The proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds starting Oxford University studies has almost doubled up, marking an increase from 8.2 percent to 15.9 percent over the last five years, the University reports.
According to the annual report of Oxford University, the number of state school-educated students also rose to 68.8 percent of the total, recording an 18 percent increase, Erudera.com reports.
The numbers of black, Asian, and minority background students have also increased to 10.4 percent, marking a total 44 percent raise.
The Oxford vice-chancellor, Louise Richardson, said that the university had intensified attempts to diversify the socioeconomic backgrounds of the student body.
“Those who live and work in the university believe it to be a meritocratic institution, and that the public image is not consistent with day-to-day life. I’m enormously proud of the progress we’ve made,” Richardson said.
According to a university spokesperson, the early figures for new students’ offers for 2021 predict progress, with similar numbers of state school students and an increase among disadvantaged backgrounds being recorded on receiving offers.
Moreover, the university has continued to assist students by sending out laptops and wifi dongles so they would participate in online interviews.
Five years ago, state school applicants received 56 percent of undergraduate offers while 43 percent went for students coming from independent schools, which resulted in criticism for the university, saying that it wasn’t doing enough to attract a more diversified range of students.
Following this fact, the university presented a target to increase the proportion of its undergraduate intake from different backgrounds from 15 to 25 percent by 2023. As of 2020, the intended increase stands at 18.8 percent.
Oxford has maximized its Uniq summer school size and launched Opportunity Oxford, which helps lower-performing schools catch up, and also Oxford offered a new scholarship targeted at black British undergraduates, funded by the US tech entrepreneur, Arlan Hamilton.
Richardson also noted that there remain disparities among geographical regions and ethnic groups. According to the annual report, the university recruits more students from London than other regions’ share of AAA+ students (27.2 percent compared to 19 percent), with the figure being lower for Yorkshire and Humber (4.9 percent compared to 6.5 percent). Similarly, almost ten percent of UK students admitted are Asian, while black African or Caribbeans make up 3.7 percent of students’ bodies.
The director of undergraduate admissions, Samina Khan, said the university is working to reach “regional cold-sports” by working with students from all counties.
Black, Asian and other minority ethnic students face another challenge since they are more likely to apply for most competitive courses, as the report shows. Richardson noted this phenomenon occurs due to the lack of understanding of the system.
Last year, the university registered 300 more students than it usually would due to higher than expected results of A-level students.
“That means it becomes more competitive to get into Oxford – every year more and more students are applying, but there’s no growth in places, so we’re turning down more highly qualified students we would love to take,” Richardson said.
Furthermore, the Higher Education Statistics Agency has revealed that the number of international students pursuing studies in the UK has marked a 12 percent increase from 2018/2019, reaching 556,625 students.