Collegiate university outreach gets a boost from the Sutton Trust

A major outreach collaboration by Oxford's colleges has received a boost from the Sutton Trust educational charity.

The Oxford Pathways Programme, a college-wide access initiative, has received funding to increase its work in encouraging students in school years 12 and 13 to apply to Oxford. The Sutton Trust will offer the programme £50,000 per year for five years. This will be added to the more than £3m the University currently dedicates to access and outreach activity.

The funding will be used to increase the number of places available for some of the most oversubscribed events, and to fund accommodation and travel expenses for students who might otherwise be deterred from visiting Oxford. The new funding was announced on 19 November at a launch at St Peter's College attended by the Trust's chairman Sir Peter Lampl and Oxford University's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andrew Hamilton. 

The Pathways Programme works specifically with non-selective state schools that have little history of sending students to Oxford. It runs events for students including subject-specific study days, course choice workshops and application and interview preparation events.

The programme is run collaboratively by all of Oxford's undergraduate colleges, with help from both undergraduate and postgraduate students working alongside college staff. In its first year the programme worked with nearly 3,000 students and 400 teachers from across the UK. 

The Master of St Peter's, Mark Damazer, said: 'The Pathways Programme is an excellent example of the collegiate university's dedication to outreach work, and we’re delighted by the Sutton Trust's support. It’s particularly vital because it focuses on those schools with very small numbers of applicants, where targeted support is most essential.'

The Pathways programme is part of Oxford University's wider outreach work, which last year saw members of the collegiate University take part in more than 2,200 outreach and access events in Oxford and across the country. These include Oxford's flagship UNIQ summer school for state school students, which was started in 2010 after the University ran Sutton Trust summer schools for a number of years. The charity also contributes funding to other university outreach activities, including an outreach officer post.

Sutton Trust Chairman Sir Peter Lampl said: 'Access to Oxford has always been a priority for the Sutton Trust and so I am delighted that we are able to support another substantial, pan-university initiative, which complements so well the work of UNIQ and the efforts of individual colleges. One of the attractions of Pathways was that it is collaborative, bringing substantial numbers of students to Oxford to meet undergraduates and to talk to dons. In our experience, there is nothing more powerful than that direct contact in breaking down barriers and boosting aspirations.'