Oxford University have announced their 2019 BAME undergraduate intake statistics. The 2019 intake of students from Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds was more than 22%’ coming in at 560 students overall.

The previous year’s statistic was 18%. The University has been making big steps forward in it’s access initiatives: Opportunity Oxford and Foundation Oxford were announced last year, following the success of Lady Margaret Hall’s pioneering foundation year scheme.

The news comes “alongside a steady increase in the number of students choosing the University choosing from under-represented backgrounds”, according to the university. Professor Martin Williams, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education at Oxford University said: “It has been a busy 12 months at Oxford, and I am thrilled to share that our efforts to widen access and build a University environment where talented students from every background and region, are welcome and would want to be here, are moving in the right direction.

“These developments are testament to the individuals working towards and driving our access agenda day to day. Our access and outreach teams work with schools, families and communities to reach students and provide opportunities for them to decide for themselves based on facts and what we have to offer them – not hear say, or long-held perceptions, whether Oxford is the place for them.”

Last week, the University announced the Oxford–Arlan Hamilton and Earline Butler Sims Scholarship – its “first dedicated, fully funded scholarship at undergraduate level for black British students from disadvantaged backgrounds, provided by the international tech entrepreneur Arlan Hamilton.”

A full breakdown of the BAME 2019 statistics shows that the increase in Pakistani & Bangladeshi students has also risen by 0.5% – as the African and Caribbean admissions have also increased by 0.5% from 1.6% in 2018 to 2.1% in 2019 – increasing from 2.6% to 3.1%.

The Pakistani and Bangladeshi statistic is included also in the Asian student statistic, with admissions increasing from 8.3% to 9.6%. Admissions for students from Mixed Heritage backgrounds grew by 1.6% from 6.5% to 8.1%. The university has alluded to future postgraduate access work: “As well as continued efforts to sustain an inclusive undergraduate student body, specific attention will be given to ensuring that the University environment is as inclusive as it can be, from the curriculum studied to the behaviours observed.

“Work will also focus on postgraduate admissions, and expanding the University’s offering for students who have been through the care system.” This comes after the first postgraduate Oxford summer school pilot last year, UNIQ+, where “33 students from 23 different universities around the country arriving for the immersive six-week-long DPhil (PhD) experience.”

Professor Williams added: “Truly being an inclusive institution is about more than just talking about access and attracting students from less traditional backgrounds. All students need to feel and trust that Oxford is somewhere they feel welcome, valued and respected, and that their wellbeing matters to the University.

“I am proud to be a part of this exceptional University community, and over the next 12 months I look forward to sharing more about our work to take Oxford University to the next level.”

Access data analysis

It has been a big week for Oxford admissions data. The data released for BAME admissions in 2019 reveals some big jumps overall: from 18% of the admitted students being from BAME backgrounds in the 2018/19 cycle, to 22% in the 2019/20 cycle.

The University led its press release with the title: “More Black British students than ever choosing Oxford.”

This is correct; in 2018 there were 65 students from African and Caribbean backgrounds admitted, in 2019 there were 80. For the 2018 cycle – based off the data given in the May 2019 access report – Oxford received 424 applications from students with Black African or Black Caribbean heritage, made offers to 86 and admitted 65.

In the same year 9,048 white students applied to Oxford, 2,305 were made offers and 2,045 were admitted. Looking at the data, 20.3% of black students who applied were made an offer; 25.5% of white students were made an offer.

In 2018 1,687 Asian students applied to Oxford, 249 made offers and 208 admitted. This means that 14.7% of Asian students who applied in that cycle were made an offer. This is significantly lower than the percentages for the other groups the University breaks race down into.

The University includes Bangladeshi and Pakistani students within their statistics for Asian students: “Within the British Asian group, Bangladeshi and Pakistani students are considered under-represented at highly selective universities, hence their inclusion as a separate group at University level in [the admissions] report.”

Of the 443 Bangladeshi and Pakistani students who applied to Oxford in 2018, 52 were made offers – this means that 11.7% of these students who applied were made an offer, again this is significantly lower than other groups.

For Mixed Heritage students in the same admissions cycle: 816 applied, 191 were made offers and 162 admitted. Therefore, 23.4% of Mixed Heritage students were made an offer.

We include this data analysis here as, whilst we wait for the full breakdown in the admissions report for 2018/19, it shows that whilst the University is correct in stating ‘More Black British students than ever choosing Oxford’, that many BME students are choosing to apply to Oxford, but their chances of being made an offer are still significantly lower than White British students, again – based on the 2018 admissions data.

Elsewhere in access news, the University has announced that 69% of the students made offers to study at Oxford in the 2019/20 cycle were made to students from UK state schools.

We cannot expect a full breakdown of all this data to be released until the 2021 Annual Admissions Statistical Report. However, the fact that this is the largest increase Oxford has ever had shows real progress, but the data on POLAR/ACORN will be more revealing of the socio-economic backgrounds of students from the aforementioned state school statistics.