Oxford college devotes full-time post to access

A University of Oxford college has created a full-time academic post dedicated to encouraging bright state-school students to apply to competitive universities.

September 16, 2012

Pembroke College believes it is the first time an Oxbridge college had created such a position for a publishing academic.

Peter Claus, senior research fellow in history at the college, took up the role as "access fellow" last month.

As part of the role, Dr Claus will oversee the extension of a successful teaching programme for high-achieving students in East London, based at the BSix Brooke House Sixth Form College in Hackney, to the North West of England.

Working out of a hub at South Cheshire College, students from the surrounding area will take part in a year-long academic programme designed to prepare students for university study.

As in Hackney this will include sessions in a book-lined "tutorial room" that according to Pembroke is designed to offer a place for reflective study, mock interviews and a "calm and reflective atmosphere".

Through the collaboration 60 students, rising to 90 once the scheme spreads to a third site in Manchester in 2013 or 2014, will also receive one-to-one tutorials, seminars and skill sessions taught by Pembroke academics, postgraduates and undergraduates, as well as guidance on the Oxford interview process.

In the North West this will also include sessions at Manchester City Football Club's Etihad stadium, while London students will travel to Citibank in Canary Wharf for seminars, said Pembroke.

"With these new developments, our aim is for students to feel better prepared to make an application to Pembroke, to Oxford or to other competitive universities," said Dr Claus.

"We hope that after working with an access fellow over a full academic year, pupils will have experience of undergraduate teaching and some knowledge about the Oxford admissions process and so will be able to look beyond the myths and feel confident about applying to Oxford."

In the last three years of the collaboration between Pembroke and BSix in Hackney the number of students winning places at Russell Group universities has increased more than five-fold.

Pembroke said the appointment of an access fellow was the first phase of a ten-year strategy for the college's widening-access activities, for which Dr Claus will also be responsible, working with the college's access and admissions officer.

Pembroke's choice of the North West is the result of an effort by the university to link each local authority to a college to ensure each school has a first point of contact within the university.

The collaboration with South Cheshire College aims to reach students in the local authorities linked to Pembroke, including Cheshire, Rochdale, Warrington and parts of Manchester.

elizabeth.gibney@tsleducation.com

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