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Eleanor Bley Griffiths has published 25 articles

OUSU supports new approach to access

Report recommends provisions to help applicants from non-traditional backgrounds
Eleanor Bley Griffiths on Thursday 26th January 2012
Photograph: Amy Rollason

A new report has recommended that Oxford radically changes its approach towards socially disadvantaged applicants.

For the last few years Oxford has been flagging applicants from non-traditional backgrounds and tracing their progress through the system. Of the 500 flagged candidates from 2010, 100 received offers. However 50 failed to meet the necessary grades and 15 rejected their place.

The report, which has been given OUSU’s support, suggests that these two problems could be tackled by bridging provisions and foundation provisions. The former is aimed at supporting potential applicants who are still at secondary school, through the use of mentors. The second proposed solution suggests Oxford could attempt to fix problems of poor education, socio-economic deprivation and the social care system by introducing a foundation course.

This course could be a short residential study period or a year-long more traditional foundation scheme. It would provide an entry route into undergraduate courses for students with potential to study at undergraduate level who might not meet grade requirements, bringing them up to the necessary level.

Hannah Cusworth, OUSU’s Access Officer, stated her support for the motion, commenting, “As well as being a moral imperative for Oxford to ensure that disadvantaged students have a fair chance of making their offer, it is key we don’t lose potential students from non-traditional backgrounds who could go on to be great students.”

JCR President of Univ, Daniel Tomlinson, added, “Bridging support is a really good idea. It’s a way of making candidates from non-traditional backgrounds feel that Oxford wants them.”

The report was created by a working group and received some support from Admissions Officers last Michaelmas, although some concerns about logistics were expressed. OUSU supported the motion at its meeting last week, and JCR Executives and other representatives will be consulted early this term.”

If the proposal is implemented, it could help the university meet its targets for including students from non-traditional backgrounds. This is a condition of the agreement with the Office for Fair Access which accepted Oxford University raising their fee level to £9,000. Around 150 more flagged students must become Oxford undergraduates by 2016

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