Success in Second Year of Unlock Oxford Residentials

29 Apr 2024

Students in discussion attending the Unlock Oxford residential

Now in its second year, the Unlock Oxford programme saw 182 students from schools in Leicester and Derby visit the College over four residentials in March.

After many months of planning and orchestration, the Outreach Team were delighted to welcome students from 12 inner-city schools in Leicester and Derby as part of the urban stream of Unlock Oxford. The programme works with students targeted individually based on their measures of disadvantage and academic ability, affording them the opportunity to immerse themselves in university life through an overnight stay at the College. In ninth week, two residentials took place for Leicester students in Year 12 and Year 10 respectively, with a further two residentials in eleventh week for Derby students.

targeted students attended across four residentials
12 schools across inner-city Derby and Leicester attended
95% of attendees met at least one measure of disadvantage
77% of attendees said they were likely to apply to Oxford in future

The Year 12 residentials provided a comprehensive overview of studying at Oxford, including tutorial-style discussions and demonstration interview questions. Students enjoyed a tour of Oxford and had the opportunity to meet a number of Hall tutors who kindly gave up their time to attend a Q&A panel. An application masterclass aimed to equip attendees with all the relevant information on the Oxford application process such that they could make as competitive an application as possible in future.

The residentials for Year 10 students focussed more on a general introduction to university, with sessions on student finance and A-level choices, as well as an opportunity to see the city and visit a university department for a hands-on session. The Oxplore team within the central university were kind enough to come along to deliver an engaging and thought-provoking session which saw the students tackling broad questions like “Can you choose to be healthy?” and “Can we live without laws?”.

57% of attendees live in areas of socioeconomic deprivation (Acorn 4 & 5)
72% of attendees identified as Black, Asian or another ethnic minority group

I wanted to pass on our gratitude for the incredible attention to detail and the welcome you gave us all. It was a truly wonderful experience and our students have grown so much in their confidence and self-belief as a result.
— Year 10 Derby Teacher

A team of Student Ambassadors were on-hand throughout the residentials, allowing attendees to engage with and learn from current Oxford students. The ambassadors’ input was instrumental in the success of the programme, alongside the valuable contribution of the bursary, kitchen, servery, lodge and housekeeping teams. Qualitative feedback has been extremely positive, and quantitative analysis of feedback demonstrates statistically-significant positive impacts on students’ understanding of university, their ability to make informed A-level and degree course choices, as well as Year 12 students’ understanding of all aspects of the application process.

Given that applications to the College from students in Derbyshire and Leicestershire increased threefold in the last admissions round, it appears that programmes like Unlock Oxford are having a tangible impact across the board.

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