Somerville hosts Universify summer schools to help bridge the access gap

23rd August 2017

Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 11.20.05Over the past two weeks, Somerville has hosted 79 students from Universify Summer Schools – a series of week-long courses for year 10 students from non-selective state schools.

In its second year running, Universify has almost doubled the number of students on the course, and has recruited 17 new schools to the programme. In particular, a large contingent of this year’s students came from Stoke-on-Trent, thanks to Somerville’s connection with the area. 

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The access initiative was founded by Oriel alumnus Harry Hoare in conjunction with Somerville in 2016.  It seeks to raise the educational aspirations and attainment of students who are from non-traditional and disadvantaged backgrounds and who are at risk of not fulfilling their full potential. By concentrating on Year 10 students, the programme aims to encourage high aspirations before they take their GCSE exams, which can make a huge difference to their chances of attending the university of their choice later on.

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This is achieved by inviting students to partake on the course free of charge and fully immerse themselves in University life in a variety of different forms, including attending university-level seminars, exploring the city of Oxford, and living independently at Somerville College.

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Upon their arrival, students are paired up with Universify coaches, who are student volunteers from various universities around the UK. First, they have an hour-long, one-on-one life coaching session and over the next nine months have monthly meetings until they return to Oxford to take part in the Easter residential course. At this point, the student and coach evaluate how their goals are being met and identify areas of improvement.

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‘We are very conscious that there is a great deal of potential out there that Oxford doesn’t at the moment fully inspire,’ says Dr Steve Raynor, Senior Tutor at Somerville College. ‘We hope that we’ve managed to bust a few myths about Oxford and about high-demand universities more generally, so that they have a better understanding about what Oxford and other excellent Universities can offer them.’

Go to Universify’s Facebook page to see a full gallery of photos from the Summer Schools.

For more information about Universify, please visit their website.

In the following video, students and teachers talk about the impact that Universify is having so far.


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