Annual access report released: ‘the pace is slow, but the trajectory is clear’

  • London and South East are still the areas with the highest level of Oxford admissions
  • Computer Science admitted the highest percentage of state school students with Classics coming out the lowest
  • Mansfield admitted more state school students and students from economically disadvantaged areas than any other college
  • 9.8% of women in Computer Science while 79.3% in Experimental Psychology

The Annual Admissions Statistical Report, published today, revealed the latest access statistics of Oxford University, analysing student applications by region, race, academic achievement, disability and gender. It is the second year that the report is published in an effort by the University to become more transparent with regard to its admissions process and access.

The overall trend reveals gradual improvement across most access categories, albeit with variations across courses and colleges.

In a foreword to the report, Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Louise Richardson, stated: “It was precisely because of our concern that the pace of change was too slow that this year we are increasing the size of our flagship summer programme, UNIQ, by 50% to 1,375 school pupils.

“We also announced the creation of two new programmes, Opportunity Oxford and Foundation Oxford, which we believe will significantly accelerate the pace of change.”

Lucas Bertholdi-Saad, VP Access and Academic Affairs for the SU said: “It is a major positive step that the University is continuing to release annual admissions data. The figures themselves show an incremental improvement – which is welcome, though still not at the pace we would like to see. Oxford SU has campaigned hard over the past 18 months to see tangible work be done to improve these figures and the future plans around the two major initiatives will go a long way to bring around a sea change.”

The findings of the Report, by access area, is as follows:


The number of BME students has risen, from 13.6% in 2014 to 18.3% in 2018. This matches the number of BME population of England and Wales aged 18-25, which makes up exactly 18.3% of that population. This contrasts with the intake of all UK universities, which admitted 25.6% BME students on average.

Students with Black African or Black Caribbean heritage as well as Bangladeshi and Pakistani students present the smallest proportion of BME students admitted, although their numbers have been very slowly increasing. The proportion of students admitted who are black African or black Caribbean has increased from 1.1% in 2014 to 2.6% in 2018. This compares the proportion of black Africans and black Caribbeans making up the total England and Wales population, estimated at 3% for 2018 (Index Mundi). Similarly, the proportion of students admitted who are Bangladeshi or Pakistani has increased from 0.8% in 2014 to 1.6% in 2018, compared to 2.8% of the English and Welsh population in 2018.

A number of courses admitted zero UK-domiciled black African and black Caribbean students from 2016 to 2018. These include Biological Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Earth Sciences, and PPL. PPL also admitted zero Asian students over the same period. This appears to be correlated with a low level of applications from these groups, with black African and black Caribbean students accounting for just eight applications to Biological Sciences, nine to Biomedical Science, and three to PPL over that period.

Over the three years 2016-2018, Brasenose admitted just one black UK-domiciled student. This is despite having a higher number of applications from black students than most colleges. Exeter also admitted only one black student in the same period.

LMH admitted by far the largest number of black students over the period, at 10. In total, black students made up 1.9% of UK students admitted to Oxford from 2016 to 2018.

School type

The Report compared state school students, which includes those from comprehensives, grammars, and academies, with independent schools, which includes private schools.

The proportion of students admitted from state schools rose to a record 60.5%, with the proportion of offers going to state school students also up to 64.5%. In total, 981 of admitted students were from independent schools and 1,502 were from state schools.

UK state students apply disproportionately for the most oversubscribed subjects. On average, 37% of state applications between 2016 and 2018 were for five of the most oversubscribed subjects at Oxford: Economics & Management, Medicine, PPE, Law, and Mathematics, compared with 31% of independent applications.

By contrast, 20% of independent applications were for five of the least oversubscribed subjects (Classics, Music, Modern Languages, Chemistry, and English), compared with 14% of state applications for a period from 2016 to 2018. The college with the lowest proportion of state school students was Trinity, admitting 48.3% while Mansfield had the highest proportion 90.1% (3 year total).

Across different courses, Maths & Computer Science came out top in its state school student intake, admitting 76.8% state school students. The course with the lowest proportion of state school students is Classics, with just 29.2% of admitted students coming from state schools.


London and the South East made up 47.2% of UK applications between 2016 and 2018, with 48.7% of these being admitted. The lowest admissions by region had been from Northern Ireland and North East, with just 1% and 2% of applications coming from these areas, respectively. This largely correlates with A-Level achievement in the said regions, with the number of students getting AAA or above in their A-Levels being highest in the South East and London (6,735 and 6,455 students respectively) and the lowest in North East and NI (910 and 1,550).

Socio-Economic Background

In 2018, 13.1% of UK students admitted to Oxford were from the two groups with lowest progression to higher education, an increase of nearly 3% from 2014.

Comparably, 11.3% came from the two most socioeconomically disadvantaged groups, an increase of 2% from 2014.

In terms of admittance to different courses, Biomedical Sciences and Computer Science came out top in admitting students from areas with low progression to higher education, with 19.8% and 19.5% respectively. The course with the lowest intake from such groups was Geography with 6.8%.

When it came to admitting students from socioeconomically disadvantaged areas, Computer Science came out top with 19.5%, but the course with lowest intake of students from was music with 4.7%.

The highest intake had been in Mansfield with 15.9% of UK students admitted to Oxford coming from socioeconomically disadvantaged areas. The lowest in the category was St. Edmund Hall with 6.8%. When the measurement of low progression to higher education was used, Mansfield still came out on top, admitting 20.3% from areas of low progression to higher education while Pembroke (7.1%), Magdalen (8.7%) and Christ Church (8.7%) admitted the least.


For the second year running, women outnumbered men in admissions, at 51.2% of the intake, representing 42 more female students than last year. Computer Science had the lowest percentage of female students across the last three years, at just 9.8%, while Experimental Psychology had the highest percentage of female students over the same period, at 79.3%.

Balliol college had the lowest percentage of female students admitted (38.7%) while LMH had the highest percentage of female students admitted (57.9%).



Sign up for the newsletter!

Want to contribute? Join our contributors’ group here or email us – click here for contact details