Oxbridge candidates will not have face-to-face interviews this year, as universities move them online

Camilla Turner
 Each year, Oxford colleges usually invite around 10,000 applicants from around the world for interviews

Oxford and Cambridge candidates will no longer do face-to-face interviews this year, as the universities move them online.

Prospective students will be interviewed remotely in December in order to limit the number of applicants travelling to the universities.

A spokesman for Oxford University said this decision was taken “in light of the ongoing concerns with the global Covid-19 pandemic” adding that their priority is to protect students, staff and the wider community.

Each year, Oxford colleges usually invite around 10,000 applicants from around the world for interviews which take place during a two week period in December.

Meanwhile, Cambridge said that candidates will not be asked to travel to the university for interviews this year “in order to minimise Covid-related risks”.  

Many other British universities interview potential students, although they do not usually require students to stay overnight as Oxford and Cambridge do.  

Most medicine courses require candidates to take part in "multi-mini-interviews" where applicants rotate around stations to test different skills.  

Oxford and Cambridge interviews take place each year in December, with offers made in early January, but most other institutions hold interviews between January and March.  

The Ucas early application deadline for Oxbridge, which is in October, also applies to many competitive science courses like medicine, veterinary medicine and dentistry.  

Those courses often require candidates to attend an interview, regardless of the university, while offers for humanities subjects at non-Oxbridge universities are usually made based on students' predicted grades and UCAS forms.

Imperial College London, University College London, York, Bournemouth, Exeter and Bristol universities all interview students for some subjects.

Earlier this year, Cambridge University announced that there will be no "face-to-face lectures" next academic year.  

The 800-year-old university said that since it is likely that social distancing measures will continue, lectures will take place virtually instead.

Tutorials and smaller classes could take place in person, provided they can "conform to social distancing requirements".  

Prof Louise Richardson, Oxford’s vice-Chancellor told students earlier this month that lectures and other large group teaching will take place online but smaller groups will be taught face-to-face with tutors.

An Oxford University spokesman said: “Interviews are a key part of forming  a nuanced understanding of a student’s potential to flourish at Oxford and online interviews are already used with applicants for whom it is difficult to travel to Oxford.

“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.”

Cambridge University said online interviews will be set up in a way that ensures the “best possible experience” for applicants.