Improving diversity

23rd May 2018

News, Student news, Alumni news

Wadham College warmly welcomes today’s release of undergraduate admissions statistics by the University of Oxford. Although we know that much more needs to be done in broadening access to an Oxford education, we are also proud of our progress so far - and we hope that the release of this data will help to inform public debate on Oxford’s admissions policies and record.

The data released today includes college-level admissions data according to various applicant characteristics such as ethnicity, social class, region and state/private school background. This data mainly concerns UK undergraduates, and so it gives only a partial picture of our student body, which also includes very many overseas and graduate students, who come from a wide range of ethnicities and social backgrounds.

Statistics Report 2018

Given the relatively small number of students being accepted each year by any one college, apparent differences between colleges can easily be exaggerated. Nevertheless, Wadham is widely recognised, both within Oxford and nationwide, for its long-standing commitment to broadening access, and our distinctive focus on sustained engagement with younger school students will have a crucial impact on admissions to the University in years to come.  We hope that today’s data release will help to highlight the exciting and innovative access and outreach work being done at Wadham and elsewhere in the University of Oxford to break down out-dated stereotypes and to help attract talented young people from under-represented backgrounds.

“Wadham has been at the forefront of efforts to improve diversity and widening participation at Oxford, and we are determined to continue this work. We are proud of our innovative and wide-ranging access programmes, recognising that there is always more to do. With the support of our alumni, tutors, students and staff, our Access to Excellence programme is bringing brilliant young people from all communities and backgrounds to live and study here. Construction of our dedicated access facility - the first such building in Oxford - begins this summer in the heart of our College so that we can increase our capacity to host visits and run residential summer schools. Wadham’s academic record demonstrates that fair access, international reach and academic excellence go hand in hand.” The Warden of Wadham College, Ken Macdonald QC.

Wadham’s access and outreach work

Wadham has two full time access and outreach staff whose role is to engage with pupils and schools from the College’s link areas, and organise events for under-represented groups in higher education. The College’s undergraduate admissions officer also shares outreach responsibilities, particularly for access work with year 12/13 students and teachers (with the college’s next teachers’ conference to be held summer 2019).  Inbound events focus primarily on engaging Year 9/10 and Year 12 pupils with the physical and intellectual environment of Wadham: involving academic taster sessions with graduates and tutors; university focussed support; and meeting current students. 

Through longer term projects like the Year 10/11 Luton Project, cited as a model of innovative good practice in the Office for Fair Access’s report 18-19, and our Year 12 Summer Schools the College seeks to raise attainment, as well as aspiration, by supporting pupils over sustained periods.  Working with other colleges and the University, Wadham supports UNIQ, Pathways and Information, Advice and Guidance workshops across the country.  The Access Team visits schools throughout the College’s 11 link regions, and in turn hosts residentials, for students from the College’s Luton scheme, Wad-Ham scheme, and on its summer schools.

Students considering applying to Oxford are given advice on the application process, writing personal statements, and preparing for interviews.  Wadham also works with third parties specialising in widening participation such as IntoUniversity (including financial support of the North Islington centre), The Brilliant Club and the Bridge Group. Working with Target Oxbridge, the College has provided both residential and financial support to the scheme, supporting black African and Caribbean students and students of mixed race with black African and Caribbean heritage in applying to either Oxford or Cambridge.

Over the last three years the College has dramatically expanded its access work, with a particular focus on targeting those students who will benefit most. The College’s link regions encompass a wide range of socio-economic contexts and challenges. Balancing access work evenly between inner-city London boroughs and more rural environments is challenging, but it is important to ensure that relevant support and advice is provided to all schools and colleges with whom Wadham is engaged.  From a sample of 2,100 pupils who provided their data directly to Wadham 2016/17, 38% were identified as disadvantaged using the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD), 25% were in POLAR3 quintiles 1 and 2 and 33% were from ACORN 4 and 5 postcodes.

Wadham’s 2018 Impact Report, to be published this June, will show the progress that has been made since our previous report approximately a year ago

Among many other new initiatives, Wadham is planning to expand the provision of support for pupils in Year 9, 10 and 11 in Luton, to raise both aspiration and attainment and in order to help widen access for future generations. It will also see College accommodation for all second year undergraduates provided from October 2019, allowing students to access accommodation at a fair price, and in 2020, the completion of a dedicated access centre, placing school visits and the work of the access team at the heart of the college community.

Wadham College values

Wadham has a proud tradition of being at the forefront of advancing equality of opportunity, and celebrates vigorous debate, independent thought, and academic excellence. We seek to create a welcoming, accessible, and secure environment in which to work, study, live, and visit. Our community embraces people of all ages, backgrounds, races/ethnicities, nationalities, beliefs (including religious beliefs), genders, sexualities, dis/abilities, and appearances. This diversity, underpinned by mutual respect and consideration, enriches us all.

  • Wadham students answer questions during a College tour

  • A Wadham Aspiration Day visits the Museum of Natural History

  • Engaging younger school students with the physical and intellectual environment of Wadham