Reading: Who goes to Oxford University?

Reading: Who goes to Oxford University?
Intermediate to advanced level (B1-C2)

This year just over 40% of undergraduate places at Oxford University went to UK students who attended independent schools. In 2005, the figure was 48% and in 1995 it was almost 52%, and if you go back to 1961, it was a little over 65%.

To give some background to the figures, in the UK around 93% of school students go to state schools. These are government funded and do not charge fees. In contrast, only 6.5% of school students go to independent (private) schools. But students who go to independent schools are about twice as likely to take A levels and on average achieve better grades than students who attend state schools. A levels are the end-of-school exams that most people take when they plan to go to university.

Over the years, there has been a push to encourage more state school students to apply to the top universities. The reason for this is that for many state school students, Oxford and Cambridge are seen as quite snobbish or elitist and not places where they are welcome or would fit in.

One way to overcome this reluctance to apply is for universities like Oxford to develop new contacts with schools that have little experience of getting students to the top universities. This can involve visiting such schools, often located in less-privileged areas of the country, and organising trips for potential applicants to Oxford or Cambridge. Another element is for universities like Oxford to take into account more than just exam results and to consider the social and economic environment that applicants come from. We will see if the trend towards to social inclusion continues.