How did we select participants for our 2017 programmes?


UNIQ is an access programme, which means that it is aimed at students from backgrounds that wouldn’t be traditionally as likely to progress to university. Our summer schools are closely aligned with the University of Oxford’s Office for Fair Access (OFFA) targets and we select students to attend UNIQ with the aim of increasing applications to the University of Oxford among students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds and neighbourhoods with a low rate of participation in higher education.


We use home postcode data to ascertain whether a student might be from a background where they might not be as likely to continue to higher education and in your application we looked at two factors related to your home postcode data:


  1. One factor is called ACORN which is a classification of residential neighbourhoods and measures the socio-economic wealth of the area you live in. ACORN looks at the attributes of households in your area and covers health, retail and leisure aspects: i.e. do people that share your postcode own their own homes? What type of car do they drive? Do they have Sky television?  A student eligible for UNIQ may come from a low socio-economic background, which is classed as an ACORN 4 or 5 area. You can check which ACORN category your postcode comes under on the ACORN website.


  1. We also look at something called POLAR(3), which measures the rate of progression to higher education in your area. Do lots of young people in your area go on to university? Or do many go in to full-time work or apprenticeships? A student eligible for UNIQ may come from an area with a low rate of progression to higher education, which is classed as a POLAR(3) 1 or 2 area. You can check the POLAR (quintile) of your postcode here.


Eligible students may have met either ACORN or POLAR criteria described, however, applicants whom met both criteria were preferred. As the programme is for applicants who met our access criteria, applicants who met neither criteria were extremely unlikely to be considered.


Along with your postcode data, we also looked at your achievement at GCSE (or equivalent) and the courses you are studying at A-Level (or equivalent). UNIQ programmes are academically challenging and as such, require a high level of achievement at GCSE (usually a high number of A*s) and for you to be studying relevant courses at A-Level (if stipulated on the course page).


We also looked at your personal statement, which was your opportunity to demonstrate your passion for your subject to us. You may not have received a place if your personal statement was not completed in detail or left blank, or it may have been that for our most competitive programmes such as medicine that another student’s personal statement was stronger on this occasion.


We received 4,000 applications for 875 places on this year’s summer school, which means that unfortunately we were not able to offer places all eligible students that applied. We often find that students on our most popular courses have in fact met our access requirements and have made a strong application for the course but due to fierce competition and the number of extremely high-quality applications we received, we were simply not able to accommodate them. For example, for the UNIQ medicine course alone we received 549 applications for only 40 places. You may have a strong idea of the subject you would like to study at university already, however now is an ideal time to research other types of courses offered at university (there are hundreds!) and build on your awareness of subject choice. This way, you can be sure that you are confident in your choice of course when it’s time to complete your UCAS application.


It is important to understand that if you have not been offered a place on UNIQ, this is not always a reflection on whether you’d be a successful Oxford applicant. While many students were of the high calibre required to apply for Oxford and other top universities, they unfortunately did not meet the access requirements essential for this scheme. However, the University is always looking for academically talented, passionate students to apply for its courses, so just because you didn’t meet the particular access requirements of our programme it does not mean that your Oxford journey is over.


Beyond our summer schools, the University of Oxford organises a wide range of outreach activities to provide information to students interested in applying to Oxford. If you would like to find out about our visits to schools and colleges, our representation at HE Fairs, our regional conferences for students (run jointly with Cambridge) and teachers, or our Open Days, please visit the University's Visiting and Outreach page.