Published: Thursday, 3 November 2022

Oxford’s population has grown by 6.7% since 2011 and continues to be predominantly working age with a 7% increase in people born overseas, according to the latest census data release.

Oxford’s national and international reputation attracts migrants from across the UK and the world, with the highest represented non-English groups coming from India (3,601), USA (3,070), Poland (2,773), China (2,565), Pakistan (2,558), Germany (2,023) - and Scotland (2,041).

The picture in Oxford reflects national trends on migration, with an overall growth in migration for England and Wales of around 2.5million since the 2011 census, from 7.5million to 10million residents born overseas.

The number of EU-born residents in Oxford is 1% higher than ten years ago. As the period covers the Brexit referendum and implementation, this change may mask a pre-referendum growth followed by a reduction in the number of EU citizens in Oxford.

The majority of the population is aged 18-40, with a very high proportion in the 18-22 age group, as would be expected for a university city.


The age of arrival of migrants is mainly in the 20-44 age range, suggesting that people are coming to the city to work and study. Oxford has high employment rates and internationally prestigious universities, so migration for work and study is to be expected.

The majority of people born overseas are migrants rather than refugees, as indicated by their country of birth. A large proportion are from across the EU, or from countries such as India, Pakistan and the USA. Oxford’s two universities and its large NHS and social care sector are both significant areas that attract overseas workers and students.

Currently around 500 refugees in Oxford have arrived via the Homes for Ukraine scheme and Resettlement schemes. Services provided by the council and its partners include supported private sector tenancies, bespoke settlement support, legal, employment and mental health support.

Refugees and asylum seekers arriving through other routes are also supported by local organisations that receive council grant funding, such as Asylum Welcome and Refugee Resource. These organisations provide help for a wide range of refugee needs, from applying for asylum to counselling services.

The City Council has supported EU citizens to apply for residency after Brexit, including an awareness raising partnership with Asylum Welcome who support those with more complex cases, language or technology issues to apply for settled status.

Oxford City Council reaffirmed its commitment to be a City of Sanctuary in July 2019.

Strong communities

The data released this week also includes information on households, which shows that as the population density in the city has increased by 222 people per square kilometre to 3553 people. Comparing this to other districts in the county, population density ranges from 273.5 (Cherwell) to 159.9 (West Oxfordshire) per square kilometre.

The City Council invests to support residents and build strong communities in a diverse and busy city. Community centres, community grants, events, leisure and green spaces provide shared facilities and shared experiences that promote understanding and respect between different communities.

The council’s Community Impact Fund allocates around £420,000 to community projects; the council provides many of the 19 community centres across the city; the council owns or manages many parks, playgrounds and leisure centres that benefit residents; the Youth Ambition team supports young people from all backgrounds through its youth clubs, holiday activities and young leaders programme. The council also works in partnership with community organisations to support residents, from help with the cost of living, to tackling health inequalities, to celebrating cultural events.

“Oxford has always been rightly proud of our international reputation and our ability to draw talent to our city. Our economy has positive global impact, addressing many worldwide challenges through science and technology. Recently this includes the vaccines developed here and many low carbon innovations. Little wonder that people from around the world want to be part of our city.

“We’re proud to be a diverse and welcoming place, but it also brings challenges. We need to keep working across all communities to make sure everyone is included and supported. That means fair access to our services and planning for different future needs. The city’s diversity is also testament to the hard work of all communities to live well together.

“Migration provides an essential part of our workforce – whether they are highly skilled NHS staff or researchers or providing other vital frontline services to the people of Oxford. One way or another we all rely on the services they provide.

“This data shows how important it is to understand that the city is always changing - our success will be based on how well we plan and adjust for that change.”

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council 

The census data was collected in March 2021 when the UK and many other countries were in pandemic restrictions


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