Former international students talk about the Colleges system at Oxford University

College at Oxford University (UK) is like a miniature university with students from many different disciplines but does not have a training function for master's and doctoral programs.

Assoc.Prof.Dr. Phan Phi Anh, working at Oxford University, research in Medical Equipment industry, Dr. Chu Cong Son (completed a PhD program in Magnetic Metamaterials) and Ms. Tran My Ngoc (former student of the program) Master's Degree Program in Language Education from Oxford University) asserts that all Colleges (including Linacre College) do not have the function of training and supervising students' learning at master's level and above. This is managed by departments.

Master Tran My Ngoc (second from left) at St Cross College. Photo: NVCC.
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Master Tran My Ngoc (second from left) at St Cross College. Photo: NVCC.

College does not have the function of training master level or higher

Assoc. Member universities are similar to each state with independent financial and management systems (except for 3 schools of St Cross, Reuben and Kellogg). The role of colleges with students depends on the level of study.

For bachelor's degrees, colleges have the main function of training and providing living space, creating the best academic environment for students. Here, both students follow the tutorial system (tutor) and the professor, who is in charge of teaching, usually a member of the college, works and lives together at the school.

Although there is a training function, colleges do not have the right to evaluate and score and must go through the Oxford University Council when they want to grant degrees to students.

Students of all colleges must take a final exam (common question) at Examination Schools. Colleges cross-check. The achievement of each college will be assessed through the annual student test scores on the Norrington board.

In contrast to the bachelor's degree, the college has no obligation to train and teach students at the master's level or higher. This will be handled by each department. Linacre College is a college for graduate students. Therefore, the school does not have a training function. College only focuses on providing living, exchange and academic sharing for students. Similar to the university level, the assessment of subject scores / graduation essays will be done by the faculty, the results will be returned to each college to grant a degree (still must be approved by the Oxford University Council).

The name of the college is on the diploma but doesn't make much of a difference. It is only for information like the hometown in the identity card.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Phi Anh, Dr. Chu Cong Son, and Master Tran My Ngoc added that each college has an independent financial and management system, but enrollment must still be approved by the Oxford University Council.

In the application, candidates are given a priority list of 3 schools that they want to enter the most. But this is not mandatory. They may not choose.

Colleges play no role in admissions. After receiving the passing information from the school board, the candidate will be selected by a college (which has the major to study). Three priority schools will make their selection first.

If all 3 schools do not accept the candidate, his application will be sent to other member universities. Students who do not accept the choice of the college will refuse to attend the University of Oxford.

Each college has its own library, hall, dormitory, classroom, and lecture hall. However, usually, each college has a certain number of rooms, only the lucky students who can register for a place in the school will stay at the college.

Others can stay in residential areas under the management of the college or rent a house on their own, as long as it is within a 15-20 km radius from the school.

The Vietnamese Student Association in Oxford had dinner at Harris Manchester College in 2016. Photo: NVCC.
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The Vietnamese Student Association in Oxford had dinner at Harris Manchester College in 2016. Photo: NVCC.

A meeting place for students from different disciplines


This allows students to meet, learn, exchange with friends from other fields, interact with many different perspectives, thereby creating a multi-disciplinary learning environment.

Dr. Chu Cong Son said he studied engineering, but at Harris Manchester College, he interacted with students studying social fields such as philosophy and theology. He feels that thanks to that, he can open his eyes and learn from friends of the same age.

Similarly, Master My Ngoc shared that thanks to the college system in Oxford, she became acquainted with her friends in the Faculty of Business Administration (MBA), Molecular Science and other diverse sciences, broadening her understanding of the subject. professions that I have never known.

"I am also fortunate to have the opportunity to build a good relationship with the professor through evening parties at the college", Ms. Ngoc confided.

Colleges also have memorable features for alumni. According to Dr. Cong Son, Harris Manchester College is a school for adult students (age 21 and older) at all levels.

He rated Harris Manchester as one of the colleges with delicious food with the most reasonable cost compared to other colleges. The school specializes in social studies, economics, philosophy, especially theology.

Meanwhile, St Cross College of Master Tran My Ngoc is a school for postgraduate students, about 250 students each year.

My Ngoc said the food here is very good. Besides, 40% of learners are international students. The atmosphere is very friendly and culturally diverse. The school often organizes fairs for students to learn about different cultures.

In addition, each student has 3 mentors, one on academic issues, one on life issues, psychology and the other on work-related issues, job opportunities. In a semester, students must arrange at least 1-2 sessions with each counselor so that the school can understand the student's situation.

Talking about the college model at Oxford University, Dr. Chu Cong Son noted that people often rate schools by the amount of money they have, but this is not true.

According to him, learners do not have the right to choose a college. Schools founded in different years. With old schools, alumni are all nobles of the past, often giving charity to the alma mater. Therefore, these colleges are usually very rich.

Meanwhile, newly established colleges like Linacre, St cross or Harris Manchester are poorer.

"The system of enrollment, assessment, and degree granting does not depend on the college, so it can be said that the quality of each college does not depend on the wealth and poverty of each college," added Dr. Chu Cong Son.

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