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

Opportunity Oxford

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

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. This ambitious 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. Last year, we made over 170 offers. For entry in 2022, we expect to increase the number of offers made under Opportunity Oxford to around 200.

"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. Being part of the programme, I began to see it as an opportunity that allows all students to be at a level playing field before starting their distinct courses, and that all students have been offered a place because they are all equally worthy of it. The 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." Shathuki, Biology

About Opportunity Oxford - 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. 

"We know that adapting to the fast-paced nature of undergraduate study at Oxford can be demanding for any new student. The programme will help you to acclimatise to your new academic environment and to experiment with new working methods before beginning your degree in earnest. Previous participants have found the programme very helpful, and they tell us that it has given them a huge boost in their studies. You could think of it as a chance to learn how to be an undergraduate student at Oxford." Dr Andrew Bell, Opportunity Oxford Programme Coordinator 

What does the programme involve?

Opportunity Oxford timeline

Opportunity Oxford has three key components;

  1. a welcome day online event in February.
  2. an online academic course in the summer during July and August, before receiving your results and confirmation of your place at Oxford.
  3. a two-week residential in Oxford in September, before term starts in October.

Please see the tabs at the top of this page to find out more about each one. 

A student in subfusc“Coming from a state school in Liverpool I was worried that I would not fit the stereotypical ‘Oxford type’ that you hear about. I will admit that when I received my offer, I was confused at the idea of a bridging programme; in some ways I felt as though I had to ‘prove my worth’ but in hindsight I can assure any future students that this is not the case! I am grateful that I was given an Opportunity Oxford offer as the programme overall gave me an insight into life at university. I would encourage anyone who has received an Opportunity Oxford offer to think of it literally as an invaluable ‘opportunity’ that only few get the chance to experience!” Faye, Ancient and Modern History

What colleges and courses take part in Opportunity Oxford? 

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

For 2022-entry, the programme will be available in the following courses (including joint courses) and participants on Opportunity Oxford will follow one of these streams:

Students in a lecture theatreOpportunity Oxford students in lecture theatre.

  • Humanities Programme: for students who will be studying Archaeology and Anthropology, Classics, Classical Archaeology and Ancient History, English Language and Literature, Fine Art, History, History of Art, Modern Languages, Oriental Studies, PPL (depending on course combination), 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, Physics.
  • Medical Sciences Programme: for students who will be studying Biochemistry, Biology, Biomedical Sciences, Experimental Psychology, Medicine, PPL (depending on course combination).
  • Social Sciences Programme: for students who will be studying Economics and Management, Geography, Human Sciences, Law, and Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE).

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.

Who takes part in Opportunity Oxford?

students at an Opportunity Oxford eventStudents at an Opportunity Oxford event.
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

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.

Offers made to applicants on the Opportunity Oxford programme are made on the same rigorous basis as all others. The programme aims to smooth the transition to university from school or college so participants ​have the best possible start to their undergraduate career at Oxford. 

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. 

The welcome day

Opportunity Oxford Welcome Day - Video Transcript

All Opportunity Oxford offer-holders, together with their family, parents or guardian, are warmly invited to an online 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. Attendees can also talk to academic staff who teach on the programme, speak to current students and representatives from Oxford colleges, hear from university finance, welfare, and careers representatives, and find out more about what to expect from the programme and university life.

"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

The online course

The Online Course - Video Transcript

Participants will follow one of four online courses, according to their future degree: Humanities; Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences (MPLS); Medical Sciences or Social Sciences. Each of the four online courses consists of structured, in-depth, problem-based academic tasks, together with supporting materials, which will assist participants in adapting the skills they have already acquired at school or college for university.

The online course begins in early July. The course takes 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.

"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 

The Oxford residential

The Residential - Video Transcript

During the September residential in Oxford, students build on the work they completed earlier in the summer on the online course. They undertake both classroom and independent work, experience lectures and tutorials and, where appropriate, practical work too. Students will study alongside one another in related subjects at different Oxford colleges. 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. Our team of student ambassadors will also be on hand to offer advice and help students make the most out of student life and studying at Oxford.

"Before 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

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