Diversifying Oxford

1st February 2021

News, Student news, Alumni news

State school pupils applying to Wadham have received more offers to study here than ever before in the College’s history.  

  • Wadham students

    Wadham students

More than 70% of 2021 offers to those domiciled in the UK are to state school pupils, overwhelmingly from non-selective schools.

College Warden Ken Macdonald QC welcomed this news which demonstrates that the College’s longstanding Access to Excellence programme is translating into increasing diversity among the Wadham student body.

“We are thrilled to see so many promising young people from all backgrounds having the confidence and the ability to apply and receive offers to study here,” he said. “It is heartening that our emphasis on our access programme, generously supported by our alumni and friends, is having a real effect on the number of applications we receive from talented young people who would not previously have considered Oxford.” 

This year’s undergraduate admissions round was unlike any other in the College’s history, with lockdown conditions requiring remote applicant interviews, which largely took place in their schools.

The virtual interviews provided an opportunity for applicants and tutors to engage with one another in person, in a situation closely resembling an Oxford tutorial. 

Senior Tutor Dr Mike Froggatt comments: “While there were occasional technical hitches, the whole process went more smoothly than many would have anticipated, with Wadham successfully hosting around 1000 interviews over a ten-day period in December. Interviewees were informed of their results in early January.” 

“We are delighted that this year 71% of all offers made to those domiciled in the UK went to those being educated in the state sector, the overwhelming majority in non-selective schools. This is the highest proportion in the College’s history, and compares well to the average of 68% across the University as a whole this year (up from 56% across the University in 2015),” he added. 

Early indicators also show that the College has continued to make progress in attracting applications from groups who have traditionally been under-represented at Oxford, increasing the number of offers made to such applicants.

Widening access initiatives

Wadham is also pleased to be supporting a number of access initiatives running across the collegiate University. These include seven ‘Opportunity Oxford’ offers, whereby offer-holders from backgrounds historically under-represented at Oxford attend a two-week summer school immediately prior to taking up their places. There they receive subject-specific study skill advice to help them thrive when they start their degrees.

“Wadham first years who were among the first cohort of students to participate in this scheme have commented that it helped eased the transition from school to university,” said Dr Froggatt. 

Thanks to schools and Wadham undergraduates

This year’s undergraduate admissions round was challenging for all involved, and Wadham would like to thank the schools who made time and facilities available to support their students at an exceptionally difficult time. 

Thanks also our own undergraduates, who recorded welcome pre-interview videos for applicants and who ran a virtual common room during the admissions period, giving applicants the opportunity to question current students to help get a sense of what makes Wadham unique.

Wadham College remains mindful of the uncertainty many offer-holders face regarding this year’s exams, and will be seeking to remain in close contact with them over the coming months to provide support and reassurance.