Rachael Martin is a Physics undergraduate at University College who is enjoying her experience as a Lloyds Scholar and thrived at UNIQ Summer School. UNIQ is Oxford’s flagship access scheme, aimed at providing practical support to outstanding year 12 state school pupils across the UK. By 2014, UNIQ will be the largest free university summer school from a single university in the UK, with 1,000 places available. Here is Rachael’s story.
Having been unsure whether Oxford was for me, the UNIQ Summer School put Oxford to the top of my list of universities to apply to. From the friendly student helpers through to the academics, I really felt Oxford invested in their students. Having spent a year in Oxford now, I can definitely confirm this!
My main fear about applying to Oxford was that I was simply not clever enough! Making friends over the week at UNIQ with other potential applicants helped me realise that people from a similar academic and social background to me were applying to Oxford.
The tutorial system in particular made Oxford stand out. To be challenged by a top academic in the field on a weekly basis not only consolidates your understanding but also helps you realise where you don’t understand. My tutors have great enthusiasm for the subject and I always leave the tutorial excited about the next part of the course.
I strongly believe that everyone with the potential to study at Oxford should have the opportunity, regardless of financial background. Giving a talk to potential applicants with the Target Schools initiative, where school students shadow current undergraduates, made me realise how powerful Oxford’s student funding can be in breaking down the myth that Oxford is only for an elite section of society. I would love the chance to explain to potential donors what a difference they can make.
The wider support system at Oxford has been as invaluable as the funding. My summer internship as part of the Lloyds Scholars scheme was a great opportunity to get a taste of a career in finance at the same time as strengthening more general employability skills such as public speaking. From teaching environmental science lessons in local schools, through to being involved in debating for the first time, Oxford has provided immense opportunities to stretch myself academically and to develop new skills. Funding has been vital for me to make the most of the opportunities Oxford provides.