Joe Seddon, founder of Access Oxbridge, has been awarded a Points of Light award by the Prime Minister for his efforts to improve access to Oxford University to students from underrepresented backgrounds.
In a personal letter to Seddon, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I know you do this with no thought of praise or reward, but allow me to offer my own recognition of how ‘Access Oxbridge’ is giving the most talented young people from under- represented backgrounds the skills andconfidence to win the places they deserve at two of our country’s finest, world-leadinguniversities.”
Seddon said: “I am honoured to receive this award from the Prime Minister on behalf of Access Oxbridge, and would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to our incredible mentors and inspirational students.
“Education has the ability to transform lives, and we must continue to work to ensure that those with incredible talent are able to succeed irrespective of background.”
Access Oxbridge was set up in 2018as a mentoring programme to connect disadvantaged students with current andformer students from Oxford and Cam- bridge in order to give them the “resources and soft skills” needed to allow them to“compete on a level playing field with theirprivately educated peers.” The mentoring programme consists of a series of weekly one-hour video turorials with a mentor, delivered through an online app. After itsfirst year, 50 students from disadvantagedbackgrounds were admitted under thescheme, representing a 30% success rate.
The Points of Light award was set up in
2014 as a scheme to recognise “outstanding individual volunteers.” An award is made by the Prime Minister on a daily basis to volunteers “doing everything from tackling knife crime, to supporting families of dementia patients.” Seddon is the 1256th person to be given an award under the scheme.
Joe Seddon is a PPE graduate fromMansfield College, which has the highestpercentage of state school students acrossboth Oxford and Cambridge – 88% in 2018.
Seddon told Cherwell he found runningthe Access Oxbridge scheme “really enjoy- able.”
“I started it up as a side project but veryquickly I saw it had a significant impacton people’s chances of being admitted, in particular for people who wouldn’t consider applying to Oxbridge or from schools who have never sent people before.”
Seddon plans to match Access Oxbridge’s success of getting 50 students admitted under the scheme, and has plans to expandthe scheme beyond Oxford and Cambridgeto other Russell Group universities.
Seddon expressed his support for Foun- dation Oxford and Opportunity Oxford, the access schemes launched by the Universityearlier this year. He told Cherwell, “It’s goodto see the university getting innovative in this domain but they could go further.
“They need to expand their digital and online campaigns.”
Seddon suggested he would welcome the prospect of working collaboratively with the new schemes: “To get through to students who are harder to reach it is necessary to work with groups who can create hyper- targeted campaigns to reach out to people who wouldn’t ordinarily consider applying.”