The Oxford First Generation Society is a society for students who are the first generation in their family to go to university. This supportive group helps students to find their feet when they arrive in Oxford.
The Society's President Eve McCarten outlines how they support students from backgrounds where friends and family may know nothing about university life and how this community has become an important part of her Oxford life.
"Oxford First-Gen Society is a supportive and active community for students who are the first generation in their family to attend university.
First-gen students are often the target of access programmes to help them gain a place at university; our society aims to ensure these students have equal opportunities, support, and necessary guidance once they arrive here at Oxford.
Meet the President
I’m Eve the president of the society and I’m the first in my close family to go to University. I attended a state school in Liverpool and was the only person in my year to get an offer from Oxford. While incredibly supportive, people at home never quite understood what I was doing and couldn’t offer advice for many of the new challenges I was facing. I had many a phone call explaining what a 2:1 was, what exactly went on in a tutorial, and why, in the words of my friends, had I “joined a bizarre cult” when she saw all of my Matriculation photos.
Oxford is completely different to the social group to that in which I grew up and I moved here knowing absolutely nobody. Attending my first event with the society was comforting. I had finally found people who had similar experiences to me, I had found my own small community in Oxford.
I’m a firm believer that being a first generation student can mean you have a unique experience of the higher education system. It can be challenging at times, but greatly rewarding.
Our students are overcoming many social, economic and educational barriers by being the talented, extraordinary and resilient individuals we know they are. We’re making generational history and changing Oxford for the better. Being a part of First-Gen has enabled me to become a part of a small, yet lively community within the wider university.
Through attending events, I have met people from a huge variety of backgrounds, yet we are all united by one common factor. I’d encourage all first-gen students to get involved and to never doubt that there is always a place for you here.
The Society has key areas of focus:
1. Access and widening participation:
We’re launching a new access campaign in spring 2021 which will focus on equipping sixth form students with the skills necessary to form a competitive university application. In the past we have worked closely with a number of educational charities, students and organisations to help inspire the next generation of students to apply to Oxford.
We provide an inclusive space and community through social events, career workshops, welfare and frequent opportunities for our members. Our recent events have included virtual quizzes, online networking nights, informal formal dinners and panel talks with professionals from first-gen backgrounds. Especially during the pandemic, we recognise the importance of feeling part of a community and the impact isolation can have on maintaining and creating friendships, so we have focused our efforts on hosting online social events to help keep us all connected this term.
3. Inter-university collaboration:
We bring first-generation students from across the UK together through our national network of societies. We have frequent collaborations with societies from institutions like The University of Cambridge, King’s College London and The University of York. Events hosted have included widening participation conferences, fresher webinars and collaborative online social events."