Why Hertford?


There are nearly 40 colleges that admit students to the University of Oxford.  Although colleges resemble each other in many crucial respects, each has its own character.  When you apply to Oxford you will be asked to choose which one you’d like to join (or you can make an ‘open application’, in which case the University will assign you to a college for consideration).  The question is, why choose Hertford?

Hertford is a ‘mixed’ college, mixed in the sense that it admits both undergraduate and graduate students.  We have about 400 of the former and 200 of the latter, a medium-sized college.  Like all colleges, we offer a range of subjects, and to teach them we employ around 60 tutors and lecturers.  Like all colleges we admit both male and female students, though we are proud of the fact that we were one of the first colleges to become ‘mixed’ in this sense too.  We are a city-centre college, located directly opposite the main University library (the Bodleian) and handily located for all the lecture theatres, libraries and laboratories you will use.  But then so are several other colleges, so the question again is, why choose Hertford?

Academic considerations

Top of your list when making your choice should be academic considerations.  Does the college offer the degree you want to do?  Who are the tutors and lecturers in that subject in the college?  What are the other academic resources available in the college, its library provision for instance? (Hertford’s well-stocked library is open 24/7.)  In practice students at any and every college will have access to the full range of expertise throughout the University, but for some of your time in Oxford you will be taught by the college tutors.  For details of the degree courses we offer, and the people who teach them, see here


Hertford is a top-performing college in academic terms, and when we look at applicants your academic potential is our first concern.  But there are other considerations when choosing a college.  What is the accommodation like and how much will it cost?  Unlike many colleges, Hertford guarantees that all its undergraduates can live in College residences for every year of their degree.  What other facilities are available, for sport, for music, for clubs of all kinds?  Answers to all these questions can be found on this site.

Financial assistance

Crucially, what financial assistance is there with fees?  The Hertford Undergraduate Bursary guarantees a further £1000 to every recipient of the Oxford Opportunity Bursary.  That is our tangible commitment to ensuring that talented applicants, whatever their financial background, will be able to study at Oxford.

Alternative Prospectus

The best people to ask about the student experience are current students.  We like to think of ourselves as a friendly college, but if you want to know whether that image is true look up the student authored Alternative Prospectus here.

Our history

Less tangible factors might influence your decision, such as college history and tradition, our alumni and the careers they’ve followed.  Hertford is both an old and a (relatively) new college.  It was originally founded in 1282, and then after a chequered history refounded in 1874.  That means we have the best of the old and the new.  Former students include: William Tyndale, translator of the Bible; the poet John Donne; the philosopher Thomas Hobbes; the satirist Jonathan Swift; the radical politician Charles James Fox; the novelist Evelyn Waugh; the news presenters Fiona Bruce and Natasha Kaplinsky; and the jazz-rap star Soweto Kinch.  Hertford alumni are diverse, and so are our students; and they go on to a diverse range of occupations ranging from artist to zoologist. 

Visit us

You don’t have to rely on leaflets and websites to help make up your mind: come and see Oxford for yourself.  Details of University, departmental and college open days are available on the admissions website, which also carries information about summer schools, taster days and other activities: http://www.hertford.ox.ac.uk/discover-hertford/undergraduates.  Hertford also arranges regular visits for schools and our students are also keen to make contact with schools and potential applicants through their ambassador scheme and e-mentoring scheme.  And as the sign on our door says, ‘Prospective Applicants are Always Welcome’.

Applying to Hertford

Having chosen your College, you’ll now need to know how to apply.  The University Admissions website gives full details of the process but there is some further guidance under the relevant subject pages on this site.