The Oxford-Cambridge rivalry may never end, but it’s time for us to crunch the numbers and find out once and for all which university is the best.
We’ve looked at statistics that cover everything from the standard of education, the cost of the university experience – and most importantly, the influence each university has had on the world at large.
Value for money?
Cambridge and Oxford are pretty much neck and neck when it comes to tuition fees. UK/EU undergraduates have to pay approximately £9,250 per year – although Cambridge is more expensive for students from further afield, with international fees costing up to £25,275 per year, in comparison to the Oxford limit of £23,190.
When it comes to master’s and doctoral programs, Cambridge is cheaper than Oxford. Prices are capped at £13,500, whereas our westerly cousins charge up to £16,770 annually to study.
When it comes to admissions rates, 21.5 per cent of applicants get accepted by Cambridge, compared to just 17 per cent at Oxford. This means that a prestigious education offered by Cambridge isn’t as unattainable as you may initially believe.
Quality of education
According to the 2018 QS World University Rankings, Cambridge is the fifth best in the world – while Oxford is shut out of the top five at number six.
The same study found out that Cambridge is ranked second best in the world by academics and first by employers. By contrast, Oxford was found fourth and second respectively in these categories.
According to 2017’s rankings, Cambridge is ranked among the world’s best for 39 subjects, two more than Oxford. However, whereas we rank second in the world for archaeology and English, Oxford ranks first.
Cambridge doesn’t rank first in the world for any subject. However, it does rank second for the following courses; Anatomy & Physiology, Anthropology, Archaeology, Civil Engineering, English Language & Literature, Geography and Modern Languages.
Other recent rankings include the Times Higher Education ranking, where Cambridge was placed 7th, and Oxford 2nd, beaten by the California Institute of Technology. The Academic Ranking of World Universities put Cambridge in fifth and Oxford in 10th, in a poll topped by Harvard.
The best clubs and bars
As much as the quality of education, when assessing the strengths of each university, the nightlife of both cities has to be taken into account. After all, the University experience isn’t as pivotal if you haven’t got the nights out on the town to back it up.
Recently, the Cambridge News has put together a list of the best nightclubs in Cambridge. We singled out an eclectic variety of clubs from the tiki-themed Lola Lo, the epic entertainment offered at Kuda, and the variety of student events at Fez Club. And this is before we even consider the wealth of alcohol-fuelled fun offered by each Cambridge college.
We’ve also compiled a list of our favourite bars, and once again, there is something for everybody in Cambridge. There’s cocktail heaven at innovative bars 2648 and La Raza, the movie star chic of Baroosh, and the jazzy atmosphere of the wonderful Hidden Rooms.
But how does this compare to Oxford? Shamefully, Oxford is home to far more nightclubs than Cambridge – but on the plus side, these have significantly longer queues than the clubs in our city.
Nights out in Oxford will largely be spent outside in the cold, waiting to get in to an overcrowded and sweat-soaked venue where you’ll be queuing for hours to get served.
Notable Oxford clubs include Atik (the biggest club in Oxford), Emporium, The Bridge and their very own Lola Lo and 02 Academy venues. Bars include cocktail bars Thirst and the Duke of Cambridge, with excellent pubs including the Kings Arms and the Lamb and Flag.
When it comes to movies, Cambridge alumni beat Oxford once again – former university students have won ten Academy Awards in total, in comparison to the five won by former Oxford students.
These range from actors including Eddie Redmayne, Tilda Swinton, Rachel Weisz and Emma Thompson, to filmmakers including American Beauty director Sam Mendes.
Famous film faces from Oxford include Rosamund Pike and Hugh Grant, however, it’s the directors who attended Oxford that have been the bigger Oscar winners.
King’s Speech director Tom Hooper is the most recent recipient – while other noted filmmakers who attended that university include Terrence Malick and Ken Loach.
As for famous people who haven’t won awards, a plethora of well-known celebrities have attended Cambridge.
These include Oscar nominees like Sir Ian McKellen and Naomie Harris, to famous actors ranging from Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, to Tom Hiddleston and Sacha Baron Cohen. As for British comedians, the likes of Mitchell and Webb, John Cleese, Jimmy Carr and Sue Perkins are all Cambridge alumni too!
However, when it comes to politicians, Oxford have us beat. Fifteen Prime Ministers attended Cambridge, in comparison to a whopping 27 who went to Oxford; Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron and Theresa May are all Oxford alumni.
In fact, Cambridge hasn’t produced a Prime Minister since the 1930s, when Stanley Baldwin was re-elected – the closest we’ve got to power is Nick Clegg, who was deputy prime minister during the coalition government years.
We don’t have many international heads of state either. Oxford can claim multiple Australian Prime Ministers (including their current PM Malcolm Turnbull), as well as former US President Bill Clinton, who studied there between 1968 and 1970. The best we’ve got to offer in this department are the current leaders of Jordan, Trinidad & Tobago and Singapore.
It seems like Cambridge produces those who make an impact in culture, while Oxford produces those who go on to lead the world. No wonder the rivalry continues long after graduation!
More fun statistics
Cambridge trounces Oxford when it comes to Pulitzer Prize winners. Ten winners are former Cambridge alumni, compared to one from Oxford. We’ve also got more Turing Award winners (four to three) and Field Medals (eight to three) than Oxford alumni too.
When it comes to the research undertaken by the universities, Thomson Reuters find that Cambridge University were the more cited academic resource of the two – even though Cambridge spends less of its budget (31 per cent in total) on research than Oxford (who spend 40 per cent of their budget on research). That’s just how influential we are.
Cambridge is widely seen to be the most influential of the two universities, with well-regarded research, courses and future employment prospects- as well as the calibre of its graduates. If you hope to become a politician, then Oxford might be the place for you to go, but if not, you should apply to attend Cambridge in a heartbeat.