Access Oxbridge: Making Oxbridge Accessible to All

by Joe Seddon in Tingley, England, United Kingdom

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This project is using Flexible funding and will receive all pledges made by March 4th 2019 at 2:42pm

Access Oxbridge connects disadvantaged students with mentors from the Universities of Oxford & Cambridge to make Oxbridge accessible to all

by Joe Seddon in Tingley, England, United Kingdom

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www.accessoxbridge.co.uk

Oxbridge regularly admits the same amount of students from just 8 private schools as 3,000 state schools combined - Access Oxbridge is changing that. 


At least 50 of our state-educated students gained offers from either Oxford or Cambridge this year: next year we want that number to be over 200!

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Access Oxbridge seeks to harness the power of the growing education technology sector to make Britain’s most prestigious universities truly accessible to all. We connect students from disadvantaged backgrounds with Oxbridge mentors who deliver live video tutorials ranging from personal statement advice, admissions test guidance, and realistic Oxbridge-style tutorials. The idea is to give students from disadvantaged backgrounds access to the resources and soft skills they need to make a successful application to Oxford or Cambridge. All students who attend non-fee paying schools and come from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds or areas with low university participation automatically qualify.

Within just four months of launching, we've signed up over 500 Oxbridge mentors who we've connected with over 200 talented students coming from some of the most socio-economically deprived areas in the UK. This year at least 50 of our Access Oxbridge students gained offers to study at the University of Oxford or Cambridge, showing the real impact that mentorship can have on chances of success! This success is partly down to our special matching algorithm which pairs mentors and mentees based on shared background and educational experience. This ensures that mentors are not only knowledgeable but, indeed, relatable; providing the means to challenge the commonly-held perception that Oxbridge is "not for people like me".

Why Access Oxbridge?

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Access Oxbridge was created in response to Freedom of Information requests obtained and publicised by David Lammy MP in May 2018 which highlighted the extent of Oxbridge's access problem. According to the data, in 2015, 82% of Oxbridge offers were given to students within the top two socio-economic groups, whilst only 6% of offers went to students from the bottom two groups. Even more shockingly, one in four Oxbridge colleges each year fails to make a single offer to a black British student, whilst the same colleges make more offers to applicants from four Home Counties than the whole of Northern England. 

This increasingly matters in a world where the financial benefits of education are increasing: Oxbridge graduates earn a £400,000 lifetime premium as compared to graduates from other British universities. As students around the country prepare to make applications to British universities, there is no better time to launch a scheme to give those very students access to the resources and skills they need to succeed.

How We’re Different

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Whilst many schemes to make Oxbridge more accessible have focused on giving disadvantaged students the necessary encouragement to apply to Oxbridge, this is only the first, and in many ways the lowest, hurdle that needs to be overcome. Dispelling pernicious myths and transforming Oxbridge’s image does nothing to rectify the resources and skills gap which exists between disadvantaged students and their more affluent peers. A talented applicant from a disadvantaged background will often be no match for an applicant from a privileged background when the privileged student has been rigorously coached to succeed from almost the day they were born. By the time disadvantaged students arrive at the Oxbridge interview – if they even get there! - it is in many ways already too late.

Many current Oxbridge students have a wide range of tutoring experience due to the recent growth of online tutoring platforms such as MyTutor. As technology has developed, private tutors have been able to deliver their tutorials through online communication software such as Skype and FaceTime. This has made private tuition – often costing in excess of £80 per hour – more accessible than ever for the most affluent in society.

Access Oxbridge is launching a campaign to get as many Oxbridge students as possible to commit one hour per week to mentoring a disadvantaged student in order to utilise those skills for a socially beneficial end. This will allow us to level the playing field between disadvantaged and privileged students by providing supplementary tuition to those who need it most. 

About the Founder

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Access Oxbridge is the creation of recent Oxford graduate Joe Seddon. Joe graduated in July 2018 with a First Class degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) from Mansfield College, Oxford. Mansfield College stands apart from all other colleges in offering 88% of its places to state school students, and this is in part what inspired Joe to create Access Oxbridge rather than take the conventional Oxbridge route into the City. He has developed, financed and administered Access Oxbridge entirely by himself from his childhood home in West Yorkshire.

Joe, himself, comes from a 'disadvantaged background', hailing from an area with one of the worst Oxbridge participation rates in the country. In 2017, only 7 students from his local constituency of Morley & Outwood applied to the University of Oxford, all of whom were subsequently rejected. This is a microcosm of Yorkshire’s university access problem. According to government figures, only 29% of students in Joe’s local authority of Wakefield go on to higher education institutions. These numbers are even worse for students eligible for free school meals: only 12% of disadvantaged students from Wakefield attend university, one of the lowest participation rates in the country. This is why Joe founded Access Oxbridge, to ensure that he can reach the students most in need of the resources and skills Access Oxbridge can provide.

Why We Need Your Help

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Access Oxbridge is currently self-financed by Joe Seddon, alongside a number of small donations from charitable trusts. In order to ensure that the project can keep growing, we need your help so that we can reach as many disadvantaged students as possible. All donations will contribute towards making that happen! 

In particular, we'd like to:

Increase the number of disadvantaged students we connect to over 800 by the next academic year.


Recruit over 1000 mentors studying a range of Oxbridge degree programs so we can make the best matches possible


Help over 200 students win places at either Oxford or Cambridge in the 2019-2020 admissions cycle


Whether you're able to give £5 or £500, please spread the word by sharing Access Oxbridge on social media so we can help as many students as possible!

@AccessOxbridge

Let's make 'Access Oxbridge: Making Oxbridge Accessible to All' happen