Image credit: John Cairns
More than 40 state school students with African and Caribbean heritage are in Oxford as part of a new collaboration targeting ethnic minority students applying to Oxford University.
As part of the three-day residential event the Year 12 students will get an introduction to life during and after Oxford, including mentoring from current Oxford undergraduates. The students will all stay in St Edmund Hall and take part in academic workshops, and lectures led by Oxford tutors and research staff. They will visit laboratories and libraries of the University and meet alumni to hear about careers after graduation.
The event is run by the Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach office in partnership with Target Oxbridge, a programme run by diversity recruitment firm Rare which aims to help students with African and Caribbean heritage increase their chances of getting into the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge.
Awinnie Insua is an undergraduate studying engineering at St Catherine’s College, and is one of the Target Oxbridge student mentors. She says: 'I think it's important to play a part in encouraging confidence in kids that might think Oxbridge is unattainable, even with the right grades. Five years ago I was one of those students, but having made it to Oxford I think it’s really important as a student mentor to encourage others. Being in Oxford encourages you to broaden your horizons and challenges you in ways that aren't only academic, and that’s something the Target Oxbridge residential really gets across.'
Working with partner organisations such as Target Oxbridge that have substantial expertise and strong links with schools and communities will help us ensure the voices and opinions of BME students and their families are heard and addressed.
Dr Samina Khan, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach
Dr Samina Khan, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach at Oxford University, says: 'We are excited about our new collaboration with Target Oxbridge as an effective way of supporting and encouraging talented ethnic minority applicants to Oxford. Working with partner organisations such as Target Oxbridge that have substantial expertise and strong links with schools and communities will help us ensure the voices and opinions of BME students and their families are heard and addressed.
'Our current Oxford students are great ambassadors when it comes to addressing questions and concerns about life at Oxford, and along with recent alumni they will play an important role in encouraging and supporting the students taking part in residential programme.
'While Oxford is a popular choice for students from all backgrounds we know there are talented students who may not be considering us – we hope these initiatives will help shift the balance and put the benefits of an Oxford education on the agenda and within reach for more ethnic minority pupils.'
Naomi Kellman, Manager of Target Oxbridge, says: 'We are delighted that the University of Oxford has decided to partner with Rare by providing a residential for our Target Oxbridge students this year. The residential will help our students to picture themselves as future Oxbridge students, by providing them with access to tutors and the experience of living in an Oxford college.
'We expect that these new elements of the programme will help our students further develop the skills and subject understanding that they will need to make a successful application. It will also be an opportunity to do away with any of the myths surrounding the application process, and to give the students access to existing Oxford undergraduates who understand the concerns they might have. In addition, by supporting this residential the university is making it clear to our students that it is committed to improving the diversity of future intakes.'
The three-day Oxford residential is part of a year-long Target Oxbridge programme supporting students in their studies and through the admissions process for higher education. Academics and admissions staff from Oxford will also support this extended programme through subject-specific talks and masterclasses, and application support ahead of the 15 October admissions deadline.
In addition to its collaboration with Target Oxbridge, the University is undertaking further targeted outreach activity to support competitive applications from ethnic minority students includes. In addition to its annual conference for African and Caribbean students, a new conference targeted at British Asian students will take place in the Slough area with invitations to schools based in High Wycombe, Reading and West London and surrounding areas. The conference aims are to work with younger students (in years 10 and 11) and their teachers through supporting their A level and university course choices, as well as providing information and support on how to make competitive applications to undergraduate study at Oxford.
Oxford's Undergraduate Admission and Outreach office is also undertaking a collaborative research project with its partners in the Study Higher alliance (including Oxford Brookes, Reading and Buckinghamshire New universities). This will examine how to effectively raise aspiration and attainment of girls with Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds, who have historically had lower than average achievement in school relative to many other ethnic groups.