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Proportion of state school pupils admitted to University of Oxford falls

It comes as the University of Cambridge also accepted fewer students from the state sector this academic year.

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General view of the Oxford University Examination School in Oxford

The proportion of state school pupils accepted at the University of Oxford this academic year has fallen slightly.

The University of Oxford’s admissions data shows that 67.6% of successful UK-domiciled undergraduates were educated in state schools in 2023.

It marks a drop from the previous year when 68.1% of British undergraduate students admitted to Oxford came from the state sector.

This is the third year in a row that the proportion of state educated students admitted to Oxford has fallen.

But the figure remains higher than in 2019, the year before the pandemic, when 62.3% of UK undergraduates were from state schools.

The latest data shows that more state school students applied to Oxford, from 9,965 in 2022 to 10,150 in 2023, and the number of offers made by the institution to state-educated pupils also increased, from 1,851 to 1,935.

But overall the total number of students admitted from the state sector decreased, from 1,678 in 2022 to 1,662 in 2023.

The report also shows that fewer students from areas of low progression to higher education were admitted to Oxford in 2023 than before the pandemic.

In 2023, 13.3% of UK undergraduates admitted to Oxford were from the two groups with lowest progression to higher education – known as POLAR quintiles 1 and 2 – compared to 16.6% in 2022 and 14.0% in 2019.

The latest figures come after the University of Cambridge published its admissions data last week, which showed that fewer undergraduates from state schools were accepted at the elite university than in 2022.

Overall, 72.6% of the domestic undergraduates students who were accepted at Cambridge in 2023 were from the state sector, compared to 72.9% in 2022.

Oxford’s annual admissions report, published on Monday, also showed that the proportion of UK students and non-EU students admitted to the institution has risen since 2019, while fewer EU students have been admitted.

The proportion of British students accepted into Oxford this academic year has increased slightly, from 79.4% in 2022 to 79.5% in 2023.

Meanwhile, the proportion of students from non-EU countries has remained the same as the previous year (16.8%), and the proportion of students from the EU has fallen from 3.8% in 2022 to 3.7% in 2023.

The report also showed that the number of UK-domiciled Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) applicants to Oxford has increased since 2019, as have the numbers of students receiving offers and being admitted.

The proportion of UK-domiciled students admitted to Oxford who said they identify as BME has risen from 27.8% in 2022 to 28.8% in 2023.

An Oxford University spokesperson said: “Oxford embraces students from all school types and is committed to attracting students with the highest academic potential, from a diverse range of backgrounds.

“The proportion of UK undergraduates from state schools has risen considerably in recent years, from 60.5% in 2018 to 67.6% in 2023.

“This figure can be affected by a number of factors, including the number of applicants who successfully meet the conditions of their offer.”

Lee Elliot Major, professor of social mobility at the University of Exeter, said: “In the wake of the pandemic, the future prospects for social mobility appear increasingly bleak – and one of the clearest signals is the declining socio-economic diversity of admissions into our most selective and prestigious universities, where so much progress has been made in recent years. This is so important as many of our future elites graduate from these universities.

“Drives to attract university students from under-resourced backgrounds will face unprecedented challenges in the coming years amid widening divides in school results, escalating levels of child poverty and a demographic boom that will make competition for degree places fiercer than ever before.”

Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), called the figures “disappointing” as she said it is “still a long way short of reflecting wider society.”

She said: “For example, 67.6% of Oxford admissions were to state school pupils, whereas about 93% of all pupils go to state schools in England.

“If we want a more equitable society we have to do more to achieve that objective.”

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