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University of Oxford and BARBRI launch the Widening Participation scholarship

St Cross Building, University of Oxford
Image: St Cross Building which houses the Faculty of Law at the University of Oxford

The University of Oxford and BARBRI have announced plans to improve diversity and access to the legal profession with the launch of a Widening Participation scholarship.

The Russell Group university is joining forces with the global legal education provider, BARBRI, to offer candidates this merit and needs-based scholarship.

Available to the university’s law students from the Autumn 2022 term, successful candidates will receive a £5,000 third-year bursary; will serve as a BARBRI ambassador, and upon graduation, their BARBRI SQE Prep course fees and assessment fees will be fully funded by BARBRI.

Mindy Chen-Wishart, Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Oxford, said: “The introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Exam will broaden opportunities for candidates from all backgrounds.

“With the launch of the Widening Participation scholarship, we’re working to support our students beyond their university experience, preparing them for qualification via the SQE.”

This announcement follows a recent analysis by the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) that analysed higher education institutions in England concerning their contribution to social mobility. It highlighted that universities could be doing more to help graduates find rewarding careers.

The University of Oxford continues to identify new ways of supporting its students through university life and beyond, and its collaboration with BARBRI is one such initiative.

Chris Jorgenson, BARBRI Senior Director of Institutional Partnerships, said: “When the SRA introduced the Solicitors Qualifying Exam, there was hope that this would help to improve diversity in the legal profession.

“However, this cannot happen without the support of providers like ourselves, universities and additional third parties. Realising genuine social change requires committed buy-in from stakeholders across the profession.”

In 2021, BARBRI launched its BARBRI Bridges funding initiative to improve diversity and inclusion in the legal sector. With numerous partnerships secured and £75,000 already pledged, the Widening Participation scholarship is the latest programme to be launched as part of this activity.

Jorgenson added: “We’re proud to be joining forces with the University of Oxford to continue our efforts to improve access to qualification in the legal sector.

“Together we’re working to create a legal profession that is more representative of society today, and we’re looking forward to seeing the first successful candidate start this journey.”

Visit the BARBRI website to learn more about BARBRI and their comprehensive suite of learning solutions for higher education institutions and law-related businesses.

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