By Mary McBain
UNIQ is an access scheme which gives Year 12 UK state school students a chance to experience university life (and Oxford life in particular). There are three different activities available – UNIQ Digital, UNIQ Spring and UNIQ Summer.
UNIQ Digital is a super useful platform to provide guidance through the admissions process. There are many videos and activities which sum up the most important information and provides a realistic view of student life. This year there was also three assignments for the Digital students to complete which were marked by myself and other UNIQ Digital ambassadors. This included submitting a section of their personal statement for feedback (which in my opinion is invaluable). The aim of these tasks is to get students thinking in a certain way; to encourage critical and analytical thinking skills ready for writing their personal statement towards the end of the programme. I have really enjoyed being a UNIQ Digital ambassador this year and, looking at comments from the Digital students, it seems that they have hugely benefitted from it too.
UNIQ Spring and Summer are residential trips to Oxford. I was lucky enough to be accepted onto UNIQ Summer when I was in year 12 and I can honestly say that it was one of the best weeks of my life to that date. The academic side of the week was choc-a-bloc full of exciting activities. We had lectures from leading academics in their field, lab sessions representative of uni practicals, problem solving classes, a mock tutorial and a class on tips for the relevant admissions tests. This afforded me an excellent insight into the subject of Biochemistry at university level. Then, of course, there was the social aspect which was incredible. Each evening there’d be an arranged activity e.g. sports in the park (which, for me, consisted of trying and failing to throw a frisbee in a game of ultimate frisbee), a Ghost Tour of Oxford, Flash Talks (short informative talks from a range of Oxford academics), a comedy performance by The Oxford Imps, and finally the last night disco (which was so much fun!). The accommodation, food, activities and travel were all covered by the university.
They have an Instagram page @oxforduniq which has lots of pictures from previous weeks to give you a better idea of what it is like. I cannot recommend this experience enough.
Apply here: https://www.uniq.ox.ac.uk/application2020/