students at a college
Students at a college.
(Credit: Ian Wallman)

Should they apply and if so, how?

There are nearly 12,000 undergraduate students at Oxford, with an amazing range of backgrounds and interests. They come from all types of school 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. The University is already attracting more black and minority ethnic students than ever before (nearly 24% of our 2021 UK undergraduate intake).

By 2023, we are aiming for 25% of places to go to Oxford undergraduates from UK backgrounds that are currently under-represented here. That’s why we have set up two exciting new access programmes called Opportunity Oxford and Foundation Oxford.

Taking part in our UNIQ programme for UK state school students is already 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 state schools 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 more and more different backgrounds.

Getting a place at Oxford is a big achievement. On average, over 22,000 people apply for around 3,250 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 16 October 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.