Access & outreach
Hertford is fully committed to access. For us, this means ensuring that the very best students from every kind of background are encouraged to study at Hertford and that they are supported throughout their time at the college.
Last year our Outreach Fellow visited 40 schools as well as 15 Higher Education Fairs and multi-school events, while Hertford hosted 65 school visits to the college. Current students are actively involved in outreach, meeting prospective applicants and working to dispel the Oxbridge myths that still abound.
Our longstanding student outreach programme and reputation as a college committed to access has meant that our student body is made up of people from all sorts of backgrounds. There is still further to go in terms of encouraging applications from areas of socio-economic disadvantage, but we are moving in the right direction and will be launching more programmes to help us reach our goals.
New outreach projects at Hertford
Oxford’s biggest outreach initiative is the UNIQ Summer School. UNIQ targets students from disadvantaged backgrounds and brings them to Oxford for a week living in a college and having tutorials, lectures and lab classes. Last year, over 500 UNIQ participants applied to Oxford and 179 were made an offer – a success rate of 33%.
This year the University are increasing the number of places from 850 to 1,350 – an over 50% increase. Hertford is supporting the UNIQ Summer school by increasing the number of places we host from 50 to 200 places (four weeks of 50 students per week), which represents 15% of all the UNIQ places on offer.
Applicants from state schools are often keen to make sure that their degree has direct application to their future career. Recent statistics have shown that black applicants overwhelmingly apply for Medicine and Law, the University’s two most competitive subjects.
The intention for our new STEM Outreach post is to demonstrate to potential applicants that all sorts of subjects have a direct route into careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, and encourage students to broaden their horizons. Having someone deliver masterclasses, mock tutorials and interviews for prospective applicants across these subjects will help us reach a whole new set of students from areas of socio-economic disadvantage. This person will also help us attract more women to STEM subjects, another area of under-representation.
Research from the Sutton Trust suggests that 42% of state school teachers would not recommend Oxford to their best students, fearing they will not fit in. That statistic hasn’t moved for 10 years. Oxford has invested a huge amount in reaching out to students, but changing the perception of these teachers is the transformation we need.
The teacher network will have both virtual and real-life applications: a searchable platform where teachers can share questions, ideas, teaching materials and more, alongside real-life conferences that brings teachers together for mutual support and advice. It will allow a two-way dialogue between Oxford and teachers: Oxford can advise about subject-specific requirements; teachers can give the University first-hand accounts of the challenges they face, giving us an opportunity to work together to address them.
The network will start with Hertford’s link regions in Kent (Medway and Gillingham), Essex and Camden for regionally focused events, and at the same time use the college’s network of alumni teaching in state schools across the country to develop a pilot for the online platform.
This generation of prospective applicants take far more information from social mean and digital sources than ever before. We would like to create more explanatory video material for prospective students from backgrounds with little or no understanding of how Oxford works, as well as audio interviews and social media content. This means building more capacity into our staff resources, which will also help with the delivery and management of the teacher network.
Other outreach and student support activities
Our new projects will sit alongside the work that we already do with state schools, creating a holistic and ongoing approach to delivering the access and diversity that is part of Hertford’s DNA.
- Outreach trips
Our Outreach team visit schools, particularly targeting our assigned areas of Essex and Kent, and the London Borough of Camden.
The average expense of an outreach trip is £150, including transport and accommodation. A gift of £1,500 will cover 10 school visits in a year.
- Taster Days
Hertford offers GCSE and A Level pupils the opportunity to visit the college for an in-house Oxford experience. This includes an academic masterclass, lunch, talks and a tour. We usually hold 35 or more Taster Days a year.
A gift of £200 would cover Hertford’s costs in hosting a group of 15-20 students.
- Subject-specific days
These events target sixth formers who want to get to grips with the subjects on offer at university level.
Travel expenses can be prohibitive for some students visiting Oxford. A gift of £5,000 would allow us to cover travel expenses for up to 70 students. A gift of £700 would cover the catering costs for the day.