Our Ultimate Guide: What is an Oxford Summer School and Is It Worth It?

Ideal for ambitious students looking to get ahead academically and immerse themselves in British culture, attending an Oxford Summer School is a popular way to dip a toe in the water and experience authentic student life at the world’s most famous university.



Categories: Uncategorized

May 25, 2022

Ideal for ambitious students looking to get ahead academically and immerse themselves in British culture, attending an Oxford Summer School is a popular way to dip a toe in the water and experience authentic student life at the world’s most famous university. An essential read for anyone serious about Oxford, our complete guide will answer all of your burning questions about Oxford Summer Schools. Find out if they’re really worth it, which summer school is the best, and – the big one- will it actually help get you into Oxford..?!

Is Oxford Summer School Legitimate?

There’s an enormous range of providers to choose from, and some are more reputable than others. Avoid the shadier outfits by doing a few smart checks. How many students have attended their summer courses and how long has the company been around for? It’s generally always better to go with an established, long-running school that you can trust to know their stuff. What accreditations and awards do they have? If they’re accredited by the British Council, that’s a good sign.Oxford Royale and Bucksmore each have a whole page dedicated to theirs. Check out their reviews on impartial sites such as reviews.co.uk and gooverseas.com, and have a look at their social media. If you can’t find them or they have a lot of negative reviews, ding ding ding – alarm bells should ring! And it goes without saying, but if their website is peppered with bad English and doesn’t feel very professional, they probably aren’t!

Are Oxford Summer Schools Affiliated with Oxford University?

Some are, some aren’t. In short, choose carefully and think about what’s important to you! They fall into three main categories: the University of Oxford’s official summer school is run by its Department for Continuing Education, which offers as ‘real’ an experience as you can possibly get. Others are run by independent companies which use the university’s accommodation and facilities but aren’t officially affiliated with it. These providers can be an excellent choice and are often a happy medium – you get an authentic university experience whilst also enjoying everything else that makes a summer school fun – such as the extracurricular activities and trips! Oxford Summer Courses, SBC, Bucksmore and Oxford Royale are great examples of these. Finally, some summer schools aren’t connected to the university and their accommodation is totally separate. They offer a brilliant opportunity to explore the unique city of Oxford, but won’t get you behind the scenes at the University of Oxford itself. St Giles and Embassy Summer are two of these – their accommodation is actually at Oxford Brookes, not to be confused with the University of Oxford.

How do you Apply for Oxford Summer School?

For most providers, applying is very easy and simply involves filling in an online application form and paying a deposit – with no academic pre-requisites (though you may need a sufficient level of English depending on the course). Some courses will be more challenging than others but they’re always offered at different levels and for different age groups. Almost all of them require a decent standard of English language ability, as your lessons will be in English.

Which is the Best Oxford Summer School?

Check out our comprehensive guide – we’ve sifted through all of the Oxford Summer Schools out there for you (you’re welcome)! We’ve looked at how long they’ve been around for and what accreditations they have, checked their reviews, compared value for money and accommodation options, whether or not they offer flexible booking – the whole shebang. And we think Oxford Royale comes out top, with Immerse Education in second place and  Bucksmore Education coming in at third. Explore the full, ranked list here

Is Attending an Oxford Summer School Worth It?

Yes! Attending an Oxford Summer School is a fantastic way to broaden your horizons both academically and socially – a very productive use of your summer holidays! You can study a completely new subject not offered on your school curriculum, explore a passion in a lot more depth, or test out the subject you’re considering for university. You’ll also get to experience real student life at the world-famous University of Oxford and work out if it’s for you before taking the plunge and starting your application. And summer schools are usually a lot of fun! You’ll make new friends from all over the world and enjoy an action-packed extra-curricular programme with activities and trips around the city of Oxford as well as further afield.

How do You Apply for An Oxford Summer School?

Check each provider’s website. You can almost always apply online but you’ll also be able to chat through any questions you may have with someone on the phone. You’ll usually need to fill out an application form, decide which subject/s you’d like to study and where you’d like to stay, pay your fee, and that’s it – easy!

What is an Oxford University College?

The University of Oxford is made up of a whopping 39 different colleges peppered around the city, which are essentially academic communities where students sleep, dine and have their tutorials. Each college has its own history and distinct personality, and all are architecturally stunning. Founded in 1263, Balliol is Oxford’s oldest college, whilst literary giants J.R.R. Tolkien and T.S. Eliot studied at Merton College. The entrance exam at elusive All Souls College is famed for being the hardest in the whole world, whilst Christ Church is popular for being where the dining hall scenes in Harry Potter were filmed!

What Accommodation Do Oxford Summer Schools Offer?

Different summer schools offer accommodation at different Oxford colleges, or not at all. Oxford Royale has seven Oxford colleges to choose from, including Queen’s and Balliol, whilst Summer Boarding Courses has two options (Wycliffe Hall or University College), and Immerse Education has three, including Lady Margaret Hall. You can usually select a first and second choice when you’re applying. Think about what you’re looking for. Some colleges will offer en-suite single rooms whilst others will have shared rooms only (great for making friends!). Almost all will have their own dining room, library and common room. Do you want to be right in the city centre (if so, Queen’s is the one for you) or are you after tranquility and some space (Magdalen has beautiful grounds with a river, as well as its own deer park!)?

How Much Does an Oxford Summer School Cost?

Your summer school fee will typically include teaching, accommodation, meals, activities and day trips. You’ll have to organise and pay for your flights separately. Course lengths vary, but for a two-week programme you’re looking at anything between £900 (CIE Oxford) and £5,595 (Oxford Royale). Inbetween those two, you’ve got Oxford Scholastica at £4795, SBC at £3,300 and Oxford Spires at £1,380. And for the very best students who simply don’t have the cash, scholarships are often available; check out our essential guide to winning an Oxford Summer School scholarship here!

Will an Oxford Summer School Help me Get Into Oxford, Cambridge or Another University?

The big question! Attending an Oxford Summer School is a fantastic way to develop both personally and academically. After an unforgettable summer in Oxford, you’ll have gained confidence and independence and have tried out a lot of new things. You’ll have received world-class tuition in your chosen subject and have confirmed that Oxford is truly for you. Getting into the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge or other top UK universities are extremely competitive, so anything that might give you an edge beyond good grades – including travel, hobbies or extra-curricular interests- is very important. It’ll certainly boost your university application, as many schools offer personal statement and CV workshops as well as interview technique coaching. 

Good luck and have a great summer!