Engagement in the Wider Community

Whilst enjoying all that is on offer at Christ Church and the University, many students also get involved in helping people in the wider community. They can be found caring for Oxford’s homeless, visiting immigration detainees, and helping in local schools or drama projects.

Junior members are often keen to get involved in these activities, providing invaluable support and gaining a broad range of experiences.

Student Ambassadors

Christ Church Student Ambassadors are a group of current undergraduates who help with our access events. They provide prospective applicants with insight into life at Oxford by giving tours to visiting school groups, running subject workshops and talks, helping with IntoUniversity FOCUS graduations, contributing to our Outreach Facebook and Twitter accounts, and helping during Open Days and interviews. Each ambassador gives as much or as little time as they wish and we run training sessions through the year.

Our role is to address inequalities in education in general, and in applications to Oxford University more specifically, striving to make it possible for students from disadvantaged backgrounds and under-represented groups to make competitive applications to university. In our access work with students, parents, carers, and teachers, we prioritise precisely these groups. As well as attending state schools, the participants in our sustained contact access programmes all meet at least one of the following criteria of disadvantage or under-representation: they come from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds (measured by ACORN categories); they come from areas with low progression to higher education (measured by POLAR quintiles); they would be the first in their families to go to university; they are from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic groups; they have been eligible for free school meals; they have been in care or are young carers.

To make sure that every school in the UK has a main point of contact at Oxford, every college is allocated link regions in the UK. Ours are the London borough of Barnet and the North East of England. In these regions we work with state schools to deliver sessions about university ranging from Oxplore debating workshops with Year 7s to personal statement workshops with Year 12s, and admissions tests and interview workshops with Year 13s.

In the North East, we are part of Oxford for North East, a consortium of Oxford colleges made up of St Anne’s, Christ Church and Trinity. Students from the North East of England are under-represented at Oxford and as part of the consortium, our aims are to increase the number of students from currently under-represented groups from 15% of the current UK undergraduate intake to 25% of the UK undergraduate intake. More generally, we want Oxford University to be a realistic goal for anyone with academic talent and commitment and to improve the educational opportunities for all students, not just those thinking of applying to Oxford University.

As well as working in the regions, we invite schools to visit Christ Church, where we are able to spend more time normalising university life and demystifying Oxford and Christ Church. For lots of these students, this is the first time they have visited a university, and so we want to provide both a positive and honest view of what life is like here. During these days, we invite our wonderful student ambassadors to take part in Q&A sessions, give tours of the College, lead ‘university life’ workshops, or discuss their subjects in more depth in interview workshops. Often, we also take schools to see another Oxford college, a department or a museum, where they can practise thinking out loud and developing their reasoning skills.

Alongside these school visits, we also run two sustained contact programmes – one for students in Barnet (Christ Church Horizons) and another for students in the North East (Aim for Oxford). These programmes involve both academic workshops, given by Oxford academics, and study skills and information sessions, run by access staff. Horizons and Aim for Oxford allow us to get to know the students and offer ongoing support while helping students develop their key skills. We were delighted with the first results of our programmes: of the first generation of Horizons students, 25 of the 35 participants applied to Oxbridge, and 10 gained offers. The second generation brought us our first Christ Church offer holder, and 7 more Oxbridge offers. We have continued our sustained contact programmes under lockdown, as many of you will know from having contributed to our digital events, for which we are very grateful.

We also work outside of our link regions. We have a Christ Church Access Hub, through which we support charities, student societies and organisations who can bring groups from all over the country to Christ Church. Many of our students and staff work with IntoUniversity, whose Oxford South East branch we have funded for over five years. After a successful pilot year working with The Brilliant Club, we have become full collaborators, and on average work on events together twice a term. Debate Mate are also now long-standing collaborators: we have hosted the Debate Mate Cup and are working together on events for younger students, as well as for those approaching higher education. We also collaborate with student societies: we have funded the Oxford FirstGen Society since it was created by a former Christ Church student and Outreach Officer, Lynton Lees; together with the Oxford and Cambridge Sikh Societies, we hosted the first Oxbridge Sikh Access Conference, which we also supported in a virtual format last year. Our partners also include Onyx Magazine, Thinking Black, the Northerners Society and University. If you have any suggestions of charities and student societies for our Access Hub, you’re welcome to get in touch.

Our Student Ambassadors have produced some short videos about aspects of life in Christ Church.

>>  Register to become a Student Ambassador here  <<