Image credit: OU
Oxford's UNIQ summer school is the largest residential for students from under-represented backgrounds in the UK. Image credit: OU

Students enjoy UNIQ experience at Oxford summer school

Oxford's UNIQ summer school is in full swing for its ninth year, ahead of its landmark tenth anniversary celebrations in 2020.

By the end of July, more than 1,000 state-school students from across the UK will have participated in the week-long summer school experience.

The five day experience includes living in residential colleges, and taking part in a typical Oxford academic week including tutorial teaching, and mentoring sessions with current student ambassadors. Students can try one of more than 30 undergraduate subjects at Oxford, including biochemistry and medicine. A range of sessions also offer information about the application and selection process at Oxford.

Rob Marsh took part in UNIQ in 2015, and is a site manager in this year’s summer school, having just completed his degree in Law. He said: 'I’m from a town just outside of Leeds, and the first person in my family to go to university. When I first got my Oxford acceptance letter, my mum’s first reaction was ‘are you sure? Double check the letter’, she just couldn’t believe it. I have been surprised by how well I have fitted in here, with people like me, but also a real mix of people. Difference is good. I never believed that Oxford could be for me, but UNIQ convinced me to give it a go and I have never looked back. I want others to do the same. Know that you are absolutely good enough to be here – there are no limits! We are waiting for your application.'


In 2018 the University announced plans to expand the UNIQ programme by 50%, creating an additional 500 places. The immersive experience has inspired nearly 1,400 students to make successful applications to Oxford since 2010. Those who participate in the programme have an above average chance of being offered a place to study (34% compared to 20%).

To ensure that Oxford is an attainable university option for academically gifted students across the country, the UNIQ programme also includes UNIQ Digital, an online stream for students who are unable to visit the University themselves. The portal offers prospective applicants the insights, encouragement and mentoring advice that they need to make compelling applications, via the website and email communication.

Dr Samina Khan, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach at Oxford University, said: 'UNIQ is a wonderful example of what can happen when bright students are given the chance to realise their potential and increase their confidence.

'Thanks to the cooperation of our colleges, academics and student mentors, the UNIQ programme continues to inspire participants to believe in themselves and their abilities, and apply to Oxford. It gives prospective applicants an opportunity to look beyond their fears and preconceptions, wrap themselves in the Oxford experience, and decide for themselves if this University is the right fit for them.'

Earlier this year Oxford University announced its biggest commitment to date to diversifying its student body, and supporting talented students from under-represented backgrounds to thrive at the University. The combined impact of the Opportunity Oxford and Foundation Oxford programmes represents a major progression for the University, with one Oxford undergraduate in four now set to be from the UK’s most under-represented backgrounds by 2023.

Dr Khan said: 'We feel confident that the combination of our ambitious access schemes, including the UNIQ programme, and the newly announced Opportunity Oxford and Foundation Oxford programmes will speed up the pace of change at Oxford.'