During his recent visit to Oxford, Prince Charles spoke with a group of 12 ‘under-represented’ students to hear about their experiences and challenges. The 30-minute conversation took place in the residence of Baroness Amos, master of University College (Univ), after the Prince’s visit to unveil the new Levine building at Trinity college last Thursday.
Baroness Amos is the first black head of any Oxford college and the co-founder of the Amos Bursary program for talented students of African and Caribbean descent. Recipients of this bursary as well as others who had participated in the Opportunity Oxford program were invited to the meeting. He was eager to hear about their journeys to Oxford and thoughts on access at the university.
The conversation came at the request of Prince Charles, who is working on some projects to make university more accessible for students from a variety of backgrounds. Chloe Bardou, Univ JCR Access and Equality rep was one of the students who spoke to Prince Charles. She talked highly of the conversation, saying that although she “was a little bit starstruck”, he made everyone feel at ease and “was keen to hear our feedback on what did and didn’t work” in regards to Prince Charles’ ideas.
The visit comes as the JCR at Univ is pushing for access to be a main priority for the college in the coming years. The college hosts regular visits from schools in Univ’s linked areas in South-East England and engages with direct outreach to these groups from student ambassadors.
Additionally, the college participates in the Opportunity Oxford academic program, which aims to support students who come from under-represented state school backgrounds to prepare for Oxford teaching and living. This year also saw many new events put on by Univ’s JCR and MCR this year to improve inclusivity including a Diwali bop, Chinese New Year celebrations, candle lighting for Hanukkah and a college-wide Iftar. Bardou is pleased with progress like this. However, she hopes the college will do more to make it easier to put on such events and allow small changes that can make students feel more welcome, like rewriting aspects of their Flag policy.
The meeting left participants optimistic about Univ’s inclusive future and the Prince’s decision to discuss such matters with students did not go unnoticed by those he met with, and the many others who gathered outside the master’s residence to spot him leaving afterwards.
Image credit: Ed Nix