Cambridge graduation, 2018Louis Ashworth

Student-led outreach initiative Access Oxbridge has this week launched a new free app, offering prospective Oxbridge applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds “anytime, anywhere mentorship at the touch of a phone screen”.

The free app – available on desktop, tablet and mobile – will match Oxbridge hopefuls in their final year of secondary school with current Oxbridge undergraduates, who will act as mentors, guiding them through the application process. The mentorship will take the form of hour-long weekly video calls in which current undergraduates offer advice on personal statements, admissions tests and interviews.

Access Oxbridge – the brainchild of 22-year-old Oxford graduate Joe Seddon – was launched in 2018, with the aim of boosting the prospects of “super-talented students studying in schools which traditionally struggle to get students in elite universities”. The new app aims to build upon the successes of last year’s programme, which saw multiple mentees gain acceptance to Britain’s top universities.

In order to qualify for the scheme, prospective applicants must attend a UK state school, come from areas in the bottom 40% of the country by rates of socio-economic advantage, and have gained at least six A*s or A grades at GCSE.


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“All too often, where you start in life dictates where you end up,” says Seddon, who grew up in Morley, West Yorkshire. “It’s about time that students from Yorkshire, Wales, and other underrepresented areas are given a fair crack at gaining a place at their dream university.”

This year’s Access Oxbridge scheme has over 150 places available, and those interested in taking part can sign up online. According to Seddon, signing up to the Access Oxbridge scheme is “as easy as signing up to Twitter or Instagram”, describing the new app as “a record breaking mentorship program made for the smartphone generation”.

Oxford and Cambridge have faced great scrutiny and widespread criticism regarding the diversity of their student bodies, despite widespread efforts from both universities to move away from their historic image as bastions of elitism. Last year, a Varsity investigation revealed that over an 11-year period, nearly half of Oxbridge entries come from just the top 3.5% of schools.

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