Lady Margaret Hall has just announced the launch of a new pilot access scheme offering a “foundation year” to students from under-represented backgrounds, starting in the Autumn of 2016. The pilot scheme, launched in association with Trinity College Dublin, who have offered a similar programme for 17 years, will see LMH taking on a dozen students who tutors think could benefit from an Oxford education, but who would ordinarily not apply or succeed in applying through conventional channels such as UCAS. They will be given teaching and support that will prepare them to progress to a fully matriculated degree course, and will be provided with free accommodation and a living allowance.
The aim of the Foundation Year is to provide teaching and support that will increase the academic confidence of students. The course includes three core modules: educational guidance and study skills; use of digital technologies; academic writing and critical thinking. In addition, students will take a course relating to the specific subject they have chosen to study. There are 21 courses available, including Biochemistry, Engineering, Sciences, English, Maths, Psychology, Theology, Classical Archeology and Ancient History, Classics, Modern Languages and a variety of joint honours courses. Students will be assessed using a combination of essays, projects, presentations and exams. Students on the course will submit UCAS applications in October for full time degree courses at the universities of their choice.
“This pilot scheme will enable young people from under-represented groups to access the transformative opportunity of an Oxford education, whilst also enhancing the diversity of our student body.”
The students that LMH will seek to recruit for the scheme will be from the same target groups that Oxford University has made a priority in its recent Access Agreement with the Government’s Office for Fair Access, including students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, students from neighbourhoods with low participation in higher education, and schools and colleges that historically have had limited progression to Oxford.
Each Oxford College is allocated link regions in the UK, and so LMH will be concentrating on attracting students from Haringey, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Monmouthshire, Powys and Ceredigion – although it will also be working alongside schools with which it has built up a relationship over the years.
Speaking at the launch of the programme, former Guardian Editor and Principal of Lady Margaret Hall, Alan Rusbridger, said: “ LMH was founded in 1878 to right a wrong by admitting people – women – who were historically excluded from the university. This pilot scheme will enable young people from under-represented groups to access the transformative opportunity of an Oxford education, whilst also enhancing the diversity of our student body.”
In a press statement, the Minister for Higher Education in England and Wales, Jo Johnson, claimed that “such programmes have a key role to play in breaking down barriers”, adding that it would enable “people from disadvantaged backgrounds” to reap the benefits of a “world class” education.
Emma Andrews, LMH’s JCR President said: “We’re very proud that this exciting and necessary is starting in Oxford, and particularly at our college. The JCR are passionate about making sure all the foundation students, just like all members of our community, feel welcomed and supported at LMH.”