Undergraduate Admissions Statistics - Notes and definitions

These notes accompany the University of Oxford’s Undergraduate Admissions Statistics.

The Data Source, Inclusions and Exclusions

The views are based on all the applications made through UCAS by the 15 October deadline in a given year. They can also contain a few late applications, in rare cases of extenuating circumstances.

Applications are for Undergraduate study only, and exclude those for Graduate Entry Medicine (UCAS course code A101).

The interactive Tableau reports contain data back to applications made in 2006.



ACORN is a postcode-based tool that categorises the UK’s population by level of socio-economic advantage. ACORN uses a range of data – such as accommodation type, household income, population density and lifestyle habits – to produce estimates of the characteristics of each individual household and postcode. Category 4 is described as ‘financially stretched’; category 5 as ‘urban adversity’. Both groups are characterised by lower-than-average household incomes. ACORN categories 4 and 5 represent around 15.9% of UK students achieving three A grades or better at A-level at UK universities. (First-year, first-degree, UK-domiciled undergraduate students, academic year 2017/18. Includes equivalent Scottish qualifications. See note on HESA data for full citation.)


‘Students admitted’ refers to students who have been made an offer of a place at Oxford, met any conditions of that offer, and indicated that they intend to take up their place.


‘Applications’ refers to students who submit a UCAS application by the 15 October deadline, for an undergraduate course at Oxford.

Applications by college

In tables that feature application numbers by college, the figures include those applicants who indicated a college of preference on their application, and anyone who made an open application who was then allocated to that college. Applicants considered by one college may still receive an offer from another college.


Oxford University is made up of over 30 colleges and halls. It is these colleges that admit undergraduate students to the University. All colleges have signed up to a Common Framework for Admissions which means the same application process for each course at every college. The colleges work together during the admissions process to ensure that the best applicants are successful, regardless of the college that initially considers their application. 

Most colleges offer most courses but the exact mix – and the number of places on each course – does vary between colleges. For more information about colleges, please see ox.ac.uk/ugcolls.


‘Courses’ refers to Oxford’s undergraduate degree programmes. Students apply for these courses through UCAS. Some of these courses are in single subjects (eg History or Geography), while others are joint courses combining two or more subjects (eg Mathematics and Computer Science). Most courses are three or four years long and lead to a BA Honours degree or a Master’s degree (eg MEarthSci or MMath). For more information, please see ox.ac.uk/courses.


Data in this report refer to disabilities that students have declared on their UCAS application. Students may also declare disabilities at later stages of the application process, or at any point during their course. For more information about the support available to disabled students, please see ox.ac.uk/disability.


Oxford uses various measures of disadvantage when considering applications, from various sources of available data. The main measures are:
• Educational disadvantage, which looks at the average performance of schools at GCSE and A-level.
• Socio-economic disadvantage, which looks at ACORN and POLAR data for the applicant’s home postcode.

Oxford is also aware of students who have been in care, based on information provided in the UCAS application. For more information please see ox.ac.uk/context.


A student’s domicile refers to their country of permanent residence, as provided on their UCAS application. This is not necessarily their nationality, but it is the country where they usually live. 

For example, ‘UK-domiciled students’ includes students with non-British nationality who are permanently resident in the UK (not just here for the purposes of education). It does not include UK students who live permanently outside the UK.


Ethnicity refers to the ethnic origin of UK students, as declared on the UCAS application. Our data includes only those applicants who have indicated their ethnicity, so it does not include those who choose not to say (5.0% of applicants in the three years 2021-2023). Ethnicity data is not available to universities during the admissions process: UCAS shares this data after all the admissions decisions have been made.


This report uses the binary female/male options from the UCAS application, which may not reflect the gender identity of all applicants. The University welcomes students who wish to take, or have taken, steps to change the gender identity they were assigned at birth, and those who do not identify with a permanent binary gender identity. For more information, please see https://edu.admin.ox.ac.uk/transgender.


Applications to Oxford are all considered together, and then shortlisted applicants are invited to interview. Around a third of those who are interviewed are then made an offer of a place. Most offers have conditions attached, such as achieving a particular set of grades at A-level, as specified for an applicant’s chosen course. ‘Offers’ in this report includes all those students who receive an offer. 

The number of offers for any particular college may be higher than their application numbers as students may be moved between colleges during the application process. This is to ensure that the best applicants are successful, regardless of the college that initially considers their application.

Open application

Applicants can indicate a college of preference when they complete their UCAS application or they can make an open application. Open applicants are then allocated to a college. After this allocation, colleges review all their applications in exactly the same way: they make no distinction between direct and open applicants.


POLAR is a postcode-based tool that measures how likely young people are to participate in higher education based on where they live. POLAR quintiles are calculated by dividing the number of young people in local areas who enter higher education aged 18 or 19 by the overall young population in those areas. POLAR quintiles 1 and 2 represent around 17.1% of UK students achieving three A grades or better at A-level at UK universities. (First-year, first-degree, UK-domiciled undergraduate students, academic year 2017/18. Includes equivalent Scottish qualifications. See note on HESA data for full citation.) The POLAR classification is continuously developed and updated. 2020 and 2021 data in this report are from POLAR4. Previous years' data are from POLAR3.

School type

Data on school type use the standard UCAS school type categories, as declared by schools and colleges. These school types are grouped as follows:

School groupSchool sub-groupNotes
 FE Institutions
Tertiary colleges and all types of further education colleges
 Sixth Form College 
 Other Maintained
Other Secondary Schools, Special Schools and City Technology Colleges.

Those applicants who applied online through UCAS without applying via a UCAS apply base (usually their school or college), or those where their apply base’s school type is unknown.
 Other UK Institutions

Mainly comprises Language Schools and HE Institutions, but also includes a few other UK institutions that are not classified as either State or Independent.
 Overseas schools 

UCAS Cycle

When tables or text in this report refer to an individual year, that year relates to a UCAS ‘cycle’. For example, data labelled ‘2023’ refers to the UCAS cycle in which applications to Oxford were made by 15 October 2022, mostly for entry in October 2023 (a minority of applicants in this cycle will have deferred entry to October 2024).

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