Oxford University has accepted more state school students for the upcoming academic year than any time in the past 40 years.
The number of state school students attending Oxford will have gone up almost 10 per cent compared to a decade ago, whilst six in ten students will come from a state-educated background.
As reported by the Telegraph, the record numbers come following calls for the top universities to accept pupils from more diverse backgrounds.
Dr Samina Khan, head of undergraduate admissions at Oxford, has said they take responsibilities of diversity “incredibly seriously” and that the recent increase in state school entries was showing its recent efforts were “bearing fruit.”
Last year Oxford’s colleges worked with 3,400 schools on around 3,000 “outreach” projects.
According to the BBC, Oxford has offered 59.2 per cent of its places to state school pupils this year, though the final figures for acceptances are still to be confirmed. Parliamentary figures, meanwhile, show that in 1961 just a third of admissions were to state school students.
The recent publication of the preliminary figures has come to light following political pressure on elite universities to increase their uptake of pupils from ethnic minorities as well as disadvantaged backgrounds.
In 2014, figures revealed Oxford University had only accepted 27 black undergraduate students, leading former Prime Minister and Oxford alumnus David Cameron to call for the university to take more ethnic minority students.
As reported by the National Student, many still feel that the 59.2 per cent figure is not high enough. They cite a tweet by Jenny Chapman, MP for Darlington, which highlights the demographic mismatch:
“Oxford University celebrating 59% of places to state school pupils. Not so great as 95% of kids attend state school.”
In the same vein, the Mirror has focused on a report showing that elite state schools in the South East dominate access to Oxford and Cambridge. The region sends nearly 50 per cent more students than the national average, whilst London sends almost 100 per cent more.
Academic Sol Gamsu said that these are “comprehensive in name only” and that “the price of accessing sought-after comprehensives in gentrified neighbourhoods [has risen] beyond the means of many less affluent residents.”
Oxford University’s Dr Khan, however, spoke a of a long-term plan to diversify the institutions admissions in what is a challenging time for universities across the UK:
“These figures, along with our continuing progress towards our access agreement targets for disadvantaged groups of students, are a positive indication that all our work is bearing fruit. That we are seeing progress during a time of potentially destabilising changes to university fees, school curriculum and qualifications is all the more encouraging.”
Professor Les Ebdon, director of fair access to higher education, has welcomed the new figures by calling them “good news.” He did say that British society is less socially mobile than it was 40 years ago but indicated that Oxford University’s admissions this year were a step in the right direction that have come as “a result of the long-term, sustained outreach work that [Oxford] have been doing to attract more applications from disadvantaged students.”