Oxford University received a record number of applications this year, with the majority of additional hopefuls applying from the state sector.
The University received 17,085 applications, compared with 15,277 last year. The extra 1,808 included 1,110 more applicants from UK state schools than were received in 2008, with 399 more independent school and 299 more from other, mainly international, students.
Of the UK students that applied, 63.6% of the total were from state schools and 36.4% from independent schools.
Mike Nicholson, Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Oxford University was enthusiastic about the figures “This is great news. We have worked hard to ensure that all students with the potential to succeed at Oxford apply, regardless of their background. I believe we can now say that this work is beginning to bear fruit. We have had a 17% increase in state-educated applicants this year, which suggests that our efforts to challenge stereotypes and mythology about Oxford are having an impact.”
Jonny Medland’s OUSU’s VP for access and academic affairs agreed, “It’s great to see such a large increase in applications to Oxford for the second year in a row. The work which the university, colleges and the Target Schools campaign do is invaluable in breaking down myths about Oxford and hopefully our hard work is now being reflected in the numbers. Our work now needs to continue – these figures show we can make a difference and how important it is that student-led access schemes continue to enjoy the enthusiasm and dedication of current undergraduates here in Oxford.”
Nicholson added, “The increase in the number of highly qualified applicants does create challenges. But we are confident our rigorous selection process meets these challenges by using a range of measures to select the very best candidates from the very good.”
Carys Roberts, JCR access officer at University college, commented, “This year’s applications show that access should still be at the top of the university’s agenda, as despite a 63.6% rate of applications from the maintained sector, acceptance rates fail to reach a similar level every year. Oxford should be doing more to improve the acceptance rate, but this does not necessarily have to amount to social engineering. Candidates from the independent sector are often at an advantage at interview because they are used to similar situations, know what to expect and have experience of demonstrating their argumentation abilities.”
Daniel Webb, a student at Worcester College added that state school applicants might be deterred from applying due to stereotypical perceptions of Oxford. “Despite the application statistics, my personal experience in visiting state schools shows that certain myths which put them off Oxford still prevail. These myths seem to be self-perpetuating, partly through the media, and therefore I think Oxford will always have a social responsibility to dispel them. To this end, Worcester College regularly goes on school visits as well as regularly welcoming schools for tours with question and answer sessions; it also participates in the FE Access Initiative.”
Joe Staines, Jesus JCR’s access and careers officer, argued that there was still more work to be done, “The University does a lot of good outreach, but could of course be doing more. The principal difference seems to stem from a greater expectation for Oxbridge applications at independent schools, so the impetus is really with state schools in that respect, and comes from a wider problem of insufficient provision for talented young people.”