Oxford Access | University of Oxford
students in a seminar
UNIQ students in a seminar
Credit: John Cairns

Oxford Access

Oxford’s students and staff come from every background imaginable. There are around 24,000 students from over 140 countries at Oxford, studying here as undergraduates and postgraduates. Their amazing range of stories and interests helps make Oxford one of the most exciting learning environments anywhere as well as one with extraordinary resources to offer its students.

Undergraduate access at Oxford

There is universal agreement that Oxford needs to make more rapid progress in diversifying its undergraduate student body. Diversity is important as a social good in its own right, and it is manifestly in Oxford’s self-interest – for the University to continue to thrive, we need to recruit the best people from all backgrounds. Greater diversity will strengthen the University’s intellectual vitality.

Some groups are still under-represented in our university and we want this to change. We want to attract potential from wherever it is found, and to be a magnet for talent regionally, nationally and internationally.

We know that some of the most talented students in schools in the UK think of Oxford as out of reach, and many people have an inaccurate view of who studies here, what it costs, and what it is like. Outdated stereotypes can put off candidates from choosing a university they would enjoy and which would give them fantastic opportunities for the future. If great candidates don’t apply, we’re missing out, and we think they’re missing out too.

We’ve been making enormous efforts to explain Oxford to those who may not have thought it was for them, to show what we offer, and to encourage high-achieving students to apply. More and more people from the groups we have been working to attract have been applying here, and many are now studying here. We continue to take a number of actions to increase the pace of change, most recently expanding the number of participants on our very successful UNIQ summer school and removing financial barriers to attending admissions interviews by offering travel expenses to those students most in need of support.

We are also reviewing further changes to our outreach programmes, admissions processes and financial support packages to ensure that any student who has the talent and commitment to succeed as an undergraduate at Oxford has the opportunity to do just that.

These pages tell you about some of our initiatives, the things we’ll be doing in the future, and the progress we’re making. If you’re a potential candidate, or know of one, why not find out more and look at ox.ac.uk/study

There’s much more detail on this in the Annual Admissions Statistical Report available at ox.ac.uk/adstats

The University has access targets which form part of the Access and Participation Plan between the University of Oxford and the Office for Students. Our Access and Participation Plan is available to download.

Graduate access at Oxford

The University is doing more than ever to increase the number of promising postgraduate students from under-represented groups at Oxford, and has introduced a number of pioneering initiatives to improve access to graduate study.

A cross-institutional Graduate Access Working Group has been established to improve access and widening participation into graduate study for disadvantaged and under-represented groups. Under the aegis of this Working Group, a substantial number of initiatives have been implemented in the last two to three years.

In 2019, we launched our UNIQ+ programme that provides paid research internships for prospective students who may find progressing to postgraduate study challenging for reasons other than their academic ability. The programme offers students the opportunity to experience graduate study at Oxford and receive a range of skills training and information sessions. In 2020, due to the covid-19 pandemic, we ran an alternative digital programme for those applicants who we might wish to encourage to apply to graduate study at Oxford or elsewhere in the future. UNIQ+ Digital provided an insight into research at PhD level and support and encouragement in preparing a competitive graduate application through a programme of mentoring, events and digital content.

We are operating an application fee waiver scheme for students from low-income countries (as defined by the World Bank) and for UK applicants from low income backgrounds who completed their undergraduate studies after January 2017. All UNIQ+ eligible applicants receive an application fee waiver if they decide to apply for graduate study at Oxford. The application fee waiver scheme will expand further for 2022-23 entry applying to a wider range of students.

Our Black Academic Futures Scholarships will offer up to ten UK Black and Mixed-Black students financial support to pursue graduate study at Oxford. The scholarship funding is also accompanied by a programme of support activities from pre-application to on-course.

We have also pulled together a number of other graduate funding opportunities for under-represented groups that have been launched by the University and colleges, and we are introducing a new Academic Futures matched fundraising scheme to increase the number of graduate scholarships available at Oxford for under-represented groups, as part of our commitment to create 300 additional graduate scholarships by 2023.

A pilot on the assessment procedure of graduate applications has been initiated with five courses to reduce unconscious bias and use contextual flags in the assessment of graduate applications.

You can explore all our current access initiatives, including Black Academic Futures and UNIQ+, on the Graduate Access webpages.