Some of WA's brightest students are turning down lucrative scholarships from Australian universities in favour of the tradition and prestige offered by Britain's oldest institutions.
Just being short-listed for Oxford or Cambridge is an achievement in itself and getting through the intense selection process is even harder.
The universities are renowned for throwing curly interview questions at prospective students, such as "would you rather be an apple or a banana"?
Former Perth Modern School student Maria Lucey, 17, has been offered a place at Cambridge University to study natural sciences. She leapt at the chance after giving up a scholarship to Melbourne University.
"You never really fathom that you'd get into somewhere like that," she said. "I didn't really think I had a chance of getting in, especially after the interview."
She said tutors asked technical questions from areas she had not studied so she had to apply what she did know to answer.
Former St Mary's Anglican Girls' School student Annika Powers, 16, won a place at Oxford University, where she will study philosophy, politics and economics.
The Woodlands student is a year younger than most leavers because she skipped Year 7.
Attracted by Oxford's tradition of scholarship and research, she also thought she had no chance of being offered a place after the interviews. "The tutors were very intimidating," she said.