Education

A First at Oxford University: More Women Admitted Than Men

Oxford University. Credit: Pixabay

Oxford University. Credit: Pixabay

For the first time in its 800-year history, the University of Oxford admitted more women than men in undergraduate courses, according to official figures released on Thursday.

In 2017, a total of 1,275 women received offers from the world-famous institution, compared with 1,165 men.

“Out of them, 1,070 women achieved the grades required to secure their place, compared with 1,025 men who will start their courses in September this year,” according to the data released by the UK’s centralised universities admissions body, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

The university said that the new figures are “a welcome sign of progress for female applicants”.

Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. There is no clear date of foundation, but teaching existed at Oxford in some form in 1096 and developed rapidly from 1167, when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris, according to the Oxford University website.

Women were first admitted to male-only Oxford University when Lady Margaret Hall opened its doors as an all-women college in 1878.

However, it was not until the 1920s that women could become full members and were allowed to take degrees and not just attend lectures.

The university’s traditional rival, the University of Cambridge, had male applicants marginally ahead for the 2018 academic year – 1,440 women to 1,405 men. The university made more offers to women aged over 18, although fewer took up the places.

Related equalities data from the UCAS also showed an improvement among the more selective universities in recruiting students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“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,” said UCAS chief executive Clare Marchant.

“However, these 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,” she warned.

Both universities have continued to see a fall in the gap between entry rates for the most and least advantaged young people. In 2012, 26.6% of applications from the richest segment were successful at Oxford University, dropping to 24.9% last year. At Cambridge University, it has dropped from 37% to 32.3%.

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