Widening access to Oxford and UK admissions statistics: an update

On 23rd June 2020 Oxford University released its annual admissions statistics. We look forward to the release of this data as it gives us an opportunity to view a snapshot in time of the composition of our undergraduate intake and to evaluate the effectiveness of our strategy to attract and recruit students from the widest range of social and educational backgrounds. The statistics relate to the University’s undergraduate student population recruited from within the UK for each admissions round, rather than to the full community of students who are recruited from all over the world.

We have been working very hard in recent years to make sure that Trinity reaches and welcomes 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.

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. However we identified our aspiration to significantly diversify our student intake as a key aim of the College’s five year strategy and it’s clear that while there is still further to go, the data show a positive trajectory.

The following table shows the progress the College has made across a number of measures during the last three releases of the Annual Admissions Statistical Report:

Data Type University % 2017-19 Trinity % 2017-19 Trinity % 2016-18 Trinity % 2015-17
ACORN 4/5 11.4 11.9 7.4 6
POLAR 1/2 13.3 14.2 10 7
UK State School 60.3 53 48 41
BAME 19.4 17.3 15.7 15
Gender (f) 51.9 50.7 50 49

The College is making steady progress towards its five-year target of achieving or exceeding the average of state school students admitted across the Collegiate University as seen in the following table and the most recent recruitment cycle data cited below:

Recruitment cycle 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19
Trinity UK state schools final accepts 33.8% 41.1% 53.6 54.2%

Admissions to Trinity for 2019 saw a 23.5% increase in the number of state school applications to the College year on year, with an offer rate of 27% (which represented an 5% increase on the
same figure for 2018). In the 2019-20 recruitment cycle (for admission in October 2020), 67.5% of Trinity’s UK offers were to state school applicants and we are optimistic that this increase will be reflected in the final acceptances. With that aim in mind, we were thrilled that we managed to host our second Trinity College Offer Holder Day in March, just days before lockdown was imposed. The Access Team, student Ambassadors and the JCR gave a warm welcome to those offered a place to join Trinity in October 2020, answered questions and set out to banish some of the myths about what it’s like to study at Oxford. Feedback from those who attended confirmed that this helped them to make up their minds and confirm their place with us this year.

In order to increase the rate of progress in opening up Oxford to students from all backgrounds, Trinity has announced its intention to participate in two new pan-University programmes: Opportunity Oxford (which begins this summer) and Foundation Oxford in which we hope to be part of the first phase. Together, these programmes will offer transformative paths to outstanding education for up to 250 state school students a year. You can find out more about the programmes here: www.ox.ac.uk/opportunity

It has been enormously exciting to witness the transformation of Trinity’s Access programme in the past two years. Under Hannah Rolley’s leadership as Head of Access, we now have a fully-fledged Student Ambassador programme involving some seventy students in our work to widen access. Joining Emma Johnson as Access Officer, we welcomed Richard Petty this year as our new Teacher Engagement and Access Officer based full-time in the North East of England.

We’re about to launch an online tool, The Access Platform, to enable prospective applicants to chat live with our current undergraduates. And we commissioned a suite of short videos designed to showcase College life at Trinity which we hope will assuage any concerns or misconceptions about the College or University. Do take a look at them here.

To strengthen our work in the North East, in November 2019 we launched Oxford for North East, a collaborative venture involving Trinity, St. Anne’s and Christ Church to deliver an extensive and bespoke programme of support for students, parents and teachers in the North East of England. Our first large joint venture was the North East Offer Holders’ Event. This was originally scheduled to be held in person in Newcastle but it was adapted at speed to be delivered ‘virtually’ as a result of COVID-19. 32 offer holders in the region across 24 prospective colleges took part and their feedback comments have been positive, with students feeling significantly more knowledgeable about student life at Oxford. The following are typical:

  •  “The fact that all the different student ambassadors had good things to say and were able to overcome some of the myths was really good to hear – especially in a more informal context than open days or interviews”
  • “This event has reassured me further that I am welcomed at Oxford and there is support in place for me!”

With schools closed as a result of Coronavirus, the Access Team has spent the past three months developing high-quality digital resources to transfer virtually all our ‘in school’ and ‘in college’ programmes to an online format. It has been a monumental task but we’re now able to signpost teachers to a wealth of online subject enrichment content, provide interactive workshops for students about applying to university generally and Oxford specifically, and provide professional development content for teachers to help them to support and guide their students.

Online teacher CPD sessions are allowing us to reach many more teachers than our face-to-face programmes could ever hope to achieve. It is good to be able to take something positive from these past three months of lockdown and we’re confident that we can now overcome the barriers teachers usually face with regard to distance, cost of travel and time commitments. We’re also taking the steps to ensure that this programme of CPD is formally accredited.

We continue to play a 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.

I hope that all members of the College feel they can take pride in the measures we are taking to ensure that we are reaching, supporting and ultimately welcoming talented students from the widest range of backgrounds to Trinity. There is more to do but we will continue to dedicate time and resources to achieve our goal of ensuring that Trinity welcomes a diverse and widely representative community in which students of all backgrounds feel equally valued, supported and able to flourish

Thank you all for your contribution to achieving this.

With warmest wishes,


Dame Hilary Boulding, Trinity College President