University of Oxford

Diverse backgrounds

Please let us know whether you think your university does enough to attract and cater for students from a diverse range of backgrounds?

2017

"Diversity and outreach programmes are an area that the university is actively working on. I think it may take a few more years for the success of these initiatives to bear fruit."
"Within my college, there are many access schemes aimed at encouraging applications by those from underprivileged backgrounds. I am aware we are one of the better colleges for this, however and I feel a larger effort could and should be made university wide."
"It depends on the college. Mine does access schemes and an access roadshow, but the university in general does not."
"Oxford is an exceptionally expensive place to live and student stipends and maintenance loans tend not to match what is actually required. As a result, students from less well-off backgrounds tend to be discouraged from applying or attending. The university could absolutely do much more to attract students from ethnic minority backgrounds, as well as students from families with lower incomes."
"Having worked on just a handful of the access initiatives that the university actively pursues (including a university-wide summer school, a department-based mentoring programme and college-based access open days) I think I can say with quite a bit of confidence that the university is doing a lot of work to attract students from a diverse range of backgrounds, a lot more than many other universities are doing. In terms of support while they are at university, I know some colleges have great access to bursaries, grants and hardship funds, whereas other colleges are less helpful with that sort of thing. In terms of support for people from BME backgrounds, I think it's more students' efforts in creating societies such as the very active African and Caribbean Society and resources like peer supporters of colour that give support."
"The uni does quite a bit including events for LGBTQ+ , international and disadvantaged students."
"I think Oxford still has some problems with diversity. There is still an overwhelming number of students from very privileged backgrounds. Having said this, the university works very hard at its outreach programmes to try to attract students from less traditional backgrounds and progress is being made continuously."
"There are lots of international students but a fairly low percentage of British BME students. I think the university has an extensive access scheme that encourages state school students, but maybe not enough that is specifically aimed at minorities. This is an uphill battle in terms of perceptions of Oxford and inequality present in schools."
"The uni actively encourages people from all backgrounds to apply, including through summer programmes, but schools need to do more to show that anyone can attend, not just the stereotype."

2016

"The diversity is currently probably lower than similar universities but there is a huge push on improving this. Each college is assigned an area of the country to target with access and outreach and will generally have multiple events every week (which students can get involved in) to this aim. There's a big push on making students from different backgrounds aware of the option of higher education as a whole, and finding the right thing for them, rather than pushing Oxford alone on to them."
"I did go to a summer school called UNIQ in year 12, which the university ran to encourage people from a wider variety of backgrounds (such as working-class) to apply to Oxford. There did seem to be a fair amount of people from private schools at this summer school though, so I'm not sure how well that worked. In regards to catering for students from a diverse range of backgrounds, I'm not sure I can really judge this very well as I'm white and from a relatively middle-class background."
"This is a big debate, one which Oxford is highly aware of. Part of the problem is that people who need to be better represented are discouraged from applying precisely because of this image. My advice is APPLY! Oxford does take people based on merit, and does understand circumstance. Don't be put off by Oxford's public school reputation, it exists, but it's no more than a strand."
"It's definitely improving, but the diversity problem for Oxford exists far lower down, at the level of the private schools. So it's hard to imagine how much they can really do. They need to accept more people from low economic backgrounds and state schools (excluding grammar schools), which I don't think they do enough of at the moment. The actual university doesn't do enough to dispel the myths about Oxford in terms of workload and student life."
"Does a lot of really good outreach work. However, the systemic disadvantages faced by students from non-wealthy non-white backgrounds mean that diversity isn't that high. There are lots of groups who promote diversity in the university though."
"It does offer a lot ranging from food choices, different activities and societies offering music and dance from other cultures, and book collections in the libraries."
"Oxford does have a problem with access and much needs to be done. Colleges run access and outreach events (eg subject study days in Oxford) and send students to deliver talks and sessions in state schools across the UK, but I'm not sure if this is enough. At the same time, the negative media coverage really doesn't help and detracts from ongoing efforts to encourage applications from low-income and minority students."
"It is something that Oxford is working on, with each college having an outreach region alongside the university roadshows and access events."
"More diverse than I expected, but it still feels like there is a disproportionate number of private school students, particularly from the highest achieving schools like Eton. Most colleges undertake access work inviting schools from all over to the university to experience life here and encourage them to apply despite their background, so I think it is improving."
"The entry requirements are such that they take pupils on merit. However, it is often richer people who have better schooling, grades etc. Not really Oxford's fault."

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