Oxford University has today unveiled two access schemes which will enable more academically talented students from under-represented backgrounds to apply successfully to study.
The combined impact of the ambitious programmes represents a major progression for the University. The two new programmes – Opportunity Oxford and Foundation Oxford – aim to increase significantly the number of most promising students from groups who are currently under-represented in Oxford. Opportunity Oxford is aimed at students from more disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. Foundation Oxford will be open to students who have personally experienced severe disadvantage or educational disruption.
When fully up and running, these major new programmes will offer transformative paths to outstanding education for up to 250 state school students a year, representing 10% of Oxford’s UK undergraduate intake. This represents a significant step-change for the University, boosting the proportion of students coming to Oxford from under-represented backgrounds from 15% of the current UK intake to 25%.
The schemes offer students the chance to immerse themselves in the Oxford environment, developing their study skills and their subject knowledge. The students will benefit from the University’s internationally outstanding teaching facilities while living and studying in a college community. By the end of their programmes, they will have developed the confidence to meet the challenges of a demanding undergraduate degree. Both schemes will be free and students’ residential and living costs will be fully funded throughout the courses.
The Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, Professor Louise Richardson, said: ‘This is a sea change in Oxford admissions. Colleagues from across the University, its colleges and departments have united behind a commitment to accelerate the pace at which we are diversifying our student body and ensuring that every academically exceptional student in the country knows that they have a fair chance of a place at Oxford.’
Opportunity Oxford will see the University introduce a residential study programme for up to 200 students who have applied to the University in the normal way and are on course to gain the required grades but need additional support to transition successfully from school to Oxford. These students may have narrowly missed out on a place in previous years. Opportunity Oxford will comprise structured study at home plus two weeks of residential study at Oxford just before the start of the undergraduate term. The course will introduce students to lectures, tutorials and group and individual work, building their subject knowledge, academic abilities and self-reliance. Students will then begin undergraduate study with greater confidence, new friends and familiarity with university life.
Foundation Oxford is a full-year programme to be offered to students who have experienced personal disadvantage or severely disrupted education. The scheme aims to open up places to students with high academic potential who, for reasons beyond their control, are not yet in a position to make a competitive Oxford application. Eligible students could include refugees and children in care or with care responsibilities themselves. Once in operation, offers for Foundation Oxford will be made based on lower contextual A-level grades, rather than the University’s standard offers. Successful students will undertake a year-long, bespoke, subject-specific programme, building their capacity for independent study. The participants will all be based at Oxford colleges and, provided they successfully complete the programme, will move on to the Oxford undergraduate degree that they initially applied for.