Opportunity Oxford


Photo credit: Edmund Blok

St Catherine’s College is delighted to have been supporting Opportunity Oxford, a university-wide access initiative, since it was first piloted in October 2020. Opportunity Oxford is an academic programme that aims to prepare talented offer-holders from under-represented backgrounds for their time at Oxford so they can really enjoy their studies and life as a student.

Students invited on Opportunity Oxford are made the standard offer for their course and then take part in a supportive bridging programme in the run-up to their first term at Oxford.

The programme is designed to explore and develop high-level academic skills that will help them with their studies here. It also gives an insight into what life as an Oxford student will be like so, when participants arrive to start their degree course, they can feel confident and know exactly what is expected of them and what to expect from Oxford.

We hope that the programme will be enjoyable and rewarding and will give participants a great start to their university careers.


What does the programme involve?


All participants will be invited to a welcome day in Oxford in February. This is to give everyone a chance to meet each other and to find out more.  This will be followed by an online study component and then a residential here in Oxford in September.

The online component will begin in the Spring, and will consist of in-depth academic tasks to prepare students for undergraduate study. All necessary materials will be provided online, and students will have access to online support.

During the September residential, students will build on the work they completed earlier in the summer. They will undertake both classroom work and independent work, and will experience lectures, tutorials and, where appropriate, practical work too.

Opportunity Oxford means that students can begin their studies with confidence, have the chance to make some friends, get to know the city and gain the knowledge that they can enjoy life at Oxford.

Who is eligible for Opportunity Oxford?


The University of Oxford is looking for students with the highest academic potential, whatever their background. However, we know that factors such as socio-economic disadvantage and school performance can make it difficult for students to show the full extent of their abilities before applying to university.

To be eligible for Opportunity Oxford, students will be on track to meet the academic requirements of their chosen Oxford course, but will come from a less advantaged or under-represented background. This means you live in a neighbourhood which either has a low progression rate to higher education or is defined as being an area of relative socio-economic disadvantage.

In common with many other universities, Oxford defines progression rates and socio-economic disadvantage according to standard national data, and a student’s eligibility under one or other of these considerations is determined simply by their residential postcode.

For Opportunity Oxford, we prioritise students who have more than one marker of under-representation, and we take account of such other factors as the proportion of students at a candidate’s school or college who are entitled to free school meals, and the average academic performance of their current and previous schools or colleges.

We know that currently students from some backgrounds are not as well-represented at Oxford as they should be and we are determined that this should change. You can read more about our commitment to diversifying Oxford.

What do I have to do to participate?


All you have to do is apply to Oxford through UCAS in the normal way. If you are eligible, you will automatically be considered for a place on Opportunity Oxford.

You will know if you are successful in receiving an offer from Oxford and a place on Opportunity Oxford in January, and at the same time as all our offers for undergraduate study are made every year.



Once Opportunity Oxford participants begin their Oxford degree, they will follow an identical degree programme, receive the same tuition, be assessed according to the same criteria, and be awarded a degree on the same basis as all other students. In other words, from the beginning of their first term at Oxford, Opportunity Oxford participants will have the same opportunities and experiences as other students.

In the first year of the programme, more than 100 offers on Opportunity Oxford were made across 28 colleges. The number of offers made under the scheme is expected to rise to 200 per year by 2022.

To learn more about the Opportunity Oxford scheme and undergraduate admissions more generally please visit the university website:



If you are a current Opportunity Oxford offer-holder with questions about the programme, please get in touch at: opportunityoxford@admin.ox.ac.uk

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