Access Fair highlights Oxford’s outreach work | University of Oxford

Access Fair highlights Oxford’s outreach work

Oxford University’s Examination Schools had the feel of another freshers fair as students and staff from across the Oxford University came together to showcase the diverse range of activities that form the University’s outreach work.

On Friday 3 February the University held its first ever Access Fair, an event designed to display and promote the full variety of activities being undertaken across Oxford to widen access to the University. The University’s Examination Schools hosted the freshers fair-style event, with 21 stalls representing a range of access work from across colleges, departments and centrally organised teams from across Oxford. Around 140 students, staff and guests attended the afternoon of events.

Sinead Gallagher, Head of Access at Oxford, said: 'The event was intended to showcase the breadth and variety of outreach work currently taking place at Oxford. Some of the existing activity has a high profile, but much more happens below the radar through the hard work and dedication of students, tutors and administrative staff working in Colleges, departments, museums and the University administration.'

Organised by the Oxford University Student Union (OUSU) and the University’s Undergraduate Admissions Office, guests at the fair were invited to explore the showcase of Oxford’s outreach initiatives, meet some of the people behind the programmes, and get first-hand look at current projects, with an aim to inspiring future outreach activity.

Among the activities and programmes represented at the fair were departmental outreach representatives from Materials Science, Computer Sciences and Classics; the OUSU-run Target Schools programme; representatives from several colleges running the inter-college Pathways programme for state school students; and stalls showcasing the work of the central University’s Open Days, Student Recruitment and Widening Participation teams. 

Hannah Cusworth, Vice-President for Access of OUSU, said: 'It was fantastic to see so many people from across the university at the Access Fair, celebrating and engaging with the work we already do and challenging the university to do more. The quality of the showcased activity was amazing and so many people came up to me saying they were taking innovative ideas they'd seen back with them. I'm excited about working with people across the collegiate university to build on the success of the day.'

The event opened with a panel discussion on the impact of undergraduate outreach work chaired by Dr Sally Mapstone, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education. Participants included Mark Damazer, Master of St Peter’s College; Hannah Cusworth, Vice-President for Access of OUSU; James Turner, projects director at educational charity The Sutton Trust; and David Gustave, educational motivator at educational charity Kids Company.

Anne-Marie Canning, Access and Schools Liaison Officer at University College, which hosted a stall at the event, said: 'The access fair was a fantastic opportunity to share good outreach practice across colleges and departments. It really showcased the diverse and plentiful access activities at Oxford. The range of student-led projects showed creativity and commitment to ensuring talented students from all backgrounds consider Oxford as a place for them. I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to discuss access issues with current students, senior university figures and other outreach practitioners.'