Oxbridge Applications Head Theo Boyce describes its partnership with The Access Project to help more students gain offers from Oxford and Cambridge Universities

Access surrounding education in general, but in particular top universities such as Oxford and Cambridge, is a hot topic for very good reason. Talented young people exist everywhere, in all walks of life and from all backgrounds. However, opportunity, or lack thereof, still plays a crucial role in determining access to higher education, and students from disadvantaged backgrounds remain significantly underrepresented at top UK universities.

Widening Access so that talented students can receive offers from their dream universities, regardless of their background, is the shared goal of Oxbridge Applications and The Access Project. Oxbridge Applications – an educational consultancy specialising in UK university applications – has given free one-to-one support to thousands of students through access programmes since our founding in 1999. The Access Project, founded in 2008, is a charity supporting students across London, the Midlands, and West Yorkshire through a combination of tuition and in-school mentoring.

Oxbridge Applications on how it is widening access
Oxbridge Applications and The Access Project are supporting students in making successful Oxbridge applications

The Access Project journey begins for students when they apply to the Oxbridge Society; a specially designed project aimed at helping those from disadvantaged backgrounds make a successful application. Applicants are accepted onto the extracurricular programme based on a combination of GCSE attainment and social demographic criteria, ensuring that the brightest students most in need of additional support are selected.

The impact of The Access Project’s work speaks for itself: 93% of its students applied to top universities (compared to 58% of statistically similar peers), 82% of whom received offers from top universities (compared to 51% of statistically similar peers), and 53% of whom obtained a place at a top UK university (compared to 33% of statistically similar peers).

The Access Project has selected Oxbridge Applications as a partner to help its Oxbridge Society students with their course choices, personal statements, admissions test, and interviews. In providing full and open access to our resource packs, The Access Project’s mentees also gain comprehensive information and statistics relating to their chosen Oxbridge course and the admissions process more generally.

“Disadvantaged students who go to top universities quadruple their chances of becoming socially mobile – Oxbridge Applications’ support here is life-changing “

“The OA team are currently reviewing some of our Oxbridge Society student’s personal statements where they have been leaving constructive yet really encouraging feedback on how they can improve these”, say The Access Project’s Senior Programme Officer Chloe Thacker and University Events and Student Enrichment Manager Ellie Edwards. They add that the students, “have been enthusiastic about it and recognise it as a great opportunity for them to get quality Oxbridge-specific feedback to hopefully greatly improve their chances at securing an interview”.

Working together with The Access Project helps us, as an organisation, deliver on our belief that students with the potential to apply to top universities should have access to the information and support to do so – this partnership with us enables us both to turn this vision into a reality.

Nathon Sansom, former Chief Executive of The Access Project, echoed this sentiment in saying: “We know that disadvantaged students who go to top universities quadruple their chances of becoming socially mobile – so Oxbridge Applications’ support here is incredibly important, and life-changing”.

Oxbridge Applications oxbridgeapplications.com

The Access Project theaccessproject.org.uk

Further reading: Forward College on the benefits of studying abroad