Oxford and Cambridge have a unique system where an admitted student is a member of a college as well as the department of the subject that they are studying. Both universities have around 30 semi-autonomous colleges. You may have seen photos of King’s College in Cambridge or Christ Church College in Oxford, where some scenes of the Harry Potter movies were filmed.
The universities also have picturesque campuses that make you feel as if you are in a museum! Despite many similarities, there are certain differences between these schools. In the very broad sense, Oxford is known to be stronger in social sciences while Cambridge is better in the sciences.
This trend becomes clear with the following statistics. Of the 56 British Prime Ministers, 27 are Oxford graduates compared to 14 from Cambridge, with the majority of Prime Ministers in the last century coming from Oxford. Cambridge is more successful when it comes to the Nobel Prize. There are 96 people affiliated with Cambridge who have won a Nobel Prize compared to 51 from Oxford.
When it comes to the business schools, there are other comparisons to be made. Oxford has a class size that is almost double that of Cambridge. However, Cambridge is building new facilities and may grow their student body soon. Although a larger class size is usually favored for MBA programs, both business schools are embedded within the broader university. Therefore, MBA students have many opportunities to meet other university students through the college system or social activities.
The greatest difference between the two business schools is their guiding principles. Oxford embraces social entrepreneurship. The Skoll Center, a leading institution for advancing social entrepreneurship, is part of the business school. Additionally, this topic is embedded throughout the curriculum with various classes and two projects. The first is the GOTO project covering topics such as the future of work and water scarcity. The second is an entrepreneurship project. Many students develop their entrepreneurship project into full-time ventures once they graduate from the program.
On the other hand, Cambridge follows a more traditional MBA philosophy. The program has two consulting projects built into it, called the Cambridge Venture Project and the Global Consulting Project. Students have the opportunity to work with companies with both of these long-term consulting projects. Some students ultimately end up working full-time in these companies. The firms that take part in these projects range from start-up firms to large corporates such as Google, L’Oreal, Unilever, and Merck. Needless to say, these projects are a great way to enhance one’s resume.
Cambridge is nicknamed Silicon Fen, referring to Silicon Valley. The city is home to hundreds of tech companies and startups. This is partly due to the strength of the Cambridge Science Park, which opened in 1970. MBA students have an opportunity to intern or work for startup firms in the area.
Oxford has a slight lead in terms of global reputation and brand recognition. When speaking with Americans, typically they have a better impression of Oxford than Cambridge. I believe that this is a result of several factors. The first is the Rhodes Scholarship, which was awarded to Bill Clinton and other public figures from the US. Additionally, many famous politicians and writers have studied at Oxford. However, in the United Kingdom, the two schools are considered to be equals.
In terms of the MBA, Judge is ahead in the Financial Times rankings and is ranked number 5 in the world. One should always take these rankings with a grain of salt. I believe that both business schools will ultimately converge and climb in the rankings in the long term. Both schools have a tremendous alumni base, great facilities, access to the best resources in the UK, and a great brand name.
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Rona is an Oxford MBA graduate and she has successfully assisted clients in applying to Said and Judge as well as other top programs both in the US and internationally. If you would like to learn more about my services and how I can help you with your applications, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation.