A college at Oxford and Cambridge is like a mini campus, providing a base for students. Colleges are also responsible for admitting students. A student's preferred college will process their application and is usually where interviews take place (if shortlisted).
If applicants have no college preference when they are applying, there is the option to make an open application. Open applications are allocated to a college by a computer algorithm. When allocated to a college, open applications are treated in the same way as a direct applicant to that college.
Once students are admitted they will be a member of both their college and the University. Colleges are responsible for the academic and pastoral care of their students, and provide accommodation, dining and recreation facilities, as well as facilities for academic study such as libraries and computer rooms.
The majority of University teaching (lectures, seminars, classes, practicals) is organised by the departments and faculties and takes places in mixed college groups. Colleges organise small group teaching sessions (called supervisions at Cambridge and tutorials at Oxford) for their own students.
For more information on the Oxford colleges, please visit the colleges pages of the Oxford website.
For more information on the Cambridge colleges, please visit the colleges pages of the Cambridge website.