Oriel's Access Strategy and Outreach Work

  • Oxford Open Days
Oriel is committed to attracting and admitting the best students regardless of school, ethnicity or social background, and our outreach and admissions processes reflect this. We play our part in this in many ways.

Working with link regions

As part of the University of Oxford’s regional outreach strategy, we take responsibility for being the first point of contact for schools in two regions of the country - Dudley, Walsall, Wolverhampton and Worcestershire in the West Midlands, and Kensington and Chelsea, and Richmond upon Thames in London.

Our work with these areas includes visits from Oriel to schools in our link areas, to talk to students about life at the University of Oxford, and to provide advice on how to apply. We also host groups of students from a range of year groups and from a variety of schools to come and spend the day in Oxford. Within this work we focus on supporting potential applicants from schools and areas that are currently under-represented at Oxford, and working with teachers and parents to help them support potential candidates.  

Encouraging applications from under-represented groups

We also run a series of events designed to open up access to Oxford for students from all over the country who are from state school (particularly non-selective state school), deprived, or otherwise underrepresented backgrounds at Oxford. These include:

  • An annual Medicine Outreach Day to which state school students interested in studying Medicine or Biomedical Sciences are invited. The day is hosted by our Outreach Officer and current Oriel students. In 2018 it took place on 10th February 2018 and 80 students attended.
  • A programme of subject-specific Study Days, targeted at Year 12 students from non-selective state schools. First piloted in 2016, these had 200 attendees in total, and out of those 200, around 100 went on to apply to Oxford. A number of students now at Oriel attended these days. Oriel is running a similar programme of Study Days in 2018, and the first two (in PPE and Biochemistry & Biomedical Sciences) took place over Easter, for which we welcomed 80 Year 12 state school students from around the UK (read a full report here). Three further Study Days are planned for the Summer vacation, and more information on those will be published soon.
  • Events and programmes designed to encourage applications from Black and Minority Ethnic students, who are under-represented at Oxford. In the past we have partnered with Excell3 (which runs the ‘Apex Universities Programme’, ‘YouCanXL’, and ‘Black Boys Can’). In 2018 we are participating in the Target Oxbridge summer school programme. Target Oxbridge is a free programme particularly aimed at UK-based black African and Caribbean students, or those with black African and Caribbean heritage. The programme provides practical support and advice to Year 12 students in the run up to their university application and beyond. More information about the programme can be found here.

How our student mix is changing

We are seeing encouraging progress in our strategy of encouraging more applications from under-represented groups, and this is feeding through into a more diverse undergraduate body. Oriel admits on average just fewer than 90 students per year, of whom typically 70 or so are from the UK. For 2017 we saw a substantial increase in the proportion of UK domiciled undergraduates from state schools, BME backgrounds, and ACORN category 4/5 postcodes (classified as ‘Financially Stretched’ or ‘Urban Adversity’ – read more about ACORN here).

Graphs showing data for Oriel applications and admissions between 2013 and 2017 can be viewed here.


This is what some of the students who have attended Oriel’s outreach events thought about the experience: 

“I had been really unsure if Oxford was somewhere I wanted to apply, or somewhere I’d be able to apply but, after watching the mock interview and participating in the seminar, I was surprised at how interactive the process is and how much I enjoyed (and managed to keep up with!) that style of debate. The Study Day reversed a lot of my fears about Oxford in a way that I really hadn’t expected it to.” – Student on Ancient Worlds 2016 Study Day

“I thought it was a beautiful College and I can definitely imagine living there! The way the lectures, seminars and tutorials work is very interesting and I think it’s a very well-thought-out system that would benefit students greatly. The College has a welcoming and friendly feel to it, so I’ve been given a definite motivation to apply to Oriel from this.” – Student on the Language and Literature 2016 Study Day


If you’re interesting in knowing more about Oriel’s Schools Liaison and Outreach work, have a look at our Outreach pages. You can also contact our Outreach Officer, India Collins-Davies on outreach@oriel.ox.ac.uk.