College choice

Oxford has 30 colleges that admit undergraduate students. They all admit both men and women. Most colleges offer most courses.

Applicants to Oxford do not need to name a college of preference but can choose to do so.

Colleges work co-operatively to try and ensure all applicants for a particular subject, across all colleges, can be compared against one another, in order that the very best people get Oxford places. As a result, around 27% of successful candidates for 2013 entry are at a college other than the college they named as their preference.

Acceptances by college choice, 2013 entry

 Total
Accepted by first choice college2,341
Accepted by college other than first choice857
TOTAL3,198
 

This redistribution process involves importing and exporting candidates between colleges. Any given college will ‘export’ a certain number of the candidates who named it as their preference to other colleges, and will ‘import’ candidates for consideration who named another college as their preference.

This capacity by colleges to share and consider a wide range of candidates helps ensure the best applicants across the University get places, regardless of whether the particular college they named as their preference was oversubscribed in that year.

The table below shows, for each college, the number of applicants naming that college as their preference; the number who go on to be accepted by that college; and the number who go on to be accepted by any Oxford college (either the ‘preferred’ college or, through the redistribution process, another college).

The table also gives a sense for each college of what proportion of its intake is ‘imported’ from other colleges.

From left to right, the columns show:

  1. Total number of applicants naming this college as their preference;
  2. The number of those applicants accepted to this college;
  3. The percentage of applicants naming this college as their preference who were accepted to this college (success rate for getting a place at this ‘preferred’ college);
  4. The number of applicants naming this college as their preference who were accepted to Oxford (either this college or another);
  5. The percentage of applicants naming this college as their preference who were accepted to Oxford (success rate for getting a place at Oxford). And:
  6. The number of candidates accepted by this college in total;
  7. The number of candidates accepted by this college who had originally named another college as their preference (‘imports’);
  8. The number of ‘imports’ expressed as a percentage of the college’s overall acceptances (ie what proportion of the college’s intake is ‘imported’).

These figures only show those applicants who named a college of preference (which is not essential – see ‘open applications’ below).

Three-year average, 2011 to 2013
CollegeNo. of applicants to this collegeNo. of those applicants accepted at this college% of applicants naming this college accepted at this collegeNo. of applicants to this college accepted at Oxford% of applicants naming this college accepted at OxfordTotal intake at this collegeNo. of imports% of total intake imported
Balliol College233329713%44719%3313410%
Brasenose College268329411%53820%313196%
Christ Church190726814%33818%3599125%
Corpus Christi College75714719%19125%1944724%
Exeter College160821613%29919%2705420%
Harris Manchester College3404714%5015%823543%
Hertford College157327417%35523%3457121%
Jesus College132121917%26420%2846523%
Keble College188529816%38721%3676919%
Lady Margaret Hall127421717%27121%32310633%
Lincoln College123220617%26722%2443816%
Magdalen College204730215%48123%330288%
Mansfield College5989716%10818%1858848%
Merton College142922216%32323%2472510%
New College182032918%44925%3643510%
Oriel College114118016%25122%2385824%
Pembroke College124620717%25621%2857827%
Somerville College59213923%15727%27013149%
St Anne's College114121118%23320%33112036%
St Catherine's College161323615%27417%36613036%
St Edmund Hall95616717%19220%29012342%
St Hilda's College4917816%8918%26318570%
St Hugh's College67914221%15823%29815652%
St John's College200628214%42621%3335115%
St Peter's College81413617%15619%26913349%
The Queen's College108418617%24022%2698331%
Trinity College159622814%31420%2542610%
University College174926615%33219%3205417%
Wadham College176029517%40023%3505516%
Worcester College269931912%58822%347288%
Permanent Private Halls1232117%2420%13711685%

The same information broken down by course choice is available in this interactive table.

Interpreting this information

Extreme caution is advised in attempting to draw conclusions about any given individual’s chances of success based on this information.

Variations by college in success rates (either in gaining a place at that college, or in gaining a place at Oxford) will be affected by:

  • The number of overall applicants to the college in any given year;

  • The course mix of applicants to the college in any given year (some courses are heavily oversubscribed, so colleges receiving lots of applications for those courses will show a lower success rate overall);

  • The strength of the individual candidates applying to the college (if in any given year a college has a large number of very strong candidates, the success rate for getting into that college is likely to be low but the success rate for being ‘exported’ and getting into another college is likely to be high);

  • The number of strong candidates being imported from other colleges (if in any given year other colleges have large numbers of very strong candidates, the college may do more ‘importing’).

Open applications

Applicants to Oxford do not need to name a college of preference. They have the option of making an open application, and then a computer algorithm assigns them a nominal ‘college of preference’. When considering candidates, tutors do not know whether or not the candidates chose to name a college of preference.

A total of 3,057 candidates submitted open applications for entry 2013.  All colleges received some allocated candidates. The table below shows the number of open applications by course.

SubjectOpen applications
Economics and Management363
Philosophy, Politics and Economics330
Medicine317
Law270
Physics163
Engineering153
English Language and Literature124
Mathematics115
Chemistry101
History94
Other subjects1027
TOTAL3057