More than 50 Year 12 school students taking part in the Target Oxbridge programme are visiting Oxford this week to experience life at the University.
Target Oxbridge is run on a pro bono basis by the graduate recruitment firm Rare and aims to increase black African and Caribbean students' chances of getting into Oxford and Cambridge.
The students are attending a three-day residential during which they are staying in an Oxford college, taking part in academic and skills workshops, and being given the opportunity to quiz current Oxford students at a series of Q&A sessions.
Taiwo Oyebola, a first-year Classics student at Wadham College, Oxford, is acting as a mentor for the Target Oxbridge students. Speaking to BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra's Newsbeat programme, she said: 'I was the first person to go to Oxbridge from my school, so I still didn't really think about Oxford as an option until I'd confirmed it as my first choice.'
Describing the change in perception brought about by taking part in the Target Oxbridge programme, Taiwo added: 'Everybody knows about the Oxford myths. For me, coming from a state school and living in an area with low progression to higher education, I'd always had that image of Oxford and thought "well, that's definitely not me".'
Dr Samina Khan, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach at Oxford University, added: 'What we want is students who are really academically talented, and if there are certain communities that are not sending us those students, then we go and reach out to them.'
Target Oxbridge has helped 46 black African and Caribbean students receive offers from Oxbridge since it launched in 2012. That includes 16 this year alone, at a success rate of 36% – well above the national average of around 20%.
Last month it was announced that Oxford University has helped Target Oxbridge expand to 45 places on the full programme each year, with up to 60 places on the three-day residential at Oxford.
The programme incorporates a number of strands focusing on intellectual, cultural and social development, irrespective of personal or economic barriers. These include regular contact with a black or minority ethnic Oxbridge graduate, personalised advice on A-level choices and the Oxbridge application process, and visits to both universities.