St Anne’s launched its “new sustained outreach program” Aim for Oxford alongside Christ Church on Saturday.

The scheme is aimed at emboldening students attending North East state schools to apply to Oxford, bridging what has typically been a large divide between one of England’s most economically disadvantaged areas and one of its most vaunted academic institutions.

The launch took place at New- castle Sixth Form College, a coeducational college in the middle of the city.

In her opening address, St Anne’s principal Helen King explained that “you’re only the best if you attract the brightest talent [and] the hard- est working people to you.” The program aims to forge stronger ties between the University and area to establish a clearer pathway for applicants who may otherwise not have applied.

Meanwhile, Christ Church’s outreach team visited schools south of the River Tyne, talking to Year 12s at Hetton School in Sunderland as well as younger students at Jarrow School, near South Shields, before heading north to King’s Priory School in Tynemouth, displaying the College’s ambition to forge concrete links across the region.

Beyond this, Christ Church has also advertised a History Competition open specifically to North-Eastern state school students. The competition is focused upon oral history, asking applicants to “conduct an interview with a member of their local community about their experiences of migration. They should then submit a short essay, summarising their findings.” A number of applicants will then be chosen to discuss their project with an Oxford historian.

The Aim for Access programme was initiated in September, and a statement from Christ Church said at the time: “The North East of Eng- land is the most under-represented region at Oxford, and we believe deeply that diversity is essential to the flourishing of a lively academic community and to Oxford’s future as a hub of social mobility and intellectual exchange. Geographical

diversity is something Oxford needs to continue to work on and we are excited to be part of that through Aim for Oxford”.

Up to 40 students will be assisted from the beginning of sixth form, throughout the application process and up to their arrival at Oxford. The College has specified that the initiative is aimed at economically disadvantaged students and those from underrepresented groups, alongside strong academic results at GCSE.

The North East has traditionally been one of the most poorly represented areas at Oxford – according to the University’s own statistics, the region contributed only 2.1% of the 7,470 students admitted between 2016 and 2018.