By Eve Tranter
The collegiate system in Oxford is unique, but it’s one of the things that makes studying here so special. Your college is where you have tutorials for the duration of your degree, but it’s also where you eat, sleep and socialise for at least the first year.
Colleges have a variety of rooms on site. Everyone is randomly allocated an on site room in the first year of their degree. In the latter years, on site rooms are either allocated on a ballot basis, or students choose to ‘live out’ in privately rented housing. Speak to older years to get an idea of what the majority of 2nd/3rd/4th years do, and when to start planning.
Each college holds its room ballot, which is the day in which you choose your college room for the following year, at slightly different times. My college always holds it at the beginning of Hilary (2nd) term, with 3rd years choosing their rooms first, and 1st years choosing their rooms last. We get allocated a number in the ballot, based on how ‘nice’ our room was the previous year. This tends to mean that older years get the better rooms in college. Another thing to note is that some colleges stage the pricing of their accommodation based on the facilities offered in the room (e.g. whether it is en suite), which is worth checking out before picking a room.
Private housing is organised independently. Oxford housing is in demand, so make sure that you start checking RightMove early in Michaelmas term to get a feel for the houses that are available. It’s worth chatting to your potential housemates early on to make a list of features you would like in the house, for example, if you prefer double or single rooms. Houses tend to get signed really quickly, so make sure you’re on it with booking viewings!
Information about accommodation at colleges can be found on the University of Oxford website (https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/colleges/a-z-of-colleges) including how many years of on site accommodation is offered. Another great resource is the ‘Alternative Prospectus’ published by JCRs, which can be found on the college’s website. If you have any specific requirements, these can always be accommodated by speaking to the Domestic Bursar at your college, or accommodation staff. Their emails can usually be found on the college website.