Equality objectives

The Equality Act places all public bodies under an active duty to promote equality and requires them to set themselves at least one objective which they believe they ought to meet in order to fulfil the aims of the Public Sector Equality Duty.

The University has agreed a suite of equality objectives for 2016-20, reflecting Oxford’s strategic priorities in relation to recruitment, progression and equality of opportunity, as set out in the Strategic Plan.

Please see the University’s annual Equality Report for an overview of our progress towards our equality objectives and data on current staff and students, recruitment and admissions.  


    The University is committed to increasing the proportion of women in academic, leadership and governance roles across the collegiate University. In order to demonstrate its commitment to achieving a meaningful increase in the representation of women, the University set ambitious targets in March 2015. It recognises that these are challenging, particularly given the low turnover in academic roles at Oxford. The University is currently implementing a range of measures to support women's career development and progression under its institutional Athena SWAN action plan. 

    Targets for 2016 - 2020

    (i) To achieve a yearly increase in the proportion of female Professors, with 30% representation by 2020;

    (ii) To achieve a yearly increase in the proportion of female Statutory Professors, with 20% representation by 2020;

    (iii) To achieve a yearly increase in the proportion of female Associate Professors, with 35% representation by 2020;

    (iv) To achieve one third representation of women across University leadership roles including but not limited to heads of department and senior management teams;

    (v) Selection committees to aim for a representation of at least one third women. In disciplines where the proportion of female academic staff is below a third, departments should seek to achieve female representation by other means, including the use of external panel members and female research staff;

    (vi) Women to comprise a minimum of 30% of members of Council and each of its main committees (Education, Personnel, Research and Innovation, Planning and Resource Allocation, and General Purposes Committees);

    (vii) Half of the final list of names proposed to Congregation for the conferment of honorary degrees to be women and/or members of minority groups.


    In the context of its work on the Race Equality Charter action plan, the University will propose targets for the recruitment and representation of BME staff as relevant.


    The University will continue to analyse data and develop action plans to address all identified areas of inequality in respect of students. In addition to its institution-wide objectives in relation to gender, race and sexual orientation, the University aims to achieve the following:

    Targets for 2016 - 2020

    (i) To increase the percentage of UK undergraduate students at Oxford from schools and colleges that historically have had limited progression to Oxford from 13% (based on the average of the years 2011/12 to 2013/14), to at least 15.9% in 2019/20.

    (ii) To increase the percentage from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds (ACORN postcodes 4 and 5) from 6.6% in 2012/13, and from an estimated figure of 8.2% in 2016/17, to at least 9.5% in 2019/20.

    (iii) To increase the percentage from neighbourhoods with low participation in higher education (POLAR3 postcodes 1 and 2) from 9.8% in 2012/13, and from an estimated figure of 10.0% in 2016/17, to at least 13.0% in 2019/20.

    (iv) To ensure that the proportion of UK undergraduate students with declared disabilities or specific learning difficulties (regardless of whether they receive the DSA) at the University does not drop below the current level of 8.8% (based on the average of the years 2011/12 to 2013/14).

    Target (v) relates to the University’s partnership with the Oxford South-East IntoUniversity centre and is not directly relevant to equality and diversity at the University of Oxford.

    Please see the University's Access and Participation Plan for full details of the range of activity and expenditure across the University to diversify access to Oxford and widen participation in higher education.

    The University publishes detailed undergraduate admissions statistics on the application and success rates of students in each target group.

    In addition to these overarching equality objectives, the University has committed to achieve the following:

    • Apply successfully for an institutional Silver Athena SWAN award in 2017, approved by Council 14 March 2016 
    • Apply successfully for an institutional Bronze Race Equality Charter award in 2017-18, approved by Council 14 March 2016 
    • Consolidate our position in the Stonewall Top 100 Employers list, approved by Council 15 July 2019


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