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The Quirks of Oxford and Cambridge

By Rachel Nash

Posted: 17th October 2012 09:30

Travelling half way across the world to study may seem excessive but if it’s to graduate at the university with the most Nobel Prize winners (Cambridge) or to attend the same one that 26 British Prime ministers did (Oxford) then it’s worth it.  Oxford and Cambridge are the most prestigious universities in the UK and considered two of the best in the world but there’s much more to them than league tables.  They hide a whole list of quirks so read on to find out why student life isn’t just brown buildings and old books.


Oxford is the only university in the world that grants the ‘Rhodes’ scholarship to international students.  Considered the “world’s most prestigious award” those offered the scholarship can study a masters or second undergraduate degree in any subject they desire.  Scholars receive a monthly maintenance to cover all accommodation fees and living expenses.  The scholarship brings together students from a range of different countries all around the world.  To find out more about the ‘Rhode’s’ scholarship visit the website here


Cambridge is the not only the wealthiest university in the whole of the UK but also the whole of Europe.  The university runs on a budget of over £1 billion per year and with so much money funded from the government and benefactors into Cambridge, the better its equipment, books and buildings are. 

‘Bump Racing’

Oxford and Cambridge are renowned for their traditional, intense rivalry when it comes to rowing.  It has become an annual event, is known across the world and screened live on TV.  During the event ‘bump racing’, takes place when a number of boats chase one another attempting to catch and ‘bump’ with the one in front and is primarily used at both universities.   


During the Oxford and Cambridge graduation ceremonies, when the Praelector presents the graduate with their degree, they’ll read their speech in Latin.  This tradition only takes place at the two universities and another quirk which helps them both to stand out from the crowd. 

In the Media

Unlike some universities such as Harvard; Oxford and Cambridge allow films and television series to be filmed on site.  Legendary buildings from both universities are recognised all around the world in valued films such as ‘An Education’, ‘Chariots of Fire’ and TV series ‘Inspector Morse’ and ‘Brideshead Revisited’.  Studying at either university has meant an appearance in a famous film for several past students who have been chosen as extras. 

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