Our history

  • 2009: UNIQ is funded by the Helsington Foundation for a total of five years of summer school residential activiity. The aim is to attract students who fall under two categories. Those from low socio-economic status backgrounds and students who attend schools that have little to no history of applying to Oxford.

    Starting with 500 participants in 2010, the plan is to slowly raise the number of participants each year before reaching the goal of 1000 in 2014.

  • 2012: UNIQ adopts a new brand identity to reflect its goals and aims, together with a dedicated website and marketing campaign. Forums were launched that allowed students to talk to each other before the summer schools and saw over 10,000 posts within the first six months. UNIQ now has an established identity in many schools and is regularly seeing 4000+ applications a year.

  • 2013: With additional funding from the University UNIQ launches its first overnight conference event for 150 students who narrowly missed out on a summer school place. The day saw students take part in guest lectures, learn more about their subject interests and gain key advice on making an application.

  • 2014: UNIQ welcomes 1001 students to Oxford under its summer schools programme. UNIQ has expanded from a three week operation to six weeks, directly employing nearly 150 student staff in pastoral roles and working with nearly all undergraduate subjects, together with over 15 colleges providing student accommodation and other facilities.

  • 2015: The University continues its commitment to widening access and agrees to fund UNIQ for future years. UNIQ begins to experiment with online learning, launching its own pilot program of activities for several hundred students.

  • 2016: The UNIQ selection criteria changes focus to match Acorn and Polar aims within the University's OFFA agreement. 93% of participants met one or both of these targets.

    UNIQ employs IES to evaluate the last five years of the programme and make recommendations. The report is positive, with UNIQ highlighted as being able to provide a high quality service to its student population that translates to high applications and rates of progression through the Oxford admissions system.

  • 2017: UNIQ moves away from a summer school model and introduces UNIQ Spring, Summer and Digital. Three bespoke experiences aimed to work with more than double the amount of students than previous years.

  • 2018: UNIQ secures funding by the businessman and philanthropist Sir Michael Moritz and his wife, the novelist Harriet Heyman. The funding allows UNIQ to expand the residential places available each year by 500.