Somerville welcomed a group of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) pupils last month for a taste of College life.
The group of 11 teenagers, who came from schools across London and south-east England, enjoyed sessions on life at Oxford and Cambridge where they learned how choosing a degree that is not vocational, such as History, can open broader career paths after graduating than they had expected.
During the morning, the pupils were welcomed to the College by Jan Royall, the Principal.
“I want you to know that you don’t have to change to fit in at Oxford – this is a place for you to be yourselves,” she told them.
College lecturer Dr Philippa Byrne also gave the pupils a glimpse of Oxford teaching with a talk on Marco Polo’s encounter with the Mongol Empire, and how the Venetian explorer’s writings can teach us about both the culture and attitudes he observed, and his own.
The day ended with a Q&A session where pupils could put questions to current BAME Somervillians, including current Junior Common Room President Emmanuel Amissah-Eshun (2017, Law) and his newly elected successor Talisha Ariarasa (2018, Law).
“You shouldn’t let concerns about money put you off applying to Oxford, as there is plenty of funding available to support students through financial hardship,” Talisha reassured the pupils.
The proportion of UK-domiciled students admitted to Oxford who indicated in their UCAS application that they identified as BAME rose to 18.3% in 2018, according to the university’s latest undergraduate admissions statistics.