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Does an Oxbridge college’s wealth matter?(18 Posts)
Is it true that fabulously wealthy colleges such as Trinity, Cambridge or St John’s Oxford offer a better student experience?
Per student each of these colleges have an endowment of £900,000-£1,000,000. Compared to poorer and newer colleges such as St Anne’s Oxford with around £80,000 per student.
Is it true that they tend to achieve better academic results?
Untie purse strings more easily to fund “academic” trips?
From my 20 years ago experience
- more wealthy colleges tend to have more college accommodation (cheaper than renting privately) and
- more wealthy colleges tend to have more money available for both scholarships and hardship funds.
Not sure there is any correlation with academic results.
Well St John's is no longer top of the Norrington table.
It can provide accommodation for all 3 years, in college.
Hardship funds etc are available.
There might be a bit more money for social functions, catering etc.
And fellows might be a bit less stressed (meals, help with housing etc).
But I've known people have a great time at all sorts of colleges.
My college was the poorest of the poor (Mansfield, Oxford), and I had an incredible time. College accommodation for 2/3 years.
Depends how much of that wealth goes to undergrads! Which means finding out if they guarantee housing for all 3 years and if so where, and how much rents are. Travel and book grants are minor factors in comparison. It doesn't necessarily correlate with the wealth of the college (though Trinity Cambridge has cheap rent, so does Clare, for example)
Some of the poorer colleges are further from the centre, and therefore also have masses of cheap housing. For example, Newnham in Cambridge is right by the university library and the site on which most Arts subjects are studied (so very convenient for lectures), and it has loads of housing because, of course, when it was built no one wanted lady students to have to venture far beyond the college walls alone!
As for unstressed fellows - can be true (I know a rich Cambridge college currently offering twice the stipend offered by a poorer one, for the same job, which is a bit irritating). But not invariably - some rich colleges are rich because they are stingy! And you have to take into account that if you are on the tourist trail, for example at King's Cambridge or Christ Church, you may spend your entire degree stumbling over tourists or constantly being told college is closed to visitors and you must show your pass. It could be more relaxing to be somewhere a bit less well-known.
I must admit I thought that going to Oxbridge would be a cheaper option for my DD as it's a rich university. However, when choosing college to apply for we didn't look at cost of rent or length of tenancy. She is at college where all rooms cost the same amount, so there wasn't the opportunity to choose a cheaper option. (some college have rooms a couple of thousand pounds a year less.) The tenancy is 38 weeks a year which further ramps up the charges, at other colleges a 29 week tenancy is offered. So actually she has relied on the Cambridge bursary to live on. In retrospect I think we would have looked at accommodation cost more closely, rather than wealth of the college.
My DD was at Trinity Halland because it is a wealthy College, they had a travel fund the students could apply for. My DD got £800 for a trip and I believe any student who applied got something. That was the only thing that was apparent.
Look at the prospectuses / guides etc. Some will have better deals on rooms / meals eaten in college . But by and large I think it is not a big deal. In general Oxford and Cambridge are relatively cheap for living / eating in college & no I don't believe the richer colleges automatically get better results - only in as much they will be more sought after , but after pooling etc , not sure it matters too much. Ds at Oxford - all rooms same price at his college , his friend is at one where if you want to you can choose a cheaper room. Unless it is absolutely important to your DC I would use say choose the college which is congenial. & if it is important to have the option of cheaper rooms etc then so be it - likewise the Norrington table ( but as others have said - that changes year on year ) - but certainly at Oxford there is no guarantee, even if you get a place , ending up at your first choice college ( & most people are happy there they end up ) Ds has gone to a v small college ( Oxford ) - he thinks that is a great experience , others who have gone to other colleges will differ - No right answer IMHO.
Young relative’s “poor” Oxford College has just forked out for young relative to holiday in Belgium for no particular reason other than really broad, vague “educational” reasons. They do this for many students. Not means tested.
Which is lovely, but shows what “poor” means in an Oxbridge college context.
Is it true that they tend to achieve better academic results?
I really wouldn’t worry about that aspect. A student being comfortable and being a “good fit” is likely to have far more impact on attainment in this context.
There are nice funds - travel perks, book grants, I had a master's degree elsewhere paid for. Plentiful accommodation in College.
Do I think my friends in other colleges missed out or had a worse time? Not a bit of it. Apply for the one that feels right.
I agree with this
"I really wouldn’t worry about that aspect. A student being comfortable and being a “good fit” is likely to have far more impact on attainment in this context. "
ds is at a small very old and central college ( Oxford ) but not one of the big name glamorous ones. He very much likes it and it was his first choice , but many ( and some of his friends ) ended up at a different college than they first applied to and are having a great time. I think the academic results are more to do with the student. A friend of DS is at a college which is relatively well known and was v low on Norrington table two years ago , last year it shot up the rankings. But that will be to some extent the cohort.
I would only advise ( which is what Ds and his friends did ) apply to - in their case Oxford - for the course , then pick a first choice college depending on what you want & where you feel you would be comfortable - so, congenial - - but don't set your heart on a college - you may be sent elsewhere. Some weren't given first choice and are happy , at least one of his friends was offered a different college and is very happy there - they all have their advantages.
e.g. trips and stuff - well I suspect it depends on how much "trips" benefit the course. 3 years college accommodation and being able to eat in Hall is good value for money.
Honestly _ I would look at the more basic things re u/g accommodation , food etc first .
But then I am not an expert ! Just one Ds at one college.
But my gut feel is - no - if you divide the endowment by number of students , no it does not necessarily make for a better student experience or a better shot at academic excellence.
I would be more thinking about central or not / bigger grounds / near the sports facilities / no. of students doing your subject in your year / years available for living in college / available accommodation / how easy to eat in college / near the faculty etc etc Much more prosaic
I'd go for social fit - they are all fine, and you might be pooled anyway. And yeah, if there's really a big difference in rent, that's a fair enough consideration.
When I was there years ago, the only issues people had were where local comprehensive students (like me! - though luckily I got my first choice) were sent on to a college filled with astonishingly rich toffs. I mean they coped, but being flung from XYZ Community College onto the set of Brideshead Revisited was really quite a shock.
Good luck anyway.
I have actually wondered this myself. I always got the impression that my Oxbridge college was relatively (relatively!) brassic compared to Trinity etc. I got the feeling that at Trinity etc there might be more random pots of money floating around (for example I won a £50 essay prize which I was probably the only one entering, I bet the wealthier colleges had loads more of that kind of thing - but then again they would have more people going for the money as well). I wouldn't have swapped my college for anything though, I loved it.
As with anything perception is everything. More money can buy more that is then perceived as desirable. It’s branding isn’t it. Even if the academic output is exactly the same, the wealthier colleges have a better brand to sell on for students.
From what I can gather, there does seem to be a slight correlation between wealth and academic results. In fact, there was an interesting article published on this yesterday!
Dd brought this up in conversation today. Although very happy with her choice in general, she feels her teacher was wrong to say all colleges are the same. Her friend at a rich college pays half for rent and a third for food. She received a lump sum prior to starting for books and if she were on low income would be considered for income related scholarships more than twice the amount my Dd gets. But all the advice above is valid as the chances are you won’t actually end up where you apply.
Academics seem to vary a bit too, as students doing the same course at another colleges get free language tuition, for example. A student doing the same paper at a more academically focused college has been given several mocks for exams which Dd wasn’t offered. Not sure if this offers a better student experience but the money would help a bit