University of Derby helps local pupils apply to Oxbridge

Online sessions aim to boost the numbers of young people in Derby applying to Oxbridge

A partnership between the University of Derby and Corpus Christi College, Oxford is bringing high achieving pupils in the city together virtually, to help them apply for places at Oxbridge.

Initiated by the University of Derby’s widening access team, the Derby Scholars Programme was launched earlier this year to address the low number of Derby city young people making applications to Oxbridge.

It is part-funded by the Derby Opportunity Area – one of 12 social mobility ‘cold spots’ identified by the Department for Education (DfE) in 2017 – and delivered jointly by both universities.

Before the Covid-19 outbreak, the programme had started on-site activities at the University of Derby for some of the city’s highest attaining pupils in Year 12 and Year 9, as chosen by their school.

The Derby Scholars Programme was developed to address the barriers, both real and perceived, which may prevent very able young people in the city from achieving everything they are capable of and accessing opportunities – Krisha Bainham, University of Derby

These activities have now been replaced by interactive online academic skills and application support sessions to support Year 12 pupils preparing applications to Oxbridge before the 15 October deadline.

Pupils will also be able to take part in a virtual visit to Corpus Christi College, which will be followed by physical visits when lockdown restrictions are lifted.

“The Derby Scholars Programme was developed to address the barriers, both real and perceived, which may prevent very able young people in the city from achieving everything they are capable of and accessing opportunities,” said Krisha Bainham, head of widening access at the University of Derby.

“By participating in the programme all learners will develop the knowledge to make an informed choice about their future direction and the skills to give themselves the best chance to achieve their ambitions.

“The lockdown may have changed how we deliver activities but it has not dampened the enthusiasm of our Derby Scholars, who are actively engaged in the online sessions.”

We were keen to adapt this sustained contact programme to maintain provision for the Derby Scholars despite the current challenging situation – Robin Murphy, Corpus Christi, Oxford

Robin Murphy, tutor for admissions and access at Corpus Christi College Oxford, added: “Corpus Christi College Oxford is extremely excited about the Derby Scholars programme, and further developing collaborative links with the University of Derby to offer tailored support to students across Derby.

“Having previously visited schools across Derby and Derbyshire, we were keen to adapt this sustained contact programme to maintain provision for the Derby Scholars despite the current challenging situation.

“We hope the focused and prolonged provision will enable students to develop the necessary skills, and provide them with the relevant information, to make successful choices for higher education.”

The development of the online programme coincides with the announcement that the University of Derby has been shortlisted for the NEON Higher Education Institution of the Year Award, which “celebrate the transformative power that HE can have and recognises key achievements in the widening access sector”.


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