Joe Seddon stands outside his Oxford CollegeJoe Seddon

The pioneer of Access Oxbridge, the digital mentorship platform aimed at levelling the playing field for state school applicants to Oxford and Cambridge, has been recognized by the Prime Minister with a Points of Light Award.

Joe Seddon, a recent graduate of Mansfield College, Oxford, founded Access Oxbridge in 2018 and released the program in app-format this year. It was Seddon’s experience at Oxford, and what he describes as the “shock” of discovering that many of his privately educated peers had had long-term tutoring and intensive interview preparation, which motivated him to actively address the access issue.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote to Joe, saying, “I know you do this with no thought of praise or reward but allow me to offer my recognition of how Access Oxbridge is giving the most talented young people from underrepresented backgrounds the skills and confidence to win places they deserve at two of our country’s finest, world-leading universities.”

The Points of Light Award was first established by President George H.W. Bush in 1990 and its UK counterpart was launched in 2014. Since then it has been awarded on a daily basis, with the aim of recognizing “outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.” Recent recipients have been active in a variety of fields, from social care to championing global sustainability.

In a statement Joe, the 1256th recipient of the award, said, “I am honoured to receive this award from the Prime Minister on behalf of Access Oxbridge, and would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to our incredible mentors and inspirational students.”

“Education has the ability to transform lives, and we must continue to work to ensure that those with incredible talent are able to succeed irrespective of background[…] Every day I wake up with a spring in my step knowing that we have the ability to make a lasting impact on people’s lives, and empower our students to succeed without limit.”

Writing on the Access Oxbridge website Seddon says that establishing outreach programs which encourage state school students to apply is just the first hurdle in admissions. Beyond this, applicants need resources and confidence in order to approach the process on a level playing field with those coming from a private school background.


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While Cambridge’s state school intake increased incrementally in 2019, amounting to 68%, compared to 2018’s 65.2%, figures continue to trail far behind recent national trends, which show that at least 90% of those enrolling in higher education every year between 2013-2018 came from state schools.