Current Affairs

Five key takeaways from Oxford University’s 2020 Admissions Report

The University of Oxford has published its Annual Admissions Statistical Report, which shows – among other findings – that the proportion of state school students admitted to the university has risen from 55.6% to 62.3% over the last 5 years.

The publication of the data was delayed in light of “world events” earlier this month. The report, which can now be read in full here, indicates some progress in a number of areas when it comes to Oxford’s admissions reflecting the social makeup of the country.

Some discrepancies may, however, be found in the data – for example, statistics are dependent on an applicant declaring their ethnicity or disability status in their UCAS application. Population statistics are based on the last UK census in 2011.

Here are five things you should know about the findings of Oxford’s latest admission report.

1. More state school students are getting offers

In the 2019 cycle, 62.3% of offers were made to state school students, compared to 55.6% in 2015.

The report also finds that just 28.6% of UK students admitted to study Classics between 2017 and 2019 were from state schools, compared to 80.4% in Mathematics and Computer Science. Furthermore, state school students are more likely to apply for oversubscribed subjects: 38% of state-school applications were for Economics & Management, Medicine, Law, PPE and Mathematics – the five most oversubscribed subjects.

The college with the highest proportion of state school admissions between 2017 and 2019 was Mansfield (94.0%). By contrast, in the same period, just over half of students admitted to Christ Church were from state schools.

2. More women than men get admitted to Oxford

Women made up 54.4% of Oxford’s UK intake in 2019, the university having admitted more female than male students since 2017. Between 2017 and 2019, just 14.0% of Mathematics and Computer Science admittances, however, were women – compared to 77.3% for Biomedical Sciences. These statistics are based on the binary ‘male’ and ‘female’ options on the UCAS application “which may not reflect the gender identity of all applicants”.

3. Representation of BME students is improving

Analysis reveals that over 1 in 5 Oxford students are now of BME heritage – up from 14.5% in 2015. Although 26.2% of students admitted to UK universities in 2017 were BME, Oxford’s figure of 22.1% in 2019 means that the representation of BME young people at Oxford exceeds the national proportion of 18.3% (in England and Wales).  However, this figure excludes students who do not declare their ethnicity.

Students of Black African or Black Caribbean heritage are found to be more likely to apply for the most competitive subjects; between 2017 and 2019, 37.4% of applications from those backgrounds were for Medicine and Law alone, while 27.2% of all UK BME applications were also for those two subjects. Of Oxford’s twenty five largest courses, BME students were best represented in Medicine (36.0%) and least represented in Biomedical Sciences (10.5%). Almost 47% of applications from UK Asian students were for Medicine, Law, Economics & Management or Mathematics.

The report also reveals that nearly 27% of students admitted to Mansfield College between 2017 and 2019 were BME, compared to just 13.8% at Worcester.

4. There are more students being admitted from disadvantaged areas and backgrounds

The percentage of students admitted from the most deprived areas of the country has risen from 8.6% to 12.2%. In addition, 14% of UK students admitted to Oxford in 2019 came from the two social groups with the lowest overall progression to higher education – POLAR 1 and 2. Between 2017 and 2019, UK students from disadvantaged areas made up anywhere between 5.8% and 19.2% of admittances to the university’s 25 biggest courses. 7.2% of 2019 admittances to Lincoln and Exeter were from disadvantaged areas, rising to 19.6% for Mansfield.

5. London and the South East make up nearly half of admittances

47.4% of offers between 2017 and 2019 were made to students from Greater London and the South East, with 49.0% of students admitted coming from those regions alone. In that period, just 162 students from the North East of England were admitted. The report finds that the number of students admitted from Greater London rose from 615 in 2015 to 722 in 2019, while admissions from the South East fell from 614 to 542 in the same period.

Other important takeaways from the 2020 Report

  • The overall admittance rate in 2019 was 14.2%
  • The overall number of applications has risen by 25% since 2015, but there has been a negligible increase in admissions
  • 9.4% of admitted students declared a disability in 2019, compared to 6.9% in 2015
  • 78.8% of Oxford’s 2019 intake were UK students, compared to 83.9% across UK universities in 2017
  • The largest number of overseas applications are from the People’s Republic of China

Following the university’s announcement last year that the UNIQ Summer School would increase its capacity by 50%, the report confirms that the Opportunity Oxford and Foundation Oxford programmes will commence in September and next year respectively.

In the report’s foreword, Vice Chancellor Louise Richardson writes that the university is considering the “deep education inequalities in our society” revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oliver Shaw

Oliver (he/him) is the Senior Current Affairs Editor at The Oxford Blue for the summer vacation and Michaelmas 2020. Oliver lives in Warwickshire and is entering his final year studying History at Merton College.