Centre for Research in Education at Oxford (CredOx)

Pembroke is one of the most dynamic of the Oxford Colleges, with a forward-looking Fellowship, strong leadership, ambitious and clear academic plans, a friendly and welcoming environment. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is therefore also the proud host of several research groups. Academics at all stages of their careers enjoy our interdisciplinary atmosphere - many an interesting research collaboration has emerged from a lunchtime conversation here. The newest of the Research Centres – CredOx – is the result of just such a cross-discipline collaboration between small groups of Pembroke Fellows eager to apply academic methodologies to questions increasingly and erroneously thought to be the exclusive preserve of university administrators or government bureaucrats. 

The Centre for Research in Education at Oxford (CredOx) employs an interdisciplinary, data-driven approach to examine questions surrounding access to, inclusion within, and attainment at higher education institutions, to deepen understanding and inform policy taken decisions at the school, college, university, and national levels.  It focuses on these issues as they pertain to leading research universities (such as the Russell Group in the UK and comparable institutions globally), and Oxford and Cambridge in particular.  It evaluates the effectiveness of access programmes, university extension schemes, and other efforts to increase the recruitment of talented students from diverse backgrounds to leading universities, while simultaneously seeking to understand and comment upon the policy landscape that is the background to this process. 

In this endeavour, we remain mindful of three challenges as set out by our 2021 Access Strategy: 

  • Selection problem (the difficulty of identifying talent given the impact of socio-economic and educational disadvantage on raw attainment data) 

  • Legacy problem (the fact that even with improvements in selection data some able pupils have suffered so much educational disadvantage that they are not able to make a competitive application) 

  • Missing cohorts (the fact that some able pupils do not apply to Pembroke or Oxford for a variety of reasons including underprediction of their A levels. Many members of these missing cohorts would enhance the diversity of our student body) 

In addition, we are mindful of these challenges being driven by stark regional disparities as London, the South East and the South West of England make up a disproportionate share of UK applications and admittance to Oxford. Our OxNet programmes make strenuous and targeted efforts to re-balance this inequity, while the context of this work is embedded in our efforts to understand the interplay between geography and disadvantage that ends up restricting opportunities for quality higher education. 

CredOx, in tandem with OxNet, aims to identify and nurture the most academically able pupils from Key Stages 2-5 maintaining an awareness of current education policies and curriculum. At the same time, CredOx intends to address the Office for Students (OfS) requirements on pupil attainment and pupil preparation for undergraduate admissions and study. 

Pembroke will ‘Drive Access and Outreach, and gather data to inform our processes to attract the most academically able into our community’.