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Opportunity Oxford & Foundation Oxford

Univ Opportunity OxfordOne Oxford undergraduate in four will be from the UK’s most under-represented backgrounds by 2023, thanks to two ambitious admission schemes unveiled by the University today. The two new programmes – Opportunity Oxford and Foundation Oxford – will increase significantly undergraduate places for the most promising students from less advantaged backgrounds and areas. When fully up and running, they will offer transformative paths to outstanding education for up to 250 students a year, representing 10% of Oxford’s UK undergraduate intake. This will be a major step change for the University, boosting the proportion of students coming to Oxford from under-represented areas from 15% to 25%.

From 2020, Opportunity Oxford will introduce a study programme for students over the summer between school and University. Participating students will be from less advantaged backgrounds and will have just missed out on a place when applying to the University in the normal way. They will be on course to gain the required grades but will need additional academic support to transition successfully to Oxford. The Opportunity Oxford programme will comprise both structured study at home and two weeks of residential study at Oxford just before the start of the undergraduate term. The course will introduce students to lectures, tutorials, group and individual work, building their subject knowledge, academic abilities and self-reliance. Students will then begin undergraduate study with greater confidence, new friends and familiarity with life at Oxford.

Foundation Oxford is to be offered to students from under-represented areas who have also experienced personal disadvantage or severely disrupted education. They will have high academic potential but not yet be able to make a competitive Oxford application. Offers for Foundation Oxford will be made on the basis of lower contextual A-level grades, rather than the University’s standard offers. Successful students will undertake a year-long, bespoke, subject-specific programme, building their capacity for independent study. The participants will all be based at Oxford colleges and, provided they successfully complete the programme, will move on to the Oxford undergraduate degree of their choice.

Both programmes will be introduced on a phased basis, building up to 200 Opportunity Oxford places and 50 for Foundation Oxford. They build on existing successful College initiatives.

Opportunity Oxford is modelled on University College’s pioneering Opportunity Programme, while Foundation Oxford draws on Lady Margaret Hall’s innovative Foundation Year scheme.

Sir Ivor Crewe, Master of University College, said: “Here at Univ, we are delighted that our Opportunity Programme has provided the inspiration for Opportunity Oxford. We are immensely proud of our Opportunity Programme, and are most grateful to our many friends and benefactors who have supported it so very generously.”

Andrew Bell, Senior Tutor, added: “We are particularly appreciative of our tutors and students who have made Univ’s Opportunity Programme such a success. We look forward to working closely with our colleagues in the University as the programme is rolled out across Oxford.”

Ffion Price (2017, History and Politics) was interviewed recently as part of a series of profiles celebrating 40 years of achievement by women students and academics at Univ; she writes:

“I grew up on a council estate in Swansea, South Wales. I didn’t come from a background conducive to getting people into A-Levels, let alone higher education – least of all Oxbridge. Access efforts made here at Oxford were crucial in paving the way for me to end up here. I was fortunate enough to attend a Pathways Day here when I was 15 – in that single day I’d gone from not particularly considering progression to higher education to deciding that I wanted to go to university, and Oxford was the place I would aim for. My benefit from Access efforts however did not end there. When I came to Univ in September 2017, I did so on the pilot year of the Opportunity Programme. If it were not for the constant endeavours of those engaged in access here at Oxford I may well not have ended up here. Being the Access and Equalities Officer here at Univ is a way to help strengthen the foundations of the very things that brought myself and so many others like me to Oxford.”

More information can be found on the University website at ox.ac.uk/opportunity

Published: 21 May 2019

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