Undergraduate Access Programmes at Oxford University - Part 1

By Matilda Trueblood

It is well known that Oxford is associated with elitism and exclusion, and especially students from state schools or lower socio-economic backgrounds and Black African-Caribbean students are under-represented at Oxford. Worthy students often don’t receive an offer or even apply due to a lack of the necessary resources and support. Oxford has a lot of free programmes to support students from under-represented backgrounds considering applying to the university, some by the university and some by students. I hope this list helps anyone considering applying. Good luck!

University programmes


This is an access programme aiming to encourage state school students with good grades from under-represented backgrounds. It offers a residential summer school, with the option to study one of 30 single subject courses or one of several combined ones, and also a digital version (UNIQ Digital) to reach more students. Students also get to meet current Oxford undergraduates and to participate in social activities. The programme aims to prepare students for the applications process, but also to give them a taste of what Oxford life is like. 1 in 3 UNIQ students receive an offer, compared to 1 in 5 state school students. Go to http://www.uniq.ox.ac.uk/ for more information.

Target Oxbridge:

This programme is run by Rare in collaboration with Oxford and Cambridge Universities and aims to improve Oxbridge access for talented black African and Caribbean students, with priority to those from state schools. The programme encompasses one-on-one mentoring, regular contact with a black or minority ethnic Oxbridge graduate, advice and preparation in all stages of the applications process, and events such as Oxbridge style tutorials or guest speakers. The programme had a success rate of 41% in 2019 (double the usual success rate). Go to https://targetoxbridge.co.uk/ for more information.

Opportunity Oxford:

This programme aims to prepare Oxford offer holders from under-represented backgrounds for success at the university. For students who are nervous about whether they would be successful at Oxford, it may provide another incentive to apply. The programme involves an online academic course from July to August, with in-depth but flexible academic tasks and ongoing feedback. After confirmation of your place, there is a two week residential in Oxford in September, with classroom and independent work, sample lectures and tutorials, and the opportunity to meet other students.

Go to https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/increasing-access/opportunity-oxford for more information.