Increasing access | University of Oxford
UNIQ session in Wytham Woods
UNIQ session in Wytham Woods
Credit: Rob Judges. Find out more about UNIQ Summer Schools here

Increasing access

Oxford wants the best students, from every kind of background.

The University is committed to ensuring that our undergraduate admissions processes identify students with outstanding academic potential and the ability to benefit from an Oxford course whatever their background, as outlined in the University’s Strategic Plan.

The University of Oxford undertakes a wide range of activities to inform, attract, and support the most able candidates from all socio-economic, cultural and geographical backgrounds. We know that our main challenges lie in encouraging students from under-represented groups to apply to Oxford and in helping them to make competitive applications. As a result our outreach activity has become increasingly targeted at those groups that are under-represented in higher education in general and the University of Oxford in particular.

These include:

  • students living in neighbourhoods where there is low-participation higher education (POLAR); 
  • those living in areas of socio-economic disadvantage (ACORN); 
  • schools with little history of successful Oxford applications; 
  • under-represented ethnic minority groups (African, Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi); 
  • first-generation HE participants; 
  • women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects
  • white working class boys and girls
  • rural and coastal locations with a history of low progression to higher education

The University has access targets which relate to some of these groups and form part of the access agreement between the University of Oxford and the Office for Fair Access (OFFA). Our OFFA Targets for 2010-11 to 2016-17:

Target 1: to increase the percentage of UK undergraduate students to 25% by 2016-17 at Oxford from schools and colleges that historically have had limited progression to Oxford.
Target 2: to increase the percentage from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds (ACORN postcodes 4 and 5) to 9% by 2016-17.
Target 3: to increase the percentage from neighbourhoods with low participation in higher education (Participation of Local Areas (POLAR) postcodes 1 and 2) to 13% by 2016-17.
Target 4: to meet the HEFCE benchmark on UK undergraduate students at Oxford with declared disabilities or specific learning differences.

These targets are updated annually. Targets planned for 2017-20 include reference to working with regional partnership organisations (IntoUniversity) to ensure that at least 55% of students working with the Oxford South-East IntoUniversity centre progress to higher education in 2019-20.

Engaging with black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) communities that are under-represented in higher education is a growing priority for the University but there are no plans to create a separate OFFA target relating to BAME students. This is because some BAME groups have markedly higher levels of participation than others, making it difficult to establish an overarching target. Oxford is working in partnership with Target Oxbridge and Future Leaders, two organisations which inspire, support and champion students from BAME communities, in particular those from African and Caribbean backgrounds who have low rate of participation in HE to help support students - through a sustained programme of conferences, mentoring and residentials - and encourage them to apply to the University.

More information on our Access Agreements.

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