Hey. I just finished my studies under a two-year MPhil at Oxford, fully funded under a joint faculty (Classics) and college scholarship.
I have no idea about statistics for your target faculty (English, presumably) and the sitch is likely to vary a lot from faculty to faculty.
In terms of what you do now, there's no harm in saving up and frankly, you can't rely on getting funding, so I would say earn money if you can at all (you might only get partial funding, as well).
My advice would be as follows:-
- Are you aiming for/have you got a first at undergrad? I think for most master's degrees Oxford wants a first or at least a "strong upper second". Obviously a first is better.
- This is unlikely to be a strict numbers game, e.g. 'we don't consider anyone whose average marks was under 75' etc. As you can imagine, the assessors will look at your application in the round. So, while good grades are obviously important, I am not sure it's helpful to try and work out how they are used. I doubt that any rigid and systematic sifting process exists beyond what the course webpages say about the required grades for whatever degree course you're looking at.
- If you want to get funding you need to ensure your application shines in every possible way. (1) Did you get any awards or commendations, e.g. dean's list? Mention them prominently. (2) Have prestigious referees (if possible!) (3) Have a sexy research proposal - something that screams 'you will want to fund this because it's relevant, original and timely'. (4) Mention any side skills, aptitudes or aspects of your background which make you particularly apt to undertake the research you propose.
- If you want to clarify how much funding is available at the faculty you would be applying to, then ask a relevant person, e.g. whoever is in charge of graduate admissions. Either by email or at an open day. "How many of your master's intake get fully or partly funded by the university or a college?" should do it. (You really should go to a graduate open day at the faculty if you get the chance. And don't be afraid to ask lots of questions about funding. In my experience many people in your position don't have a clue about funding and don't ask about it. Don't be one of those people)
- Don't despair. The good thing about Oxford PG funding (although generally speaking, there's less available for master's degrees than for doctoral degrees) is that, moreso than Cambridge, the university is prepared to mix and match funding from different funding pots in order to ensure people get the amount of funding it seem they deserve. And they can surprise you. I was told about 2 out of 40 people in the faculty master's intake got full funding from the university or a college. Did I think I deserved to be in that 5%? Hell no. I'm nobody's idea of a perfect student. And yet, it happened.
If you want I can ask English faculty peeps for more info. Hope that helps.