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Postgraduate access schemes to reach under-represented backgrounds

Oxford University has expanded its postgraduate access scheme to reach students from underrepresented backgrounds.

This summer, more than 60 paid research internships will be available through the University’s graduate access programmes.

They are offering projects in a wide range of subjects from physics, biochemistry and mathematics to geography and English literature.

Following the success of the first UNIQ+ graduate access summer school, applications for UNIQ+ 2020 and the Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholarships are now open.

In 2019, 33 students from across the UK attending UNIQ+.

This year, these two programmes will offer twice as many UK students from under-represented groups the opportunity to experience postgraduate research through fully paid research internships, it has been announced.

The University’s graduate access programmes offer opportunities for graduate students to undertake a research internship under the supervision of Oxford academics and with mentoring from current students.

The courses are open to those who would otherwise be prevented from pursuing postgraduate study because of socio-economic, or financial circumstances.

Participants will attend a range of skills sessions, lectures and social events, as well as receiving information on the application process for graduate study and funding.

David Gavaghan, Professor of Computational Biology and Director of the MPLS Graduate School, said: “The University’s success derives from its community of outstanding researchers and the world-leading research environment that supports them. We are really excited to be able to invite students from under-represented backgrounds to join this community for the summer and to experience this world-leading environment through UNIQ+. There is no typical Oxford experience or typical Oxford student. We want everyone who could benefit from our doctoral research programmes to consider us.”

Feedback from the pilot year of UNIQ+ was “highly positive”, and this year the programmes have expanded.

UNIQ+ 2019 participant and University of Bristol student, Ellie Jarvis, said: “UNIQ+ was a unique insight into postgraduate life and a really valuable way to spend the summer; it pushes you out of your comfort zone and into a worldrenowned university that is often seen as inaccessible.

“Opportunities like this are still scarce but I am hopeful that this is changing. I believe that the University of Oxford’s UNIQ+ programme is pioneering a new era of research internship opportunities across universities so that all students can fulfil their passions.”

60 places will be available for 2020 UNIQ+. This includes six projects in biomedical sciences funded through the Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholarship.

Participants are paid around £2,500 and offered free accommodation provided by Oxford colleges for the seven-week science programme or four-week humanities programme.

Nadia Pollini, Director of Graduate Admissions and Recruitment, said: “We have been delighted with the success of UNIQ+ in its first year and we are very excited to have the enthusiastic support of the University, its colleges and academic departments and institutes in expanding the programme this year. We strongly encourage anyone who might benefit from such an opportunity to look into what these programmes offer to students from under-represented backgrounds.”

In a statement, Oxford University said: “The University is committed to giving talented applicants of all backgrounds the chance to benefit from an Oxford education, regardless of their personal circumstances. Through initiatives like UNIQ+ the University of Oxford aims to increase the number of promising graduates from under-represented groups.”

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