Oxford University is a collegiate university. This means that some of the buildings (for example the famous Bodleian Library, faculties, departments and laboratories) are university owned. The University conducts research across a very wide range of academic subjects and provides teaching to students through lectures, seminars and practical classes. Decisions about the syllabus of courses are made by the University, which is also responsible for setting examinations and confering degrees.
Colleges are self-governing independent institutions, with resources and facilities separate from those of the University. They are much more than a hall of residence, even though they do house their students, provide a social base, and offer a wide range of extra-curricular activities. Permanent academic staff have appointments with both the University and College, and research and teach for both. Most importantly, college tutors are responsible for directing and supporting their undergraduates' studies, and for providing and arranging small group college-based tuition. Colleges therefore represent a second and more personal academic focus for students and provide a ready-made smaller community within a larger university. In this setting students find it easy to form friendships, often with others studying different subjects, and to participate in any of the various activities on offer.
The University as a whole has about 12,000 undergraduates and 7,500 graduate students. Worcester is an average sized college, with about 400 undergraduate students and 180 graduate students.
The University, mindful of its legal obligations, does not set any age requirements, but applicants for all undergraduate courses will be expected to demonstrate an approach to the study of their subject, which includes demonstrable skills of critical analysis, wide contextual knowledge and the ability to manage their own time without the external imposition of a full daily timetable.