Oxford University expands access scheme to get students from under-represented backgrounds into postgraduate study

12 February 2020

More than 60 paid research internships will be available through the University’s graduate access programmes this summer, with projects offered in a wide range of subjects from physics, biochemistry and mathematics to geography and English literature.

Building on the success of the 2019 pilot of the pioneering UNIQ+ graduate access summer school, applications have now opened for UNIQ+ 2020 and the Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholarships. These programmes will offer around twice as many UK students from under-represented groups the opportunity to experience postgraduate research through fully paid research internships this year.

Open to those who would usually find postgraduate study a challenge because of socio-economic or financial circumstances, the University’s graduate access programmes offer opportunities to undertake a research internship under the supervision of Oxford academics and with mentoring from students. Participants attend a range of skills sessions, lectures and social events, and receive information on how to apply for graduate study and funding.

David Gavaghan, Professor of Computational Biology and Director of the MPLS Graduate School, said: 'The University’s success derives from its community of outstanding researchers and the world-leading research environment that supports them. We are really excited to be able to invite students from under-represented backgrounds to join this community for the summer and to experience this world-leading environment through UNIQ+. There is no typical Oxford experience or typical Oxford student. We want everyone who could benefit from our doctoral research programmes to consider us.'

In 2019, 33 students from all over the UK attended UNIQ+. Feedback from the pilot year was highly positive, and in 2020, the University’s graduate access programmes have expanded to offer more projects in the sciences as well as new subject areas in humanities and social sciences.

UNIQ+ 2019 participant and University of Bristol student Ellie Jarvis said: ‘UNIQ+ was a unique insight into postgraduate life and a really valuable way to spend the summer; it pushes you out of your comfort zone and into a world-renowned university that is often seen as inaccessible. 

Opportunities like this are still scarce but I am hopeful that this is changing. I believe that the University of Oxford’s UNIQ+ programme is pioneering a new era of research internship opportunities across universities so that all students can fulfil their passions.’

At least 60 places will be available for 2020 including six projects in biomedical sciences funded through the Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholarships. Participants are paid around £2,500 and offered free accommodation provided by Oxford’s colleges for the duration of the seven-week programme (four weeks in Humanities).

Nadia Pollini, Director of Graduate Admissions and Recruitment, said, ‘We have been delighted with the success of UNIQ+ in its first year and we are very excited to have the enthusiastic support of the University, its colleges and academic departments and institutes in expanding the programme this year. We strongly encourage anyone who might benefit from such an opportunity to look into what these programmes offer to students from under-represented backgrounds.’

The University is committed to giving talented applicants of all backgrounds the chance to benefit from an Oxford education, regardless of their personal circumstances. Through initiatives like UNIQ+ the University of Oxford aims to increase the number of promising graduates from under-represented groups.

For further information please contact Lanisha Butterfield, Communications Manager, Education and Admissions on 01865 280531 or email Lanisha.butterfield@admin.ox.ac.uk

Notes to editors:

Information and eligibility criteria for UNIQ+ and Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholarships are available at www.ox.ac.uk/graduateaccess

The deadline for 2020 applications is 12pm on Monday 24 February.