The term "Oxbridge" is used to refer to both Oxford University and the Univeristy of Cambridge. "Camford" is a term seldom if ever used, and no one seems to know why.
The main differences in terminology between the two places are these:
- Bedder (Cambridge) vs. Scout (Oxford) [bedders/scouts clean the students' rooms]
- Court (Cambridge) vs. Quad (Oxford)
That's it, really. Cambridge is famous for its Cavendish lab, its ADC Theatre, and its spies, while Oxford has more of a literary and political tradition. (I am generalizing in a major way, you understand. Each place has elements of the other. For all I know, Oxford has always been riddled with spies; they're just better at not getting caught. And Sylvia Plath and Salman Rushdie attended Cambridge.)
The overriding difference, however, is this: Cambridge is more of a sleepy town, while Oxford is more of a city.
The glossary from St. Edmund's College Notes for Members 2006-2007 provides a good overview. Many of these terms are peculiar to Cambridge. Also see the Trinity College glossary and the glossary of Cambridge jargon from Queens' College.
The following is taken from an email exchange with Stephen Redburn (Cantab/St. Edmund's). I wrote him asking for clarification on a few Oxbridge differences that continue to baffle me:
Lecturer: Employed by a Faculty rather than a college in . Usually needs a PhD but some of the old types when I was up 20 years ago still regarded it as a beastly German invention and just had MAs. I don't think you'd get a job without a PhD now though. Usually a member of a College, but doesn't have to be, in . (They say it is rather lonely to be in and not be in a college.) Expected to lecture and publish papers.
Fellow: On the governing board of a College (or Professional Institute like the Institute of Civil Engineers etc. outside academic life). Divided into levels. The top ones are permanent and have full voting rights and attend the management meetings, but I am sure that at St. Ed's they all attended the monthly meeting.
Professor: In it is the head of the department or equivalent. The old UK system had only one professor but commonly now they have several in a large department. If the job was funded by the Royal Family who put
money into a pot to pay their salary it is called a Regius professor. Regius Professorships are "Royal" Professorships at the universities of , Oxford, , , and and each appointment save those at is approved by the Crown.
Sometimes it is named after some else who put the money up front. One of the oldest professorships in , the Knighbridge Professorship, was founded in 1683 by John Knighbridge, fellow of Peterhouse.
Oxbridge is now following the American pattern of calling more of the Senior staff in a faculty Professors and more Professorships are being funded by the Universities.
At Cambridge a Professor has to be a member of a college and if he/she resigns in a huff over something another one has to find him/her a place within two years.
There is a sort of halfway house. Sometimes very senior lecturers are called Readers which is sort of saying they would be a Professor if they'd found a slot.
Don: An informal term for fellows and lecturers and tutors in but more in I think. I think the term Don is rather an old term that is fading away a bit - I think of it more as 19th Century and Oxford.
The business with principal vs provost vs master vs president: It just depends on what the college chooses to call it.
Definitions compiled by Ben Bolker: http://www.zoo.ufl.edu/bolker/vocab/node13.html
1, 2.1, 2.2, 3 - University results: a first is excellent (e.g. summa cum laude - top 5" pass" is next.
A-level - exams at the end of high schools, generally taken by sixth formers O-level exams at age 16
GCSE - general secondary-school exams: replace 0-levels + CSE
PGCE - teacher training course
bop - a student disco/dance
bedder - cleaner (Cambridge: "scout" at Oxford)
buttery - canteen cafeteria
college/University/polytechnic - this one is tricky. If you don't go on to higher education at all, "college" means University - but "college" can also mean a polytechnic (less prestigious than a University, although they've now been renamed). Or it can mean a college at Oxbridge, the most prestigious
comprehensive school - a general school for 11-16 year olds (high school)
course - can mean a class, but can also mean a course of study (degree course)
fresher - first-year student
grammar school - a good, but public (US sense) school for 11-16 year olds (you have to sit an exam to get in)
invigilate - proctor an exam, or supervise a library etc.
lecturer - a University faculty member - professor means something else (q.v.): there are also "readers" at Oxbridge, which is a little higher (?) than a lecturer
marks - grades
maths - mathematics
NatSci, CompSci, mathmo ... - (Camb.) (pron. "natsky", "compsky") natural science student; computer science ditto; mathematics student
Oxbridge - Oxford and/or Cambridge
porter - (Oxbr.) A college employee, something more than a custodian: A college employee, something more than a custodian: responsible for groundskeeping, keeping undergraduates in line, frightening away tourists, etc. The Porter's Lodge is something like the front office of the college.
postgrad - grad. student
professor - an exalted title: equiv. to an endowed chair or head of Department
public school - a posh private school (Eton, Harlow, etc.)
results - exam grades
revise - to study for exams
sit (an exam) - to take an exam
sixth form - the last two years of secondary school ("lower sixth/upper sixth"): only for people going to University: sometimes done at a 6th-form college
squash (2) - (Camb.) a student society initial meeting/social
supervision - (Camb.) tutorial, "section"
swot - to study, a grind
sprog - (derogatory) undergraduate, youngster