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 Outdated stereotypes can put off candidates from choosing a university they would enjoy and which would give them fantastic opportunities for the future.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 recently launched pioneering initiatives to improve access to graduate study.

Work is already taking place, including by a cross-institutional Graduate Access Working Group, to consider graduate widening participation and to build on current pilots of needs-based approaches and schemes to encourage and support underrepresented groups (for example the DeepMind Scholarships).

In 2019 we launched our sector-leading UNIQ+ programme, a paid research internship programme for students from under-represented backgrounds who might not otherwise consider postgraduate study at Oxford. The programme offers students the opportunity to experience graduate study at Oxford, and receive a range of skills training and information sessions.

After positive feedback on the pilot, for 2020 the pilot has expanded into most Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences and Medical Sciences subject areas and into a small number of departments/faculties in Humanities and Social Sciences. You can find out more about Uniq+ and similar programmes on our graduate access programmes pages

The University’s application fee waiver scheme was introduced in 2018 for prospective students from low-income countries. The scheme is expanding for 2021-22 entry onwards to UK applicants who received high levels of mean-tested financial support in their undergraduate degree.

We’re also developing a new matched fundraising scheme to increase the number of graduate scholarships available at Oxford, as part of our commitment to create 300 additional graduate scholarships by 2023.