Students in Oxford

Oxford has two large universities – the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University – whose students tend not to live in Oxford all year round but migrate in and out according to the university term times. The city also has students studying at other institutions and a number of short-term students who visit the universities and language schools. 

There are four main sources of information about students in the city. 

2011 Census

The 2011 Census gives us information about full-time students who lived in Oxford in 2011. Information about the type of courses being studied by full-time students was not collected in the 2011 Census, so this data includes students from universities, schools, colleges and other educational establishments. The size of the two universities (see below) means that the majority of full-time adult students recorded in the Census would have been studying at one of them.

  • At the 2011 Census, 24% of the city's adult population was a full-time student (30,000 people) – the highest proportion in England and Wales.
  • Around one-third of full-time students were born outside the UK.
  • Oxford's student population is so large that its out of term population (where students and school children are at their “home” address) is 10% below its usually resident population.
  • Of the 30,000 full-time adult students who lived in Oxford at the 2011 Census, just over half lived in communal establishments such as halls of residence. 7,500 lived in all-student households, whilst the rest lived alone, with their parents, or with other non-students. Between 2001 and 2011 the number of full-time students increased by 6,000, and the majority of this increase was accommodated in halls of residence.

Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA)

HESA provides information about students who are enrolled for study at Oxford's universities. It doesn't tell us whether the students study or live in the city – they may be studying at another location, or living outside the city (Oxford Brookes has three campuses outside the city boundary):

  • In 2020/21, there were 35,250 students enrolled for full-time study at the two universities (Oxford University and Oxford Brookes University). 24,635 were undergraduates (split almost equally between the two universities); 10,615 were postgraduates (the majority at the University of Oxford). 
  • In addition, there were 9,695 students enrolled for part-time study, with about two thirds of these at the University of Oxford.

Annual Monitoring Report

The City Council's Annual Monitoring Report is used to monitor the implementation of a variety of planning policies. As part of this, the two universities submit student statistics in order to monitor the number of full-time students living in Oxford outside of university-provided accommodation. The latest figures (2020-21) report that Oxford Brookes University has 8,164 full-time students needing accommodation in Oxford in any given academic year (who weren't previously resident anyway) and the University of Oxford has 14,164. Around 2,873 Oxford Brookes University and 1,009 University of Oxford students live outside of university-provided accommodations.

Universities UK Accommodation Code of Practice

There are three codes of practice for the higher education sector, one of which is the Universities UK Code of Practice for University Managed Student Accommodation. The University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University are registered with Universities UK, which provides a list of buildings used by the two universities for the purpose of providing student accommodations. Based on the 2021 dataset, 19,513 students are housed in a variety of university-owned buildings between the two universities.


Census tables on full-time students, 2011 Census

Full-time students by accommodation type, 2011 Census

Students enrolled at Oxford's universities, HESA


Evolution of Oxford's student population - December 2018

Student Numbers in Oxford Report - April 2012