Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford, to pilot new Foundation Year for students from under-represented backgrounds

Lady Margaret Hall (LMH), an Oxford University College, is to launch a four year pilot scheme offering a Foundation Year ( to students from under-represented backgrounds, starting in the Autumn of 2016.

The aim is to attract the best and brightest candidates to LMH, regardless of any obstacles they may have encountered in life. The College will offer this scheme in association with Trinity College Dublin, which has operated such a programme for 17 years.

The pilot scheme will see LMH taking a dozen students who tutors think could, and should, benefit from an Oxford education, but who would not normally apply or succeed in competing through conventional channels. LMH will give them the teaching and support that will ready them to progress to a full matriculated degree course.

Alan Rusbridger, Principal of Lady Margaret Hall, launching the Foundation Year, said: “LMH was founded in 1878 to right a wrong by admitting people – women – who were excluded from the university. This pilot scheme will enable young people from under-represented groups to access the transformative opportunity of an Oxford education, while also enhancing the diversity of our student body.”

The students LMH will seek to recruit will be mainly from the same target groups Oxford University has made a priority in its Access Agreement with OFFA, the Government’s Office for Fair Access. They are:

  • Schools and colleges that historically have had limited progression to Oxford
  • Students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds
  • Students from neighbourhoods with low participation in higher education

Each Oxford College is allocated link regions in the UK and LMH will be concentrating on its regions and some schools which it has built up a relationship with over the years.

Professor Louise Richardson, Vice- Chancellor, The University of Oxford, welcomed the pilot Foundation Year and said: “Oxford is committed to recruiting the best and brightest students whatever their background. One of the many advantages of the collegiate system is that it allows us to engage in small scale pilot like this to help us identify innovative ways to recruit under-represented groups. I wish the programme at Lady Margaret Hall every success.”

Jo Johnson MP, Minister for Higher Education, said: “This pilot pioneering Foundation Year at LMH is an important, imaginative and welcome initiative to help make Oxford accessible to all. Such programmes have a key role to play in breaking down barriers and enabling people from disadvantaged backgrounds to access the benefits of a world class university experience.”

The pilot scheme at LMH will be partly modeled on the Trinity Access Programmes (TAP) Foundation Course pioneered by Trinity College Dublin (TCD). The success of their scheme is supported by robust data and evaluation and they have offered to be LMH’s partner in the venture.

TCD started the scheme because, like Oxford, the university wished to attract many more candidates from under-represented backgrounds. Today more than 90 per cent of young people who complete the TAP Foundation Course go on to take a degree at TCD. Once they start on the undergraduate course TAP TCD undergraduates perform as well as any other student.

Dr Patrick Prendergast, Provost and President of Trinity College Dublin, said: “Trinity College Dublin is delighted to be associated with the development of a Foundation Year for students from socio-economically under-represented groups in Lady Margaret Hall. Over a 17 year period, we have had great success with our own Foundation Year. Each year, over 90% of the Foundation Year cohort complete the course successfully and progress to degree courses across the university. Their degree outcomes have been impressive and they have made a real contribution to the social and cultural environment of Trinity. Indeed, our current Students’ Union president entered the university after completing our Foundation Year. We congratulate Lady Margaret Hall on this progressive initiative and we look forward to contributing to its success.”

Professor Les Ebdon, Director of Fair Access to Higher Education, said: “Targeted, long-term outreach work is one of the best ways to improve access to university for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. It’s important that universities lead from the front with work that raises aspirations and attainment so that everyone with the talent to benefit from higher education has the opportunity to do so, whatever their background. LMH’s pilot foundation scheme is an innovative and important programme, and I look forward to hearing about its impact.”

David Lammy, MP for Tottenham – one of LMH’s linked areas, said: “I have long argued that we need to increase diversity at Oxford University and action of this sort is long overdue. I fully support LMH’s pilot foundation scheme, and it is exactly the sort of thing that needs to be done. I will be following the scheme’s progress in supporting talented students from disadvantaged backgrounds progress to Oxford with great interest.”

Emma Andrews, President of the LMH Junior Common Room, said: “We’re very proud that this exciting and necessary project is starting in Oxford, and particularly at our College. The JCR are passionate about making sure all the foundation students, just like all members of our community, feel welcomed and supported at LMH.”

Niels Goet and Giacomo Arrighini , Co-Presidents of the LMH Middle Common Room, said: “We are extremely happy to see LMH at the forefront of promoting equality in education at Oxford for the second time in its history. We very much look forward to welcoming the new Foundation Year students to the LMH community, and to helping them succeed in any way we can.”


Notes to Editors

LMH’s link areas are: Haringey, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Monmouthshire, Powys, Ceredigion.

For further information please contact Jo Murray, Head of Communications, LMH: or 07961 446028.

For further information about Trinity College Dublin’s TAP programme please contact Caoimhe Ní Lochlainn, Head of Media Relations, TCD: or +353-87-9958014

For further enquiries regarding The University of Oxford, please contact Julia Paolitto, Media Manger at: or 01865 280531.

About Lady Margaret Hall

LMH was founded in 1878 to right a wrong: the fact that a great university saw fit to educate men, but not women. The foundation of a college to remedy that injustice was, in the words of the writer Vera Brittain, “the quintessence of the whole movement for women’s emancipation, the context for the equal citizenship of the mind.”

Nearly 140 years later LMH stands on the same spot. One hundred years after its foundation – in 1978 – the college opened its doors to men, as well as women. The college grew: we are now a community of 406 undergraduates, 241 graduates, 45 fellows and about 100 support staff.

It’s also an extraordinary place. Set in the great beauty of 10 or more acres of gardens leading down to the River Cherwell, LMH is a meeting place of great minds, research and learning.

LMH will always strive to overcome other barriers to learning so that it will continue to champion the “equal citizenship of the mind.”

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