Oxford skyline, wide angle
A view of the Oxford skyline

Credit: Greg Smolonski

2021 A-Level results: Oxford University response

Oxford University is delighted to celebrate the success of our offer-holders, whose places have been confirmed today. Their achievement is all the more impressive this year, and we congratulate them and their teachers, schools and families, after a hugely challenging 18 months.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic and resulting widespread disruption to education, the University and its colleges have worked closely with individuals and schools to minimise the impact on prospective students. We have worked to ensure they have all the information and guidance needed to make strong applications.

Despite the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on school pupils from less advantaged backgrounds, last year’s new undergraduate intake to Oxford showed the first signs of this work paying off, as the University accelerated the trend of an increasing number of places going to students from UK state schools. While admissions results under current circumstances cannot be compared meaningfully to previous years, our aim for 2021 has again been to secure an undergraduate intake that continues to reflect our priorities and builds on the progress of recent years. More detailed data will be available in due course, but the figures released today show a continuation of the positive trends of recent years.

In January 3,543 offers were made for undergraduate places, which was 8% lower than an average year. Following confirmation of A-Level results, the University is now expecting to admit around 3,265 highly-talented students this October. This is in line with average acceptances in normal years. All accepted students expecting to start in 2021 will be able to do so, with no student required to defer the start of their course.

We are delighted that under uniquely challenging circumstances, we have maintained the progress made on access in recent years. With some results still pending, 68% of the UK undergraduate intake will be from state schools and 20% from the least advantaged backgrounds. Of those admitted this year, around 57 state school students narrowly missed their offer, but had experienced significant extenuating circumstances.

Our work during the pandemic has included moving Open Days and our flagship outreach programmes online. More than 35,000 people have participated in our online Open Days, while last summer saw 1187 Year 12 students from less advantaged backgrounds attend our UNIQ Digital access programme, spanning 30 academic courses. 80 Oxford applicants participated in the Target Oxbridge digital scheme to support African and Caribbean heritage students and regional programmes such as Aim for Oxford for disadvantaged students in North East England also transferred to an online format.

Preparations are now well underway for the 2022 admissions round with the deadline for submission of applications to Oxford being 15th October 2021.

We moved our interviews online in December 2020 and ensured that all shortlisted candidates had access to the technology needed to participate in their interviews. This included purchasing and distributing tablet computers where necessary. Interviews for the 2021–22 academic year will also take place online and the date of the last online Open Day this year is 17th September.

The University, its colleges and departments, consistently adjust access and outreach work to optimise the opportunities for the next generation of Oxford students. In the light of the pandemic, we are now working to help current offer-holders to prepare for their first year of University study. One aspect of this work has been to expand the online component of our Opportunity Oxford programme, so that 300 more offer-holders, whose education has been particularly affected by the pandemic, can feel more prepared for their studies and confident about starting at Oxford this autumn.

We congratulate all incoming students on their success and thank their teachers for their professionalism and hard work.