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Oxford Shifts Interviews Online for 2021 Admissions

JUL 03, 2020 • 7 min read

In light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, Oxford University has made the announcement to shift its admissions interviews online for its courses starting in 2021.

The University of Oxford’s traditional admission interviews are a famous and long-standing ritual. Each December, about 10,000 candidates from around the world travel to the UK and are interviewed by representatives of the University. They are assessed for their academic capabilities and their potential to flourish at Oxford!

Many of the students are also given the opportunity to stay in one of the prestigious colleges overnight, giving them a further taste of what student life will be like, should they be accepted. Within weeks, students are notified of whether or not they have been successful in their application.

This year things will be very different. In December, students will take their interviews at home through video-conferencing software rather than in-person, in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.

An Oxford spokesman said: "It is in light of the ongoing concerns with the global Covid-19 pandemic and our priority to protect the wellbeing of our applicants, students, staff and the wider community, that we have taken the decision to move to online admissions interviews in December 2020. We are mindful though that extra support might be needed for some students and are working hard to put this in place, but we are confident that this move will allow us to continue to recruit talented students from all backgrounds.”

Many students may feel disappointed about missing the opportunity to visit and stay at an Oxford college during the interview period, which is understandable. But in the end, an Oxford education is such a life-changing and valuable commodity that adjusting the interview process may be a small price to pay for what will reap a lifetime of benefits.

As for Cambridge, the university has hinted that they might follow Oxford’s example and move interviews online, but the university is yet to make an official announcement.

What will this mean for the applications?

This decision could be said to slightly change the dynamic of the interviews. On one hand, people often speak about how confronting a physical interview can be, and being able to sit the interview on camera in their own homes may help them feel less nervous. But on the other hand, some students may worry that the on-camera shift may result in a lack of personal connection with their interviewers.

But most importantly it is important for students to know that no matter how interviews are conducted, the university understands that this is an uncertain time for all students and will do all they can to make the interview process as fair and comfortable as possible. The fact is, Oxford has offered online interview options for many years to students who had difficulty travelling to the UK, and as such are used to engaging with students in this way.

Regardless of the nature of the interaction, students should still spend lots of time preparing. At Crimson, our UK applicants work very closely with their interview mentors engaging in mock interview training and question prep with experts who have successfully negotiated Oxford and Cambridge interviews themselves. Check out Oxford interview advice from 10 admitted students here.

Did you know that Crimson Education students' are accepted to Oxford at 2-4x the average admission rate? Crimson will assist you with every part of the application process: from school subject and course specific test tutoring, to personal statement composition and interview preparation. Find out more about our Admission Support service.

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