Widening access to Oxford and UK admissions statistics: an update

As you may be aware, this morning Oxford University released its annual admissions statistics. From the perspective of Trinity College, it is clear that, in terms of our UK admissions, we still have some way to go to being able to demonstrate that we are attracting and recruiting students from the widest range of social and educational backgrounds. We have been working very hard in recent years to make sure that we reach talented applicants from all backgrounds and I want to reiterate my thanks to the many people across Trinity who are playing an active role, in particular our Student Ambassadors and our professional Access team. Your work really is making a difference.

I’d illustrate that by sharing with you the percentage of state/maintained school students who are making successful applications to Trinity and the steady progress that is being made towards our five-year target of achieving or exceeding the average of state schools students admitted across the Collegiate University. The table below showing year-on-year data over five years shows the direction of travel:

Year 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 Offers made for 2019/20
% of UK intake from state schools 33.8% 41.1% 49.2% 53.6% 57.5%

Along with the University, we acknowledge the need to further increase the rate of progress in opening up Oxford to students from all backgrounds. Two weeks ago the University unveiled two new programmes – Opportunity Oxford and Foundation Oxford – which aim to increase significantly the number of most promising students from less advantaged backgrounds. When fully up and running, they will offer transformative paths to outstanding education for up to 250 state school students a year, representing 10% of Oxford’s UK undergraduate intake. This will be a major step change for the University, boosting the proportion of students coming to Oxford from under-represented backgrounds from 15% of the current UK intake to 25%.

A summary of the programmes is available here: www.ox.ac.uk/opportunity

These are significant new initiatives which build on the success of Oxford’s existing activities to open its doors to a wider field of students and we are pleased to let you know that Trinity’s Governing Body has signalled its support in principle for both programmes.

This is an exciting development for the University – exciting also for Trinity as we pursue our commitment to making sure that our UK undergraduate intake is fully representative of the talent and potential that exists across the country.

Almost exactly a year ago, Trinity published its key priorities for the next five years and this seems like a good moment to update you on our access work during the past year. This has been a truly collaborative programme involving all Trinity’s different academic communities.

In identifying our priorities for the next five years, Trinity’s Governing Body has resolved that Access will be one of our key strategic priorities and we have taken the following actions in just 12 months:

  • We created a new role of Head of Access, reporting directly to the President, and welcomed Hannah Rolley in this role last September and Emma Johnson as Access Officer soon after;
  • We audited and subsequently redesigned our access activity to ensure that all our activity is targeted towards meeting our core aims. This year has been about putting in place strong foundations for a structured and interlinked suite of programmes;
  • We launched a new formal Student Ambassador programme and, to date, we have over 65 Trinity Undergraduate students who have been regularly supporting the Access Team in their work with schools and around 15 Graduate students who have been leading and delivering subject enrichment days in Trinity for pupils in Key Stages 4 and 5. This is a wonderful signal of Trinity’s commitment to reaching out and we thank all of you very warmly for embracing this ambassador programme with such enthusiasm and skill;
  • We hosted our first Offer Holder Day in March in a joint initiative with our Access Team, Trinity Ambassadors and the JCR, when we offered a warm welcome to those offered a place to join Trinity in October 2019;
  • We expanded our current role in proven University-wide outreach programmes such as UNIQ and Target Oxbridge which offer transformational experiences for their participants and in which Trinity is a proud partner;
  • We developed a comprehensive programme of support for teachers in a broad range of specialist areas including UCAS, Oxford applications and subject enrichment across the key stages and will host our first teachers’ conference in Trinity later this year;
  • We developed our work in Oxfordshire and played a leading role in developing a consortium of colleges to collaborate on access work in the North East – there will be more to announce on this later in the year;
  • We commissioned a suite of Access videos with a view to communicating the feel and character of Trinity, as well as providing answers to the most frequently asked questions and debunking some of the misconceptions and myths about studying at Oxford.

Our aim is for Trinity to be recognised as a modern college that welcomes a diverse and widely representative community, in which international, UK state and independent school students all have a place, and students of all backgrounds feel equally valued, supported and able to flourish.

We know that there is still much for us to achieve in terms of widening access. However, we have made a fantastic start there is much more planned. Trinity is what we make it and this development has demonstrated the warmth, commitment and talent that lies at the heart of our community.

Thank you all,

Dame Hilary Boulding, Trinity College President