Opportunity Oxford | University of Oxford
students walking to a college
Opportunity Oxford students walking to a college.
(Credit: Edmund Blok)

Opportunity Oxford

Opportunity Oxford is an ambitious academic programme that helps to prepare talented UK offer-holders from under-represented backgrounds for successful student careers at our university.  

Daniel Dipper"The best thing was getting to meet like-minded people. Many of the people who I met on the programme are still some of my closest friends at Oxford! It's great to know people across different colleges and to forge friendships before starting my degree. The programme was so useful for understanding what is expected of me on my course, how to engage in a tutorial, how to approach essay writing, how to use the library system and for getting to know the city. When I initially received the letter about Opportunity Oxford,  I wasn't sure of the purpose of the programme, but then I saw I was being provided with an extra opportunity to get ready for my degree. The programme was incredibly fun, and I am so glad I got this opportunity." Daniel, History and Politics

Under the programme, selected Oxford offer-holders participate in an academic bridging programme which supports them in their transition from school or college to our university. The programme explores and develops high-level academic skills that support the success of participants in their further studies. Opportunity Oxford also gives an insight into what life as an Oxford student is like so, when participants arrive to start their degree course, they can feel confident and know exactly what is expected of them and what to expect from Oxford. We hope that the programme will be enjoyable and rewarding and will give participants a great start to their university careers. 

In 2020, the first year of the programme, we made more than 100 offers under Opportunity Oxford. For entry in 2021, we expect to increase the number of offers made under Opportunity Oxford to around 170. 

About Opportunity Oxford - Video Transcript

Opportunity Oxford Welcome Day - Video Transcript

Are there any differences between an Opportunity Oxford offer and all other undergraduate offers to study at Oxford?

Opportunity Oxford students are made the standard offer for their course and are admitted on the same rigorous basis as all other students. Once they begin their degree, they follow an identical degree programme, receive the same tuition, are assessed according to the same criteria and are awarded a degree on the same basis as all other students.  

The distinct feature of receiving an offer under the programme is that students participate in the bridging programme during the summer before the start of their degree. We are confident that following this programme will be a really worthwhile and enjoyable experience and we are sure that students will gain valuable skills to take with them as they embark on their degree. 

What does the programme involve?

Opportunity Oxford timeline

Opportunity Oxford has three key components;

  1. a welcome day in February
  2. an online academic course during the summer
  3. a two-week residential in Oxford in September, before term starts.

students at an Opportunity Oxford eventStudents at the Opportunity Oxford welcome day.
All Opportunity Oxford offer-holders, together with a member of their family or guardian, are warmly invited to a welcome day in February. This gives participants a chance to meet each other and speak with our student ambassadors, some of whom have been on the programme themselves. You can also talk to academic staff who teach on the programme, hear from representatives from Oxford colleges and find out more.

The online course begins in early July and consists of structured, in-depth, problem-based academic tasks. These tasks take around two weeks to complete, but participants are given eight weeks in which to do so. The timetable for the online work is deliberately flexible, so that participants are able to fit this work around a job or a holiday. All necessary materials are provided online and students will have access to academic support and ongoing feedback.

During the September residential, students build on the work they completed earlier in the summer. They undertake both classroom and independent work, experience lectures and tutorials and, where appropriate, practical work too. Alongside the academic work, students have time to settle into university life and get to know each other through social activities. Meeting other students, making friends and learning from each other's experiences are very valuable parts of the programme.

Jacques Marquis"For me, being able to form lasting friendships was the most enjoyable and memorable part of the residential. The online section really helped me build an intuition for my subject which has proved invaluable so far! Don't think of it as another task you have to complete to earn your place - you've already earned it! Instead, think of it as an opportunity to get a head start on experiencing university life, meeting people from other colleges and getting a feel for how content might be delivered. When I received my offer, I was confused about why I was selected for the programme. However, looking back I'm very glad I had an opportunity to experience university life ahead of the first term and become more familiar with the city."   Jacques, Mathematics

What colleges and courses take part in Opportunity Oxford? 

The programme is available at all of Oxford's undergraduate colleges. 

For 2021-entry, the programme will be available in the following courses and participants on Opportunity Oxford will take part in one of these streams:

  • Humanities Programme: for students who will be studying Classics, Classical Archaeology and Ancient History, English Language and Literature, History, Modern Languages, Theology and Religion.
  • Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences (MPLS) Programme: for students who will be studying Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth Sciences, Engineering Science, Materials Science, Mathematics. 
  • Medical Sciences Programme: for students who will be studying Biochemistry, Biology, Experimental Psychology, Biomedical Sciences, Medicine. 
  • Social Sciences Programme: for students who will be studying Economics and Management, Law, Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

Student headshotThe best thing about the programme was the friends I met. Also, the practicals and lab work gave me a chance to get used to the different equipment and techniques, which proved to be a great asset when I started my course in October. I really recommend that you see the programme as a chance to set a solid foundation and to help you to be well prepared for your university career. Also, spend the right amount of time and effort on the distance learning course as it may open many areas of interest that you may have not been exposed to before.” Shathuki, Biology

Who is eligible for Opportunity Oxford?

Students in a lecture theatreOpportunity Oxford students in lecture theatre.
The University of Oxford is looking for students with the highest academic potential, whatever their background. To be eligible for Opportunity Oxford, students will be on track to meet the academic requirements of their chosen Oxford course and will come from either an area with low progression to higher education or an area of socio-economic disadvantage, or both. 

In common with many other universities, Oxford defines progression rates and socio-economic disadvantage according to standard national data, and a student’s eligibility under one or other of these considerations is determined simply by their residential postcode. For Opportunity Oxford, we prioritise students who have more than one marker of under-representation, and we take account of such other factors as the proportion of students at a candidate’s school or college who are entitled to free school meals, and the average academic performance of their current and previous schools or colleges.

We know that currently students from some backgrounds are not as well-represented at Oxford as they should be and we are determined to improve on this. This programme is a key step in achieving that ambition and in our commitment to access.  You can read more about our commitment to diversifying Oxford

Student headshotBefore going on Opportunity Oxford, I had reservations about leaving home, and whether I wanted to leave home early to go university. However, I found that going on Opportunity Oxford was an enriching and eye-opening experience as to what university life is like.  When I was at Opportunity Oxford, I had lectures everyday on weekdays as well as practicals and an essay. This meant that the start of term was much less daunting to me, and it was so much easier to get used to life in Oxford.”   Harsimran, Biomedical Sciences

How can I participate?

All you have to do is apply to Oxford through UCAS in the normal way. If you are eligible, you will automatically be considered for a place on Opportunity Oxford. You will know if you are successful in receiving an offer from Oxford and a place on Opportunity Oxford in January, and at the same time as all our offers for undergraduate study are made every year.

If you are successful in gaining an offer under Opportunity Oxford, then we would like to congratulate you wholeheartedly! We look forward to welcoming you onto the programme. 

Further questions? 

If you are a current Opportunity Oxford offer-holder with questions about the programme, please get in touch at opportunityoxford@admin.ox.ac.uk.

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