Oxford expands digital outreach in lockdown to build on admissions progress | University of Oxford
Girl studying online. Image credit: Shutterstock
UNIQ, Oxford University's flagship state school access programme will run exclusively online this year as a result of the pandemic Image credit: Shutterstock

Oxford expands digital outreach in lockdown to build on admissions progress

Oxford University today publishes its third annual Undergraduate Admissions Report, revealing steady progress towards a more inclusive student body.

Today’s data shows that over the last five years the number of state educated students has increased from 55.6% to 62.3%. Admissions of students from the most deprived areas of the UK have increased from 8.6% to 12.2%. The number of British students of Black and Ethnic Minority backgrounds has risen from 14.5% to 22.1%, with the proportion of Black students up from 2.6% in 2018 to 3.1% in 2019.

In this year’s report, detailed figures are given for undergraduate entry over the past five years, broken down by region, race, socio-economic background, gender and disability. There are also figures for every Oxford college and academic department.

Key points from the 2020 report include:

  •  Applying to Oxford is more competitive than ever, with 23,020 students applying for 3,300 places
  •  The proportion of students from state schools is now 62.3% of all UK students – at a record high after rising for the last four years
  •  The proportion of students of Black and Ethnic Minority stands at 22.1% of all students - up from 18.3% last year
  •  The proportion of Black students of Afro Caribbean and African heritage is now 3.2% of all student admissions, compared to 2.6% last year
  •  The proportion of Asian student admissions is also growing year on year, at 9.6% of all students admitted
  •  The proportion of Bangladeshi Pakistani students has also grown to 2.1% of the undergraduate student body, from 1.6% last year
  •  9.4% of Oxford students admitted this year declared a disability – up from 6.9%
  •  For the third year in a row, female students outnumber male students, at 54.9% of the undergraduate student body
The report comes as the University shares plans to counter the challenges resulting from the educational disruption of the pandemic, with greatly expanded online resources and initiatives for prospective students.

UNIQ, the University’s flagship state school access programme will run exclusively online this year, for the first time since its launch. In previous years, the initiative which supports 1,350 students annually, has been spread over two spring and summer week-long residential visits to Oxford.
 
UNIQ 2020 will run from 29 June to 29 July, with a total of 32 subjects running over five days over the course of this time. The programme will introduce participants to key elements of Oxford life, from academic activities such as tutorials and lectures to the social side, including college life, societies, wellbeing and fees and funding. Participants will also have the chance to virtually meet each other and current Oxford students who can share insights about Oxford life.
 
Oxford’s digital expansion also includes the University’s first virtual Open Day and an online Target Oxbridge 2020, the programme which helps Black and mixed students with Black heritage to succeed in their Oxford applications.
 
Samina Khan, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach at Oxford University said: ‘Expanding our digital resources has been a major priority for the University in recent weeks. ‘Many young people are in the process of making important decisions about their higher education future in the midst of a crisis, and I think it would be deeply unfair for talented students of all backgrounds to lose sight of their ambitions because of the education disruption caused during this time. Particularly those experiencing socio-economic disadvantage.
 
‘We want to support these students wherever possible and we hope our online resources arm them with the details they need to make an informed decision around whether Oxford is the right choice for them and make competitive applications for entry.’
 
The University last year announced the creation of two new major access programmes; Opportunity Oxford and Foundation Oxford, which are intended to significantly accelerate the pace of change. The Opportunity Oxford study programme is for students who have applied to the University under the normal process, are on course to gain the grades required, but need additional support to transition successfully from school to Oxford. The scheme comprises a structured study at home programme, plus a two week residential experience at Oxford. The first Opportunity Oxford cohort of 116 students is due to be welcomed in September – grades permitting. The University still awaits government guidelines on whether the residential part of the programme can go ahead under post-lockdown social distancing. Under these circumstances the programme will be moved online, though the University is hopeful that with social distancing measures in place, this will not be an issue.
 
Professor Louise Richardson, Vice Chancellor of Oxford University, said: ‘The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the deep education inequalities in our society. We are acutely conscious of its differential impact both on our current students and on those considering applying to Oxford. We have moved our UNIQ programme online in an effort to support those pupils who aspire to apply to Oxford and other highly selective universities.
 
‘Notwithstanding the major challenge of adapting to the constraints posed by the pandemic we fully intend to continue our progress towards ensuring that every talented, academically driven pupil in the country, wherever they come from, sees Oxford as a place for them.’