Oxford University has announced that it is on course to admit the highest proportion ever of state school students. The news comes amidst widespread controversy about the A Level moderation process, which has caused many prospective students to miss their Oxford offers following results downgrades.

67.8% of incoming students are from state schools, an increase of 5.7 percentage points from the 2019/2020 intake. There was also a 2.3 percentage point intake increase of those students from the areas least likely to send people to higher education and a 6 percentage point increase of admissions of the most socio-economically disadvantaged students. Oxford University stated that the increase exceeded its own access targets for the year.

The University praised all of this year’s A Level students because of the “additional pressure and uncertainty” they had faced due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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3,900 offers were made in January for 3,287 places. So far 3,440 offers have been confirmed, including 284 to state school students who had fallen short of the grades specified in their offer. The University assured readers that they had been lenient where possible, especially in cases where students had mitigating circumstances or were from disadvantaged backgrounds. Over half of students who had missed their offers have now been admitted.

The university also reaffirmed its previous commitment to accept any student who later met their offer grades following an appeal. However, this may be in the form of deferred entry to 2021 once the maximum intake of undergraduates for 2020 is reached. An exact number for this maximum intake was not specified. Extra study skills support for the whole of the new intake was also pledged.

The statement comes following outcry at the treatment of A Level results this year, which critics have said has unjustifiably hindered the success of disadvantaged students. Oxford colleges have reacted differently to the situation. Worcester College made national headlines by stating that it would admit all of its offer holders, regardless of A-Level results. Several petitions and open letters have since been circulated on social media, calling for the university as a whole to do the same. Other colleges have cited lack of space as a reason that they could not to follow Worcester’s example.

The University’s online statement said: “Oxford does not make decisions based on grades alone, and selecting the most academically able candidates, particularly those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, is crucial to the University’s standards of inclusion and academic excellence. We are determined to work through the challenges imposed on us by this year’s circumstances and to select fairly those students of greatest potential who will thrive in their studies here.”

The University urged any offer holder who felt that their application should be reconsidered to get in touch with their school and college as soon as possible.