Oxford’s first ever Annual Admissions Statistical Report has shed light on widespread underrepresentation amongst its student body.
The report, published on Wednesday, details Oxford admissions statistics over a five-year period from 2013 to 2017. Data is examined with regard to several areas: overall numbers, domicile, nation and region, disadvantage, school type, gender, ethnicity and disability.
In the foreword to the report, Vice-Chancellor Louise Richardson called the findings “a picture of progress on a great many fronts, but with work remaining to be done.”
The report shows that state school students made up 58.2% of the 2017 intake – the highest figure on record. However, this figure remains lower than the 72.6% of state school students achieving AAA or better at A-level across all UK universities. Mansfield College led the way in terms of its overall proportion of state-educated students, which was 88.2% over the 2015-17 period. Trinity fared the worst, with just 44.1%.
The statistics relating to black and minority ethnic (BME) students have been subject to particular criticism. Overall, the proportion of BME students admitted in 2017 to Oxford rose to 17.9%, up from 13.9% in 2013. Nonetheless, the data shows that BME students are considerably more disadvantaged with regard to admissions. Balliol, Magdalen and University each admitted just two BME undergraduates from 2015 to 2017 despite receiving dozens of applications from BME students. In terms of overall proportion, 20.3% of Keble’s intake between 2015 and 2017 were BME students, whilst at St Edmund Hall the figure was a mere 10.8%.
The figures also showed that a mere 10.4% of the 2017 intake came from the two most socioeconomically disadvantaged areas. Additionally, 87.1% of students admitted came from areas with greater likelihood of progression to further education.
Reaction to the report has been generally critical. Target Schools, Oxford SU’s access campaign, released a statement drawing particular attention to the fact that “students from independent schools are 33% more likely to be offered a place at the University of Oxford.” It said that in general, the statistics “demonstrate a deep-rooted inequality in admissions of state-school and BAME students.” An open letter signed by 22 JCR and SU Presidents noted that its signatories were “heavily disappointed”.
MP David Lammy found himself embroiled in a row with the university after Oxford’s official Twitter account retweeted a post calling his criticism of the report “bitter”. Lammy responded to the report’s publication by calling Oxford “a bastion of entrenched, wealthy, upper class, white, southern privilege.” Ceri Thomas, Oxford’s director of public affairs, was forced to apologise to Lammy and agreed that “Oxford needs to do more” to address the report’s findings.