Oxbridge regularly admits twice as many students from Eton as it does students eligible for free school meals - Access Oxbridge is changing that.
Access Oxbridge seeks to harness the power of the growing ed-tech sector to make Britain’s most prestigious universities truly accessible to all. We connect disadvantaged students with Oxbridge mentors who deliver live video tutorials ranging from personal statement advice, admissions test guidance, and realistic Oxbridge-style mock interviews. The idea is to give disadvantaged students 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 low socio-economic backgrounds or areas with low university participation automatically qualify.
Within just over a month of launching, we've had over 500 Oxbridge mentors sign up and commit to mentoring a disadvantaged student for at least one hour per week. This has already allowed us to connect over 150 disadvantaged students with Oxbridge mentors using a special matching algorithm which pairs mentors and mentees based on shared background. 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?
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
Whilst many access schemes have hitherto focused on giving disadvantaged students the necessary encouragement to apply to Oxbridge, this is only the first, and in many ways the lowest, hurdle to 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 £50 per hour – more accessible than ever for the most affluent in society. Access Oxbridge is therefore 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. We employ a special algorithm to match mentors and mentees from similar backgrounds to ensure that tutorials are delivered by relatable mentors with shared experiences. This ensures that mentors are not only knowledgeable but, indeed, relatable; providing the means to bridge both the resource and perception-gap.
About the Founder
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. In order to expand the reach of the scheme, he is engaging in an Access Oxbridge Schools Tour beginning in Yorkshire to convince as many students as possible to participate in the scheme. The tour will visit over 50 schools in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the UK.
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 is beginning his Access Oxbridge Schools Tour in West Yorkshire, to ensure that he reaches the students most in need of the resources and skills Access Oxbridge can provide.
Why We Need Your Help
Access Oxbridge is currently completely self-financed by its founder, Joe Seddon. 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 500 by the New Year
To recruit over 1000 mentors studying a range of Oxbridge degree programs so we can make the best matches possible
To visit over 50 schools in disadvantaged areas throughout the country to spread the message