Disadvantaged pupils get priority for Oxford interview, says admissions chief

Pupils applying to the University of Oxford from low-performing schools or disadvantaged homes are “more likely” to be given entrance interviews than their more advantaged peers, the university’s head of admissions has told TES.

Samina Khan also used her first full-length interview since taking up her job in 2014 to advise schools to prepare talented pupils for Oxbridge entrance from the age of 11. She argued that today’s “Hogwarts generation” was excited by Oxford’s traditions, not put off by them.

Asked if a pupil predicted three A grades at A-level was more likely to get an interview at Oxford if they came from a disadvantaged home or low performing school, she said: “You are more likely to be looked at and shortlisted for an interview.”

Although Oxford refuses to lower grades for certain students to take disadvantage into account, the use of “contextual data” could be a considerable leg-up for some, given that there were 17,000 applications for 3,200 undergraduate places in 2014.

Dr Khan acknowledged that although progress had been made in widening access to Oxford, there was still a long way to go to attract applicants from areas and schools with historically low participation.

“Where we would like to go to next is to have more long-term, sustained contacts with the teaching profession and also to reach out to schools and teachers who are currently not engaging with us; those in those schools who are thinking Oxford is not for them, not right for their students,” she said.

This is an edited version of an article from the 8 January edition of TES. To read the full article and to subscribe to TES, click here.

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