The Univeristy of Oxford’s outreach activities will expand significantly as part of a new government initiative. The £22m scheme includes three new National Networks for Collaborative Outreach (NNCO).
Oxford will take the lead in directing the activities of the Oxford and Cambridge NNCO. The programme will target Oxbridge-aspiring students in 1,600 English schools in order to improve the application support currently on
Admissions staff from both universities will also host online webinars, hoped to prove beneficial for students from geographically distant areas. Both universities aim to work with schools across England. Particularly targeted are schools which have had little past contact with Oxbridge outreach schemes, those with a history of sending very few students to Oxbridge and schools in socio-economically disadvantaged catchment areas.
A network of other establishments, including Somerville College, was also successful in its bid for an NNCO.
Oxford’s current outreach activities include open days, school visits, UCAS higher education fairs and student and teacher conferences across the UK. Oxford also runs a Sutton Trust supported ‘Pathways’ programme, along with the free UNIQ summer schools, aimed at Year 12 state school students. OUSU runs its own shadowing scheme for Year 12 students through its ‘Target Schools’ strategy.
First year Theology student Eva Chapman welcomed the announcement of the NNCO, commenting, “It encourages bright pupils to aim high regardless of their background or the history of the school and it dispels many myths about the Oxbridge application process.”
Dr. Samina Khan, Oxford’s Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach, told Cherwell, “Oxford’s work with the National Networks for Collaborative Outreach will add to the already significant amount of targeted access work the collegiate University undertakes
across the UK. While this particular programme is funded by the government and HEFCE to target students in English schools, the resources Oxford will be making available include a substantial amount of online support that can be accessed by anyone across the UK.
“Added to our programme of student and teacher conferences and partnership with the Welsh government to create support hubs for potential Welsh applicants to Oxford and Cambridge, these new partnerships will further our goal of supporting bright students in applying to Oxford, no matter what their background or where they come from.”
Speaking about the NNCOs, Greg Clark, Minister for Universities and Science, said, “This programme will ensure that schools and colleges across England can help their students learn about higher education in the classroom, online and through local outreach activity. A record number of students entered higher education in 2014, with entry rates for students from disadvantaged backgrounds increasing by over ten per cent to its highest ever level. However there is still more work to do to ensure all students who want to study hard can benefit, irrespective of their background.”