Oxford targets north's students with summer school

New College. Picture by Oxford University Images.

OXFORD University is making a push to increase the number of applicants from the north by staging an exclusive summer school.

Just 1.2 per cent of applications come from Northern Ireland pupils - the lowest proportion among UK regions.

The university said it was determined to see numbers improve.

To achieve this, New College and St Catherine's College are running a summer school for Northern Ireland students and teachers, ahead of the university's open days.

Close to 90 young people and teachers are due to attend next week.

Sessions will be run by college staff, student ambassadors who attended school in the north, and university tutors. It is hoped people will then stay on to experience the open days.

New College Warden Miles Young said the biggest challenge for Northern Ireland students was perceptual.

"They don't think it is for them. We have found that the summer schools have a dramatic impact on perceptions. Those who come change their view completely," he said.

"They experience the real Oxford: they live in college, they meet current students, they interact with tutors, and many of them apply and get accepted."

Conleth Burns from Armoy, a second-year law student at New College, said he initially made a list of reasons why he would not apply.

"When I arrived in New College, the myths that I believed about Oxford began to be debunked and dismissed, one by one," he said.

The drive by Oxford comes as a union has urged universities to scrap their policy of using predicted A-level grades to make offers to students.

Britain and Northern Ireland is "out of step" with the rest of the world on admissions, according to the University and College Union.

Places are only confirmed on A-level results day, but the union argued that as few as one in six grade predictions were correct.

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