Cambridge on the first day as equals but after three years they would have vastly different enlightenment That's a unique feature of Oxbridge universities. Regardless of this diversity in the colleges, all Oxbridge students are top students of their countries and will graduate with a prestigious, world-class degree from University of Oxford or Cambridge University. Both universities are good brand names for a lifelong resume.

Fun fact: In the early days of PSC scholarships in the 1970s and 1980s, scholars could not choose their universities and most of them were sent to Cambridge University by default.

If you are interested in a bond-free scholarship (yes, free money with no bond) to study at Oxford or Cambridge, you may consider the Jardine Foundation Scholarship Programme at: www.jardines.com/en/community/foundation.html

For more information about University of Oxford's Norrington Table (annual rankings of Oxford colleges), you may visit : www.oxfordstudent.com.

For the annual rankings of Cambridge University colleges, see the Tompkins Table at:www.varsity.co.uk

Colleges of Cambridge University   (Admission Rate: About 19%)

  1. Emmanuel
  2. Trinity - Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong and Lee Hsien Yang attended this college. Also Isaac Newton's college in year 1661.
  3. Churchill
  4. Trinity Hall
  5. Pembroke
  6. Christ's - Singapore's ministers George Yeo, Lim Hng Kiang, Heng Swee Keat and Chan Chun Sing attended this college
  7. Selwyn
  8. Jesus
  9. Magdalene
  10. Clare
  11. St Catharine's
  12. Corpus Christi
  13. Gonville and Caius
  14. Queen's
  15. St John's
  16. King's
  17. Sidney Sussex
  18. Downing
  19. Peterhouse
  20. Robinson
  21. Fitzwilliam - Former Singapore PM Lee Kuan Yew's college
  22. Murray Edwards
  23. Girton - Kwa Geok Choo's college (Lee Kuan Yew's wife) and Singapore's first female minister Lim Hwee Hua's college
  24. Newham
  25. Homerton
  26. Wolfson
  27. Hughes Hall
  28. St Edmunds
  29. Lucy Cavendish

Colleges of University of Oxford
    (Admission Rate about 17%)

  1. Merton
  2. Worcester - billionaire media tycoon Rupert Murdoch's college
  3. New
  4. Jesus
  5. St. John - Former Britain PM Tony Blair and former Thailand PM Abhisit's college
  6. Wadham
  7. Hertford
  8. Harris Manchester
  9. Magdalen - Former Australia PM Malcolm Fraser's college
  10. Lincoln
  11. St Catherine
  12. St Anne's
  13. Corpus Christi
  14. Exeter - J.R.R. Tolkien's college (The Lord of the Rings) and President's Scholar and Minister Sim Ann's college
  15. St Hugh - Myanmar's political leader Aung San Suu Kyi's college
  16. Christchurch - movie set of Harry Potter series and (Charles Dodgson) Lewis Caroll's college ( Alice's Adventures in Wonderland)
  17. Trinity
  18. Keble - Li Shengwu's college for his Master's degree
  19. Brasenose - Former Britain PM David Cameron's college, former Australia PM Malcolm Turnbull's college
  20. Balliol - Britain's PM Boris Johnson's college, Li Shengwu's college for his PPE degree and billionaire Jim Rogers' college.
  21. St Hilda
  22. St Peter
  23. Oriel
  24. University - Former US President Bill Clinton's college, former Australia PM Bob Hawke's college and science genuis Stephen Hawking's college. Also C. S Lewis' college (The Chronilces of Narnia)
  25. Mansfield
  26. Lady Margaret Hall - Former Pakistan's PM Benazir Bhutto's college and former Britain PM Theresa May's college
  27. Somerville - Former Britain PM Margaret Thatcher's college and former India PM Indira Gandhi's college
  28. St Edmund Hall
  29. Queen - Former Australia PM Tony Abbott's college
  30. Pembroke
  31. Nuffield - Former India PM Mamohan Singh's college
  32. St Benet Hall
  33. Regent's Park
  34. St Antony's
  35. St Stephen's House
  36. Wolfson
  37. Wycliffe Hall
  38. St Cross
  39. Green Templeton
  40. Blackfriars
  41. Kellogg
  42. Linacre
  43. Campion Hall
  44. Reuben College - Oxford's newest college named after Reuben Foundation which sponsored 80 million pounds. The foundation was set up by India-born billionaire brothers David Reuben and Simon Reuben who are now amongst the Top 10 richest British citizens.


Research sponsor: www.rafflesleadership.com

Field research by Jaren Chan in Oxford and Cambridge


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