Release of Oxford University's Annual Admissions Statistical Report
This morning, the University of Oxford released their Annual Admissions Statistical Report. The report in full can be found here. The below is a response to this report from the College's Tutor for Admissions and Tinsley Outreach Fellow.
Worcester College is committed to working towards admitting a student body genuinely representative of the population, and becoming somewhere that any student of any background would want to be. This data (aggregated for admissions rounds undertaken 2015-18) reflects Worcester’s historically poor record in admitting BAME students, which we are determined to improve. The report released today does not include our current cohort of offer-holders, who were made offers during the 2019 admissions round and will begin their studies this October.
In 2019 we set ourselves a series of targets, aimed at making our UK admissions representative of the demographics of those who achieve AAA+ at A level. Since approximately 21% of students who achieve AAA+ at A level are Black or minority ethnic, our target was for the group of students we admitted in 2019 to be made up of at least 21% of these students. (In 2019 18% of our on-course students were BAME, and 2.1% were Black.) In order to achieve this, we needed to do two things: to diversify our applicant pool, and to work with tutors to make admissions fairer immediately. We have launched a series of sustained outreach programmes in our link areas in West Yorkshire, all of which are currently continuing online, and have committed to a sustained access project supporting Black and minority ethnic year 11 and 12s across the UK in their journey to university (details on these programmes are available here). We continue to work closely with and to support the work of Target Oxbridge and the Social Mobility Foundation - organisations that have an impressive record of increasing access in particular for Black students (as well as other under-represented groups). More importantly, we worked with tutors in the 2019 admissions round to establish fairer ways of recognising potential (a full report on this work can be found here).
By rethinking how admitting tutors approach the question of potential, we were able to make some dramatic changes: of our 2020 UK offer-holders, 83% are studying at state schools; 20% are from areas of low levels of progression to higher education (POLAR quintiles 1&2), and 22% are from socio-economically disadvantaged areas (ACORN categories 4&5). Unfortunately UCAS does not release race / ethnicity data until later in the year, so we do not have official confirmation that we have made progress towards our goal of admitting BAME students in numbers that are representative of those who achieve AAA+ at A level. We hope that when this data is released, we will have seen progress in this area, but we are not in the least complacent.
This is a long term vision, and our goal is ultimately to become fully representative of UK society. Worcester College is profoundly committed to that goal, and humbly aware of how far we have to go.