OxBud: Widening Access by digitally connecting undergraduates and prospective students

IT Innovation ChallengesStudent project led by Erin Young

2015/2016 round

For more information, please contact innovations@it.ox.ac.uk


Prospective students from non-traditional ‘Oxbridge’ backgrounds are often faced with a complete unknown when applying to Oxford University. Prospectuses can seem daunting at the mere sight of the word ‘Oxford’; some are so intimidated that they do not apply, or more often they might not receive adequate support from their school or family in producing a suitable application. Indeed, many are the first from their family or school to have the opportunity to apply to Oxford, and know little about the collegiate system. Since many may never have come into contact before with anyone who has attended Oxbridge, it is important for them to have the chance to be exposed to such people, rather than simply University Open Days which can seem very daunting and ‘faceless’. We therefore propose an online platform upon which prospective students can network with and talk to current Undergraduates at Oxford University, making the institution and its application processes much more attainable.

Prospective students in GCSE/AS-level (years 10, 11 and 12) – acting as mentees – would enter into the platform the subject they are considering studying, and some information about their background. Undergraduates – Widening Participation mentors – would also do so in order to display their educational and ‘social’ background as part of their profile history so prospective students could ‘identify’ with them. Prospective applicants could then be matched with the most suitable Undergraduate ‘buddy/ies’ to whom they could direct queries about the day-to-day life of an Oxford student, and about courses, tutorials, etc.

The desktop and mobile enabled web platform will act as a hub upon which a number of ways are made available for Undergraduates and prospective students to connect. This will include links to existing communications platforms, upon which we will create areas for secure messaging, for example on a dedicated Snapchat feed curated by the current students, or a forum-type format for wider group discussions, for instance within a locked area on The Student Room.

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