Oxford to launch summer school targeting pupils from “educationally disadvantaged areas”

Khushali Dodhia 2 March 2017

Oxford University has launched a summer school targeting students living in rural and coastal areas, in a bid to increase its proportion of working class undergraduates.

In conjunction with education charity the Sutton Trust, the university will run workshops offering pupils the chance to be taught by Oxford professors and stay in colleges free of charge.

The scheme is open to any state-educated Year 12 pupil who has at least five GCSEs at A* or A grades.

Although the summer schools are open to any student, they are particularly aimed at pupils from certain "educationally disadvantaged areas", and particular postcode classifications, who have previously been underrepresented in outreach programmes, which will likely include lots of white working-class students.

Priority will be given to applicants who meet certain criteria, such as coming from a deprived neighbourhood and being the first generation of their family to go to university.

Research by the Sutton Trust shows that 24% of white British boys who are eligible for free school meals achieve 5 C grades at GCSE, the lowest proportion of any major ethnic group, with just 9% going to university aged 18.

It is the first time Oxford will aim a summer school at students living in these areas in particular. The university has been running similar programmes that target black and minority ethnic pupils for the past 17 years.

Recent government figures revealed that Oxford has most privately-educated intake of any mainstream UK university. 55.7% of its students starting in 2015/16 were from state schools (although this figure does not include its most recent intake from autumn 2016, which saw a rise in the number of state pupils).

Speaking to the Telegraph, Dr Samina Khan, Oxford’s Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach, commented: “By working intensively with one of the most under-represented groups in higher education, I hope that we can help students realise their potential and encourage high-achieving students from white British socio-economically disadvantaged areas to aim for top universities such as Oxford.”