Proportion of black and minority ethnic students at Oxford reaches record high

Eleanor Busby, PA Education Correspondent

The University of Oxford accepted record numbers of British students from ethnic minority backgrounds last year.

More than a fifth (23.6%) of undergraduates from the UK admitted to the institution in 2020 were from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds – compared to 22% the previous year, figures show.

The number of BAME students rose from 558 in 2019 to 684 last year, according to the admissions data.

The number of black students was 106, or 3.7%, of the intake in 2020, up from 80 students, or 3.2%, the previous year.

Early figures from Oxford for 2021 suggest offers to state school pupils are in line with last year.

Students from state schools received 68.7% of all the offers at Oxford this year, compared with 69.1%  last year, according to the data.

Dr Samina Khan, director of undergraduate admissions and outreach, said: “We understand the negative impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on state schools and that teaching and learning for some students has been heavily interrupted. Despite this challenging environment, we are pleased that we have retained last year’s large increase of offers to state schools.”

Oxford said the ratio between admissions from the most socially advantaged and the least has also continued to fall.

For students from areas less likely to participate in higher education, it fell from a ratio of 7.6:1 to 6.3:1, which the university said was well ahead of the target it had agreed with the Office for Students (OfS).

The figures come as the most selective universities are under increasing pressure to improve access to higher education for different groups of students – including those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Dr Khan added: “Last year’s record figures for offers to students from underrepresented groups was a significant step towards diversifying our student body, but to be able to make further advances for a second year during the Covid-19 pandemic is an achievement and testament to the hard work by many students in these difficult circumstances.

“The university has also worked hard to put much of its outreach and access activity online and we are delighted this helped keep us on track to boost the proportion of undergraduate student intake coming to Oxford from under-represented backgrounds.”

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