Christ Church, one of Oxford University's largest colleges, is to launch a suite of new initiatives aimed at attracting applicants from a wider range of backgrounds and improving the student experience for undergraduates from lower-income families.
The scheme will help support less well-off students during their studies, both financially and with their career development.
The measures include four new scholarships for students with outstanding academic potential from low or middle-income households, as well as a series of summer bursaries to help students carry out internships or other work placements.
Christ Church is also introducing maintenance subsidies for accommodation and food, and will set up a new access hub to strengthen and extend its existing links with organisations that promote aspirational thinking among young people from less advantaged backgrounds.
The scheme has been made possible thanks to the generosity of past Christ Church students and will complement the existing financial support package provided by the University.
Dr Jennifer Yee, Tutor for Admissions at Christ Church, said: 'I came to Christ Church from a completely non-Oxford background myself, and I've found it to be a remarkably friendly and relaxed place. The people here come from much more diverse backgrounds than you might think, but maintaining and broadening that diversity is something we need to work on. That's why we're introducing these new access initiatives.'
The Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, said: 'Christ Church is pleased to be building on its existing access enterprises, such as our partnership with IntoUniversity. This new suite of initiatives will, we hope, continue our work in this arena. We are pleased to be working with the University and colleges in this endeavour.'
The new initiatives are as follows:
• Four annual scholarships (to run for the full three or four years of study). These Christ Church Prize Scholarships will be awarded to students who show outstanding academic potential and who come from low or middle-income households, or have a 'widening participation' flag as defined by the Office for Fair Access. The scholarships will provide up to £13,500 per year, including a £3,000 tuition fee reduction, and will be available to students who miss out on one of the University's Moritz-Heyman Scholarships.
• Christ Church will offer maintenance subsidies of up to 50% on accommodation and catering to students from low or middle-income categories who are not in receipt of a Moritz-Heyman or Christ Church Prize scholarship. These subsidies will supplement the Oxford Bursaries offered by the University.
• Recent studies have shown the importance of internships in securing graduate-level jobs. Students from low or middle-income families often have more difficulty taking up unpaid or low-paid internships in the commercial and charity sectors, or other kinds of unpaid work such as laboratory placements. Students will now be able to apply for Christ Church summer bursaries to help meet living costs during career-development activities in the summer vacations.
• In addition to these student support initiatives, Christ Church is keen to build on its work to help raise aspirations in schools and areas with little track record of sending pupils into higher education, and to help particularly promising students in preparing Oxford applications. The college is appointing new staff who will pursue these aims by working directly with schools and visiting groups. A new Christ Church Access Hub will also make it possible for the college to extend its existing links with other initiatives and charities that widen access to Oxford and participation in higher education in general. Christ Church is already one of the partners supporting the successful educational charity IntoUniversity Oxford South East, alongside the University of Oxford and the Queen's Trust.