Last year, Oxford University had more women than men begin their undergraduate careers for the first time. Source: Unsplash.com

University of Oxford made new history last year as it welcomed more women than men through its doors for the first time.

Oxford is respected as one of the best universities in the world but until last year there was a male-weighted imbalance in its student cohort.

This was rectified for the first time in its last intake, with offers made to 1,275 female 18-year-old applicants and 1,165 to male applicants last year, according to The Independent.

A total of 1,070 18-year-old female UK applicants to Oxford took places on undergraduate course in autumn 2017, compared with 1,025 men of the same age, reported The Guardian.

Among applicants of all ages from the UK, women also received more offers to study as undergraduates than men despite fewer applying than their male counterparts.

The number of British undergraduates of all ages taking up their places was split exactly with 1,275 men and women, according to official data released by The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCas).

This shift in gender dynamics is the latest progress in Oxford’s long-term effort to level the playing field according to The Guardian.

Oxford has been educating women since 1920 and all colleges have accepted men and women since 2016.

Ten of Oxford’s 38 colleges reportedly have women as their principals or heads, while the university appointed its first woman as vice-chancellor – Professor Louise Richardson – in 2016.

However, Oxford has been cautious to say that the admission of more women is here to stay based on only one year’s statistics.

“While it’s too early to call this a trend based on one year’s numbers, it is a welcome sign of progress for female applicants to Oxford,” said a spokesperson for Oxford.

The university has recently been shamed for alleged sexism against women as it allowed women more time to complete exams. This has sparked outrage over the inference women are not as intelligent or capable as their male peers.


Oxford has also marginally improved in its racial admissions, although they still remain staggeringly low, with 65 places out of 435 applicants being offered to black British students last year, compared with 55 the year before and 30 in 2012.

Clare Marchant, Ucas’s chief executive told The Guardian: “Our data shows overall that admissions are fair. Applicants from all backgrounds receive offers at rates which closely match the average for applicants to similar courses, with similar predicted grades.

“However, the data also show that, while progress continues to be made in widening participation, particularly at universities with a higher entry tariff, large disparities remain between the groups entering higher education generally, and at individual universities and colleges.”

Professor Les Ebdon, the Director of Fair Access to Higher Education for England, said the figures were a positive sign but warned that substantial gaps remained.

“The reasons behind these disparities are multiple and complex, and the challenge now for universities and colleges – as well as the new Office for Students – is to bring about a transformational step change in fair access. Incremental change is not enough for those students who are missing out,” Ebdon said.

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