Image Credit: Mike Knell

State school admissions stagnate while EU applications plummet

Admissions data released by the University of Oxford has revealed that applications from EU students have fallen significantly over the last 5 years. Meanwhile, admissions from students outside the EU and those from socioeconomically disadvantaged or minority backgrounds have risen.

The University received 23,819 applications in 2022, down from a record high of 24,338 in 2021. The offer rate in 2022 was 15.3%, with over 3,600 students receiving an offer.

However, rates across courses vary significantly. From 2020-2022, there were 20.2 applicants per place for Computer Science, the course with the highest number of applicants per place. In contrast, Music had a little over 2 applicants per place in the same period of time.

The proportion of students admitted from state schools has stagnated at 68.1% in 2022, following from 68.2% in 2021, and 68.6% in 2020. Data indicating the proportion of offers to students in state schools in 2023 has yet to be released. However, the admissions rate for students in independent schools remains higher than that of students from state schools.

There is also a significant regional divide, with London and the South East making up 47.2% of applications between 2020-2022, and 47.6% of students admitted. The rest of the UK made up 52.8% of applications and 52.4% of students admitted.

Applications from EU students have plummeted since 2018, with a marked decline from 2,687 in 2018 to 1,787 in 2022. Non-EU applications, however, have risen significantly, from 5,816 to 7,463 in the same period. The highest number of overseas applications and admitted students was from the People’s Republic of China.

Meanwhile, applications from UK-domiciled BME students have risen substantially since 2018, reaching 4,610 from 3,097 in 2018. In 2022, they made up 27.8% of all UK students admitted to the University. This is higher than the Russell Group’s average of 26.8%, although slightly lower than that of all UK universities, which sits at 28.1%.

The number of UK students from socioeconomically disadvantaged groups and areas of low progression to higher education has also risen.

In 2022, 15.5% of UK students admitted to Oxford came from the most socioeconomically disadvantaged groups, an increase of 4.2% from 2018, while 16.6% of UK students admitted were from the groups with lowest progression to higher education, an increase of 3.5% from 2018. The number of students who were eligible for free school meals also increased 2% from 2021-2022, now at 7.3%. 

While three A grades is Oxford’s minimum standard offer for applicants taking A-levels, almost 91.2% of admitted students were awarded A*AA or better at A-level, with 60.8% of admitted students achieving three A* grades or better at A-level.

Applications from UK students who had declared a disability on application rose from 9.3% to 12.8% of all applicants in 2022, an increase of 3.5% points. Students with declared disabilities now make up 11.5% of total UK students admitted.

The report states that 188 students benefited from the University’s bridging programme Opportunity Oxford. The programme helps to “[develop] high-level academic skills that support the success of participants”, and involves a two week residential in Oxford prior to the beginning of a course in October.

The University also made 35 offers through the Astrophoria Foundation Year, which is open to students who have experienced “disadvantage or disruption” in their education. Upon completion of the foundation year, they can progress onto an undergraduate course at Oxford without the need to re-apply. The programme will commence in 2023.

Vice Chancellor Professor Irene Tracey stated: “It is encouraging to see that steady progress continues to be made to ensure that those with the highest academic potential, from all backgrounds, can realise their aspirations to study here – despite admissions continuing to be increasingly competitive”. 

Tracey added that “[o]ur students reflect the UK’s diversity in many respects, and we want to maintain long-term progress in this area […] we will continue to innovate and build on the success of our existing outreach initiatives”.