Drive for more student diversity paying off, says Oxford University | Universities

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The University of Oxford says it has astir doubled the proportionality of students from disadvantaged backgrounds starting their studies, arsenic portion of a five-year turnaround resulting successful its astir divers ever intake.

The proportionality of caller students from socio-economically disadvantaged areas roseate from 8.2% to 15.9% implicit the past 5 years. For the world twelvemonth 2020-21, the assemblage besides recruited grounds numbers of authorities school-educated students (68.4% of the total, a emergence of 18% implicit 5 years), black, Asian and number taste students (23.6%, a 50% increase) and students with disabilities (10.4%, a 44% rise), according to its yearly admissions report.

“We person made a concerted effort to diversify the socio-economic backgrounds of our pupil body. There has been a existent committedness crossed the university,” said Oxford’s vice-chancellor, Louise Richardson.

“Those who unrecorded and enactment successful the assemblage judge it to beryllium a meritocratic institution, and that the nationalist representation is not accordant with day-to-day life. I’m enormously arrogant of the advancement we’ve made.”

A assemblage spokesperson said aboriginal figures for offers made for the 2021 intake suggest that advancement volition beryllium maintained, with akin numbers of authorities schoolhouse students receiving offers and an summation among those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The assemblage has continued its outreach activities online passim the pandemic, and sent retired laptops and wifi dongles to guarantee that each students would beryllium capable to enactment successful online interviews.

Five years ago, authorities schoolhouse applicants to Oxford received 56% of undergraduate offers, portion 43% went to those educated astatine autarkic schools, generating wide disapproval from MPs and the media that the assemblage was not doing capable to pull a wider scope of students.

The assemblage responded by introducing a people to boost the proportionality of its undergraduate intake coming from underrepresented backgrounds from 15% to 25% by 2023.

Prof Louise Richardson astatine the Oxford Union successful 2018. Photograph: Roger Askew/The Oxford Union/Shutterstock

The fig presently stands astatine 18.8% for 2020. Richardson said targeted initiatives were helping the assemblage to beryllium “firmly connected track” to conscionable this goal, particularly those that demystify the university.

Oxford has doubled the size of its Uniq summertime school, and launched an Opportunity Oxford people that teaches survey skills to assistance students from lower-performing schools drawback up, and besides a caller assistance targeted astatine achromatic British undergraduates and achromatic postgraduates.

Kane Moylett, a first-year instrumentality pupil from Scunthorpe, said Opportunity Oxford had helped him marque the modulation from a schoolhouse wherever helium had lone been expected to execute minimal grades to a highly pressurised environment. “It was rather a large jump,” helium said.

But mostly helium has benefited from the societal connections. “Coming to a assemblage similar Oxford you’re apprehensive that everyone’s going to beryllium precise posh and from backstage schoolhouse and you’re not going to find anyone similar you, but I recovered truthful galore friends connected the programme.”

Despite the progress, Richardson acknowledged determination stay disparities among geographical regions and taste groups. The study showed that conscionable 2.6% of AAA+ students successful north-east England received offers successful 2020, compared with 19% successful Greater London. Equally, Asian students made up 9.6% of UK students admitted, portion students of achromatic African oregon Caribbean practice comprised 3.6%.

Samina Khan, manager of undergraduate admissions, said the assemblage is “increasing our absorption connected reaching determination cold-spots” by moving with schools crossed the country.

One further obstruction for BAME students and those who are authorities school-educated oregon from disadvantaged backgrounds is that they are much apt to use for the astir competitory courses than their much privileged peers, the study noted. Richardson said this is owed to a deficiency of knowing of the system, which the assemblage is seeking to remedy by providing wide accusation connected people popularity.

In 2020, the assemblage besides admitted 300 much students than accustomed pursuing higher than expected results among A-level students; however, Richardson said Oxford would proceed to support choky fig controls successful place, dissimilar galore different prestigious universities, to support its highly personalised exemplary of education.

“That means it becomes much competitory to get into Oxford – each twelvemonth much and much students are applying but there’s nary maturation successful places, truthful we’re turning down much highly qualified students we would emotion to take,” she said.

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