Oxford University has offered more places to British school-leaving women than men for its undergraduate courses for the first time in its history.
According to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), in the last admissions cycle, 1,275 female UK-based 18 year-old and 1,165 male UK-based 18 year-old applicants were given offers. Of these, 1,070 and 1,025 respectively took up their places.
Among applicants from all age groups in the UK, women received more offers for undergraduate courses than men. The number of these applicants who took up their place, however, was split exactly with 1,275 women and men apiece.
A spokesperson for Oxford University welcomed the news, although cautiously, saying: “While it’s too early to call this a trend based on one year’s numbers, it is a welcome sign of progress for female applicants to Oxford”.
These statistics are the latest milestone in the story of women at the university. Oxford’s first women’s college, Lady Margaret Hall, was founded in 1878, followed by Somerville in 1879, and later by St Hugh’s, St Hilda’s, and St Anne’s. In 1920, women became members of the university and thus eligible to receive degrees, and in 1959 the five women’s colleges were granted full collegiate status.
In 1974, Brasenose, Hertford, Jesus, St. Catherine’s, and Wadham became the first all-male colleges to admit women, and by 2008 all colleges were co-educational. St Benet’s Hall, a Permanent Private Hall, admitted women as undergraduates in Michaelmas term 2016, becoming the last of Oxford’s constituent colleges and halls to do so.
Oxford currently has eleven female Heads of House: the Principals of Green Templeton College, Mansfield, St Anne’s, St Hugh’s, and Somerville, the Provost of Oriel, the Masters of Pembroke and St Cross, the Presidents of St John’s and Trinity, and the Acting President of Wolfson. In 2016, Professor Louise Richardson became the first woman to hold the position of Vice-Chancellor of the University.