Last week two Oxford students announced the launch of Oxbuddy, a new platform that aims to encourage sixth-formers from disadvantaged backgrounds to apply to Oxford by pairing them with current students.
The founders of the scheme are Rochelle Moss and Olly Boyland, two PPE first year undergraduates, who have worked over the vac to launch a website, reach out to state schools around the country, and to encourage Oxford students to participate. More than 200 people have signed up so far, and the pair have received further offers of additional help and ideas from interested students.
The initiative hopes to offer potential applicants a window directly into Oxford life, dispelling myths that might put disadvantaged students off applying. Buddies will also offer help on the arduous and sometimes confusing application process, offering advice that disadvantaged state schools might not have the resources to give.
As well as matching applicants to students based upon subject, the founders of the scheme also hope to base matches upon background. Speaking to Cherwell, Boyland explained: “Unfortunately, many students from deprived backgrounds have little support from their school and don’t know anyone who’s been through the admissions process before so have no one to turn to with any concerns. Therefore, we pair them up with a student at Oxford, so they can ask someone who knows what it’s like.”
The launching of the scheme comes after another year of admissions in which the percentage of Oxford students who come from state schools is dwarfed by the percentage of state school students across the population as a whole. Boyland acknowledges that “we don’t think Oxbuddy will fix all of Oxford’s access problems”, but the founders “hope it’ll make a difference”.
Oxford can seem a distant and unwelcoming prospect in schools with few Oxbridge applicants, and the Oxbuddy scheme seeks to overcome this potential barrier as “speaking to a person studying at Oxford will hopefully make it seem like a normal university, not the elite and scary place that it’s often perceived as being.”
Boyland hopes that the scheme will also carry benefits for the Oxford students who choose to take part, as “helping someone get into Oxford who would never usually have any support with applying to university will be an incredibly rewarding experience.”
Volunteers are not expected to give professional advice but to offer help and direction in a more informal and friendly way.
For more information about the scheme and information on how to get involved, students can go to the Oxbuddy Facebook page or visit their website.