Education | University of Oxford
First-year undergraduate chemists in a 'Maths and Physics for Chemists' lecture given by Dr Nicholas Green.
First-year undergraduate chemists in a 'Maths and Physics for Chemists' lecture given by Dr Nicholas Green.
Copyright © Rob Judges Photography / Oxford University Images

Education

Commitment 4. To ensure that our undergraduate and graduate admissions processes identify students with outstanding academic potential and the ability to benefit from an Oxford course whatever their background.

25. We will build on the good evidence we already have that summer schools and teachers’ conferences encourage successful applicants from a diverse range of backgrounds, alongside exploring targeted programmes of mentoring and bridging provision. We will draw on our experience and evidence to make a co-ordinated contribution to the national widening participation agenda. We will seek evidence of the impact of the collegiate University’s financial support packages on our undergraduate access targets and use it to develop our work with potential university applicants, schools, and teachers.

26. Graduate students, at research and master’s level are fundamental to the provision of the next generation of leaders, innovators, academics, and public servants across the world. We will seek to shape the debate about the future of funding of postgraduate education in the UK.

27. We will build on our success in developing scholarship schemes such as the Moritz-Heyman undergraduate scholarship programme, the Mica and Ahmet Ertegun graduate scholarships in the Humanities, and the Clarendon Fund graduate scholarships, to generate further schemes at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Being able to offer full funding to our postgraduate taught and research students is strategically crucial if the University is to be able to compete internationally to secure the most able students. Colleges and divisions will work jointly to establish targets for the proportions of their intake at undergraduate and graduate level to be supported by bursaries and scholarships.

28. We will keep under review our undergraduate and graduate admissions processes to ensure equality of treatment for all applicants and the effectiveness and consistency of good practice. These reviews will encompass policy on attracting and identifying the best home and international students, and policy on continuing education and the admission of part-time students.

Commitment 5. To ensure that the best Oxford experience is the typical experience, for all undergraduate and postgraduate students, and that Oxford fully equips graduates for the best of the diverse range of opportunities for study and employment available to them.

29. The distinctiveness and excellence of Oxford’s teaching is recognised worldwide as deriving from a collegiate education system which supports students while challenging them to excel. The tutorial system is the cornerstone of this approach for undergraduates. We will ensure that senior academics provide general oversight of each undergraduate’s educational development as well as providing the majority of his or her college teaching. The principle of an individualised educational experience shaped through ongoing support from a senior academic also underpins our approach to postgraduate study. We believe that this approach enables students to learn to think critically and independently and is the most effective way to prepare graduates for the challenges of operating in our information rich society.

30. We will seek to ensure that teaching and assessment at Oxford provide an equal opportunity for all students to achieve and demonstrate their full academic potential. To inform this work, we will monitor the academic progress and outcomes amongst students from different backgrounds.

31. For postgraduate research students in some subject areas the opportunity to work within a research team or within a doctoral training centre provides a vital element of academic exchange and training. We provide a range of opportunities for all research students to broaden their skills in preparation for careers both within and outside academia. We will continue to enhance these opportunities, while also ensuring that students at all levels experience the intersection of research and teaching.

32. We will work in partnership with Oxford University Student Union (OUSU) to improve how we obtain and use feedback from undergraduates and postgraduates. We will also seek feedback from graduates reflecting on their full student experience and from alumni for the perspective they can contribute to the relationship between an Oxford course and a subsequent career.

33. As we enter the planning period at least 10% of our undergraduates and at least 6% of our graduates study or work abroad as part of their course. A quarter of our part-time graduates live and work abroad. It will be increasingly important for Oxford to build on this by expanding the number of international study opportunities to attract the best students and to enable graduates to be effective in their careers and as global citizens. We will expand summer opportunities for students, identify additional courses with potential for a study abroad element, and seek opportunities to expand study abroad for postgraduate research students.

34. We are committed to providing professional development training of the highest quality through Master’s and other programmes in identified areas and for key professions. We will also explicitly identify the professional and employability skills inherent in our courses, develop further opportunities for funded internships, and encourage students to engage with wider communities while still at Oxford.

35. The inclusion of our alumni in helping students achieve their potential will be vital. We will build productive long-term relationships between alumni and current students on the basis of mentoring, careers advice, internships, and recruitment.

Commitment 6. To ensure that the unique richness of the collegiate University’s academic environment is both retained and refreshed.

36. The success of Oxford as an academic community depends upon a broad spectrum of members of that community contributing to its educational mission through teaching. Those contributions, however, must always be organised so that there is clear oversight and ownership of the teaching of each student, whether undergraduate or postgraduate. Departments and colleges need to work together for the benefit of students to create coherent and effective methods of course delivery through an appropriate mix of tutorials, class teaching, lectures, and practical work. We will use information from our recent review of teaching to inform focused reconsideration of how teaching can be best delivered. Within this context a systematic and consistent approach to providing teaching opportunities for doctoral students and post-doctoral researchers, including assuring the quality of that provision, will be developed.

37. We believe that the size of the student population should be determined by the University’s capacity to provide a high-quality education to every student. The University will maintain its current policy of determining the number of students according to the quality of applicants and its ability to provide an excellent education for them. A joint review with divisions and colleges, commenced in 2012-13, will identify areas of excellence where expansion is sought and in particular where such expansion is necessary to maintain research standing. It will also determine the degree to which expansion in some areas may be achieved by contraction in others through re-balancing of the overall student population, and the measures that need to be put in place to ensure that any growth in any area is within resource constraints.

38. Student education is delivered in partnership not only between colleges and academic departments but also with library, laboratory, and other services. We will review our resourcing and provision to ensure that effective integration between key University and collegiate services such as Careers, Counselling, Admissions, and Disability Services enables consistently high levels of student support.

39. We believe that sporting and cultural provision contribute strongly to a rounded academic experience. We will continue to work to improve the facilities that the collegiate University offers its students in these areas.

40. Strengthening Oxford’s global and digital online presence, as signalled in our new priorities, will ensure students studying at Oxford have improved access to materials. We will develop a digital education strategy which builds on our expertise in online learning to communicate knowledge created within the University. This will benefit all students, whether studying full-time, part-time, or through the flexible courses offered by the Department for Continuing Education, as well as staff, alumni, and wider society.