Oxford University is currently considering expanding an access programme inspired by Trinity College Dublin, first piloted at Lady Margaret Hall, which will now be used in two more colleges.
Speaking at the European Education Summit in Brussels, Trinity College’s Provost Patrick Prendergast called the programme “a resounding success”.
The programme works on the basis of a four-year scheme in which a “foundational year” is granted to students from disadvantaged backgrounds in order to help them to lessen the gap between them and more socially advantaged students.
The programme aims to create a level playing field, in which students of equal academic ability can compete with others regardless of their prior circumstances.
Created 18 years ago, the “Trinity Access Programme” (TAP) typically sees over 90% of its foundational year students progress to a full degree course at the university.
Though Prendergast admits that helping every disadvantaged student is “a task well beyond us”, he believes that TAP helps to identify students with “an aptitude for higher education” who might otherwise struggle and to help them progress academically despite any difficulties they have faced and to create a diverse student body. He believes that the fact that many other Irish universities have adopted similar systems demonstrates TAP’s success.
Whilst Oxford offers many outreach schemes, efforts continue to tackle inequality at the university, and Cliona Hannon (TAP’s director) has confirmed that 70% who took part in LMH’s foundational year scheme progressed on to work towards a full degree at the university.
With the support of Vice Chancellor Louise Richardson, the scheme is set to be expanded to two more Oxford colleges in association with TAP.
Commenting on the effects of the programme Prendergast highlighted its ability to help students from a range of backgrounds who might otherwise “fall through the gaps.”