An Oxford college is to expand its undergraduate intake by 10 per cent, reserving the new places for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
University College, Oxford said that students would be eligible for its opportunity programme if they met entry requirements and were from a low-performing school, came from an area of socioeconomic deprivation, or had been in care for more than three months.
Successful applicants to the scheme will also be offered a four-week “bridging programme” before they start their degrees in 2017, including “subject-specific tuition, wider exploration of academic material, and the development of key academic skills”.
The initiative comes amid ongoing pressure from the government for the country’s leading universities to diversify their intake, and follows the decision of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, to offer a foundation year to students from under-represented backgrounds.
However, the University College initiative is likely to have only a limited impact in isolation. University of Oxford data show that the college admitted 110 undergraduates in 2015, so the scheme could create just 11 additional places.
The college said that the scheme would “ensure that very deserving students of high potential who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, but who might otherwise miss out on a place at Oxford due to the sheer number of applications, have the chance to study here”.
Sir Ivor Crewe, master of University College, which is known as Univ, said the programme would give disadvantaged students “that extra boost which other students already benefit from because of their school and family background”.
“In offering new places, we’re not reducing anyone else’s chances of gaining a place at Univ – we’re creating a new opportunity for new students,” Sir Ivor said.