HRH The Prince of Wales visits Univ
His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales visited Univ on Thursday 12 May to meet with students and to hear from them about their experiences of access, diversity and opportunity at Oxford.
At a roundtable discussion, hosted in the Master’s Lodgings by Baroness Amos, a small group of students spoke of their experiences of coming to Oxford from backgrounds which are under-represented at the University. The group included students who had previously participated in a variety of access programmes, including Opportunity Oxford, UNIQ, the Amos Bursary, and Target Oxbridge.
The Prince asked the students about the barriers they had encountered and the ambitions they hoped to fulfil. Some spoke of the relative lack of encouragement they’d received at their schools. Others spoke of the importance of individual inspirational teachers in their personal journey. All reflected on how distant Oxford seemed from the perspective of their home communities, and the importance of targeted outreach work. Many of the students present were themselves now ambassadors, working with schools around the country to bring Oxford a little closer to communities for which it seems an impossibly long way away.
The Prince, who has a long-standing interest in unlocking opportunities for less advantaged young people, was particularly interested to hear of the importance of building communities within Oxford, and networks which reach beyond Oxford, for students from under-represented backgrounds. Many of those who spoke felt that the College and the University had made huge strides in access, but there was still work to do in fostering a truly inclusive environment.
The Prince also spoke with the JCR and WCR presidents and vice-presidents to learn more about the activities of the student common rooms, and with the Senior Tutor, Dr Andrew Bell, to find out about Opportunity Oxford, the university-wide initiative which started at Univ and has now seen 500 students from under-represented backgrounds admitted to the University.
Indigo Rosen-Hunt, a first-year History and Politics student who participated in the discussion, said: “We spoke to the Prince about what it’s like being students of colour and students from working class backgrounds at Oxford. We discussed how our time at Oxford can be quite contrasting – all the academic opportunities on the one hand, but quite a few social and environmental challenges on the other – and how despite all the great access work that has been done there are still structural problems that need to be addressed.”
Baroness Amos, Master of Univ, said: “I am delighted that a group of students had the opportunity to speak to Prince Charles about the barriers they faced getting to Oxford and the things which made a difference to them. They are an inspirational group. His Highness’ visit to Univ is a testament to our long-standing commitment to addressing issues related to access, equality and inclusion. We know that we still have more to do which is why our Beacon Programme is so important. It’s the next step in our journey.”
Photography – Matt Grayson
Published: 16 May 2022