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Applying to Oxford from Switzerland

By Léonie Sonderegger

When you grow up in Switzerland, it is expected of you to visit a Swiss university, as it is also the cheapest option, compared to many other European countries, paying only 800 CHF for semester. But if you’ve been in the UK during your school time and you have seen the beautiful old buildings in Oxford, the array of colleges to choose from and the 286 variations of subjects, you will quickly be persuaded into coming here. However, unlike Switzerland it’s not simply “sign-up and come”, you will undergo a variety of exams, interviews and processes to get in.

The 15/10 was the deadline for the registration of Oxford, so what now? With most subjects you will be expected to write an entry exam… where in Switzerland can you do that (except at the given international schools). You will have to research an examination centre or ask your school to seek permission from the Oxbridge board to write your exam at the given time. Depending on the region you are applying from, you have to expect to travel to take the exam.

Next: the interviews. After being invited to my interviews, I found a surprising lack of opportunities to prepare for them. I had to rely onto my experiences with job interviews, only to find that there is no comparison to the Oxford interviews. Nevertheless, if you want to have some help, reach out to people at the university, you will most likely find someone to help you with your process and interviews or even just give you a brief insight on how it all works. (Luckily, I was blessed by having help from someone very familiar with the system).

You should expect challenging questions about your subject and personal statement, but don’t be afraid. If you do your research about the subject you want to study, and revise what you wrote in your personal statement, you should be just fine.

Applying to Oxford as a Swiss person is always harder than for say an English person. You are juggling 13 subjects, upcoming mock matura exams, no interview preparation or help from your peers, if you manage all that, chapeau to you. Trust me though, every minute of your preparation IS WORTH IT!

When looking at the finances, you will see that Oxford will charge you overseas status if you don’t have an EU passport to show. The high tuition fees are something scary, you maybe won’t be able to manage them, but don’t let that scare you! Apply for scholarships in Switzerland, go to and write endless applications (I wrote to about 100 institutions). You will find that a lot of them are willing to support you.

So why choose the difficult path instead of the easy one? Why choose Oxford over Switzerland? By coming here, you will experience a unique setting of ambitious people all over the university, all working hard to get where they want to, knowing that they are in one of the best universities of the world, making their time worthwhile. You will delve into tradition, modernity, rituals and get to know the brightest people the world has to offer.

By coming here, you will open a path of opportunities for yourself and have the best time of your life!

Oxford would be fortunate to have you.


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