Students at a college.
(Credit: Ian Wallman)

Should they apply and if so, how?

There are over 11,000 undergraduate students at Oxford, with an amazing range of backgrounds and interests. They come from all types of schools and from all over the world. What they share is a love of learning and a talent for studying.

Will they be welcome at Oxford?

We want everyone to feel welcomed, valued and respected here.

At the moment we know that some talented students don’t think Oxford is for them and we want that to change. We want them to realise that Oxford is a realistic goal for anyone with academic talent and commitment.

It is really important that people from all sorts of backgrounds study with us – this is what helps to make Oxford one of the most exciting places to learn in the world.

Does it matter where my child goes to school?

We are always looking for students with the greatest talent for studying, whatever their background.

We understand that it is more difficult for some students to achieve the highest grades because of their circumstances. That is why we look at lots of different information when we consider applications.

We want to make sure we understand students’ achievements in the context of their individual experiences

How is Oxford changing?

Some groups are still under-represented here, but this is changing. 

Between 2018 and 2022, within the total group of UK-domiciled undergraduates admitted:

  • The proportion from state schools rose from 60.5% to 68.1%.
  • The proportion identifying as Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) rose from 18.3% to 27.8%.
  • The proportion from socio-economically disadvantaged areas rose from 11.3% to 15.5%.
  • The proportion from areas of low progression to higher education rose from 13.1% to 16.6%.
  • The proportion declaring a disability rose from 9.3% to 12.8%.
  • The proportion of women rose from 51.2% to 53.1%.

As part of our commitment to change, we have set up two exciting new access programmes called Opportunity Oxford and Astrophoria Foundation Oxford. In 2022, 188 students participated in Opportunity Oxford, a programme that helps prepare talented UK offer-holders from under-represented backgrounds for successful student careers. In 2023, the first offers were made to 35 UK state school students for the Astrophoria Foundation Year, a year-long foundation course for UK state school students who have high academic potential but have experienced severe personal disadvantage or a disrupted education.

In 2022, almost 1,500 Year 12 UK state school students and from backgrounds under-represented at Oxford joined our flagship UNIQ programme. This programme is known to be likely to increase someone’s chance of getting a place to study here.

Our collaboration with Target Oxbridge aims to support black African and Caribbean students and students of mixed race with black African and Caribbean heritage in making strong applications to Oxford.

Alongside these programmes, we run thousands of outreach activities with UK state school students from backgrounds under-represented at Oxford, and their teachers and communities, every year and across the country.

We want to make sure that anyone anywhere can find out what student life at Oxford might be like and how to apply.

All of this is already making a big difference and our students are coming from an increasingly wide range of backgrounds.

Getting a place at Oxford is a big achievement. On average, over 23,000 apply for around 3,300 places. That is why the process of applying to Oxford is a bit more complicated than at most other universities.

We want to find students who will be able to make the most of all that Oxford has to offer, who will be happy and will flourish here.

How is applying to Oxford different?

Applying to any UK university takes planning, but there are a few more steps to applying to Oxford:

  • Oxford applications are due in October, rather than January like many others.
  • Your child will apply through UCAS, just as for any other UK university.
  • Oxford applications often involve admissions tests. Students have to check to see if they need to sit a test, register for it by the deadline and practise using sample papers online.
  • Some of our courses need students to submit written work. Your child can find out if they will need to do this on our website.
  • Shortlisted candidates will be asked to attend an interview. This is an academic conversation with a potential tutor. You can find further information on our Interviews page.

All of these steps help us find the most talented applicants who will really enjoy the way students study here.

  • Top school grades are important so encourage your child to study subjects at school that they enjoy and are likely to do well.
  • Your child should choose a subject they will enjoy studying for three or more years. Encourage them to think carefully, and to consider subjects they haven’t studied before.
  • Suggest they start their UCAS application over the summer – the personal statement is likely to take much longer than they think!
  • If their course includes an admissions test, make sure they register for it by the registration  deadline. Students who practice for these tests tend to do better, so encourage your child to read our advice and have a go at the test papers on our website.

There is more detail on the application process in our guide for applicants.