Incoming and returning students celebrated the new academic year with a welcome dinner at Exeter College, Oxford University last week.
The event was organised by the University’s Undergraduate Admissions & Outreach team to celebrate the new cohort of UK undergraduates from Black African, Caribbean and Mixed Black African or Caribbean heritage – which includes 21 participants from the Target Oxbridge residential programme.
Each year a number of activities are organised by colleges, departments and faculties to support new students to adjust to university life, make friends and feel at home at Oxford. The welcome dinner was designed to compliment these events and encourage new students to build relationships with those in other years and colleges, while also giving an opportunity to find out more about the access and wellbeing programmes available.
A total of 67 people attended the dinner, where new undergraduates had the opportunity to mingle with representatives from student organisations, the Student Union, Outreach Student ambassadors and staff including Gill Aitken, Registrar, and Dr Samina Khan, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach.
Effie Armah-Tettah, a first year student studying Classics at Corpus Cristi College said: ‘I was nervous about starting at Oxford, but from the second I arrived everyone has been so friendly it’s really surprised me. I love my college, it’s beautiful without being overwhelmingly big. The African and Caribbean Society (ACS) organises great events that make it easier for you to meet people like you. The VP of the ACS is at my college and she has really helped me to adjust as my mentor – but more than that, my friend.’ Of the event itself, she said: ‘I had no idea that the University organised event’s like this, and I really appreciate it. Sitting in this beautiful college in a room full of people like me, makes you realise you’re not in this alone.’
In recent years Oxford has worked consistently to build a more inclusive university environment, where individuals of all backgrounds feel welcomed, valued and respected. Vanessa Worthington, Outreach Solutions Coordinator (BAME Projects), noted: ‘Thanks to a number of targeted outreach measures the University is now attracting more black and minority ethnic students than ever before. And events such as this highlight the importance of widening access to the University and supporting students when they are arrive’.
While giving the dinner’s commencement speech Dr Samina Khan, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach, said: ‘At Oxford a lot is said about the importance of encouraging access, but we don’t often give enough attention to celebrating the achievements of the students who successfully apply to Oxford University. Tonight we simply wanted to celebrate you and let you know how delighted we are that you have chosen us. We hope that you are going to love your time at Oxford.’