Graduate access: support for disadvantaged UK students

Under the proposals, students who receive high levels of financial support at undergraduate level will be exempt from the £75 graduate application fee from the 20/21 admissions round (for 21/22 entry). They will also benefit from tailored support through the application process, including webinars and online advice.

The proposals were endorsed on 31 January following recommendations put forward by the Graduate Access Working Group, formed in May 2019 to help increase access to graduate study at Oxford.

Expand All

A number of graduate access initiatives are already in place in Oxford. These include an application fee waiver scheme for prospective students from low income countries (as defined by the World Bank); and the development new matched fundraising scheme, which will increase the number of graduate scholarships available.

The University has also launched graduate access programmes including UNIQ+ and Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholarships. These schemes provide paid summer research internships for students from groups with low progression to postgraduate study, giving them the chance to experience graduate study at Oxford. Around 100 placements have been offered by departments in 2020. Those taking part, as well as those who have been unsuccessful but whose application was deemed of a good quality will benefit from an application fee waiver.

The extension of application fee waivers to UK applicants will be introduced in the 2020/21 application cycle for 21/22 entry. Waivers will apply to UK residents who received highest levels of mean-tested financial support during their undergraduate degree (as defined by Student Finance). Longer term, the Graduate Access Working Group may consider extending the application fee waiver to socio-economically disadvantaged applicants from other countries.

More support will also be offered to disadvantaged applicants to help them make competitive applications. This will focus on digital guidance, particularly aimed at students who might not be able to travel to Oxford.

Other graduate access proposals endorsed by Education Committee include consulting with divisions to establish fundraising priorities for graduate access; exploring the use of contextual data to support admissions decisions; and dedicating time to analysing the socio-economic make-up of the graduate applicant and student population.

Professor Martin Williams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Education said: 'The University is absolutely committed to increasing access to study at Oxford, regardless of students’ backgrounds. We have already made a large amount of progress at undergraduate level, and it is positive that the Graduate Access Working Group is now starting to make inroads at a graduate level too.

'I am pleased that we are able to extend fee waivers and support for UK students. Alongside our existing waiver schemes, development priorities, and graduate access programmes, they will help unlock access to the exceptional education that graduate level study at Oxford provides.'

A Congregation debate will take on Tuesday 10 March related to the graduate application fee. The University’s current policy is to charge an application fee and to offer waivers and additional support for students from disadvantaged backgrounds as appropriate. Further information can be found on the Gazette website.