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How I studied physics at Oxford

The course in the physical sciences at Oxford ends with one short, very important exam. At the moment this exam is behind me, but I still don’t know its results. This is an opportune moment to discuss the Oxford education system.


I attended school in York, and when I was 15 years old, I decided to specialize in exact sciences. Accordingly, I was engaged in mathematics, physics and chemistry, preparing for the exams for the “Advanced Level” General Education Certificate.


This level is required for normal admission to English universities. The exams for the “Advanced Level” Certificate are standardized throughout England, and I was among the 4,000 young men and women who successfully passed the exams and were eligible for state benefits at the university. However, I have already decided to try to get to Oxford, and although most English universities accept students based on the results of their “advanced” exams, the system of admission to Oxford and Cambridge universities is quite peculiar.


The separate colleges of Oxford and Cambridge differ from each other, but basically there are three main acceptance methods. The first is open scholarship exams; it is used by most candidates. Examinations last about one week, and they are eligible for candidates who passed the “advanced” exams in the previous year (this condition in itself serves as a major obstacle for many candidates). The second method is admission exams without awarding scholarships; this method is now rapidly dying off as a result of the increasing competition for places at the university. The third method provides only an oral survey in conjunction with the results of school graduation exams or exams "advanced level".


I took part in the open scholarship exams, organized by a group of Oxford colleges (almost half of the 23 colleges that make up Oxford University), and was awarded one of the highest places in Ballyol College.


Education in Oxford is very expensive. Beautiful old buildings have to be repaired all the time, and large sums are spent on their maintenance. In addition to the south, the university has a very high ratio of teaching staff to the number of students. Very few families are able to finance their own education of a son or daughter, and almost every student receives some kind of allowance. Anyone who earns a place at the university is entitled to benefits from their local education department, and the level of benefits depends on the income of the student’s parents. Thus, a student from a well-to-do family receives very little, while a student from a poor family receives an allowance covering his living expenses and tuition fees. My father serves as a lecturer on the history of architecture at Durham University. He gets a decent salary, and they demand that he take over some of the expenses on my education at Oxford. In addition, the scholarship I received from Ballyol College was £ 80. Art. per year, so I was quite happy with my financial situation. With the current system, most students have enough money for everything they need, and, apart from a handful of very rich students, everyone is approximately in the same position. en.viplviv.com