Oxford skyline
The Oxford skyline including Sheldonian Theatre.

Image credit: Oxford University/Rob Judges

University statement on 2020 admissions

University of Oxford statement on 2020 undergraduate admissions and A-level results

The University has the greatest admiration and sympathy for all of this year’s A-level students who have faced additional pressure and uncertainty because of the coronavirus pandemic. We congratulate the many students who were awarded grades that meet their University offer, despite these challenging circumstances. We also understand the disappointment of Oxford applicants who have received results which do not meet their offers.

Against this background, the University and colleges have been proactive in considering applicants who didn’t make their grades this year, focusing strongly on those in disadvantaged circumstances. As a result, over half of students who missed their offers have now been admitted. In particular, we have considered carefully and been more lenient with students from UK state schools who missed their offer; overwhelmingly these students are from disadvantaged backgrounds or have mitigating circumstances.

Oxford does not make decisions based on grades alone, and selecting the most academically able candidates, particularly those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, is crucial to the University’s standards of inclusion and academic excellence. We are determined to work through the challenges imposed on us by this year’s circumstances and to select fairly those students of greatest potential who will thrive in their studies here. Our advice to students who feel there are reasons for their application to be reconsidered is to get in touch with their school and the college who made them an offer as soon as possible.

Despite the issues caused by the A-level moderation process, we are on course to admit our highest ever proportion of state school students and to exceed the access targets we have set ourselves.

We made about 3,900 offers in January for an expected 3,287 places at Oxford, before the lockdown in the UK, and have currently made 3,440 offers, well above the numbers we admit in a normal year. Of these, about 284 are for UK state school candidates who have missed their grades, meaning that our UK state school intake currently stands at 67.8% - an increase of 5.7 percentage points compared to 2019.

We have also made a 6 percentage points increase in places to students from the most socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds and 2.3 percentage points increase to those from areas least likely to go to university. We will also be providing students with extra study skills support when they arrive this year.

As we do every year when grades are remarked, some students may be offered a deferred place. Once we reach our maximum intake of undergraduates in 2020, we will have to defer entry to 2021 for any additional candidates who appeal successfully and whose place is then confirmed. Our primary concern must be the health and safety of our students, staff and community and it will not otherwise be possible for us to meet ongoing social-distancing restrictions and other challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The University already has detailed plans for students’ arrival to ensure they have a safe and successful year ahead, regardless of their background, personal circumstances, or how they have been directly affected by the pandemic. In all circumstances, the University’s first priority is the health and welfare of our students and staff.