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25th May 2021 Stephanie Hale

Access and Outreach initiatives move online during Covid pandemic

Exeter's Access and Outreach Officer Steph Hale updates us on the work the College is doing, including online, to continue to attract students to apply to Exeter.

Exeter’s Access and Outreach programme has taken place online throughout the pandemic, and we continue to offer online sessions to our link schools. Each session is tailored to the needs of the school group, allowing us to carry on providing a bespoke outreach experience to prospective applicants and their teachers. Many schools have joined us for individual sessions, and we have been able to reach out to schools in our new link regions of Bristol and North Somerset. Our interactive critical thinking sessions have been particularly popular with Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 pupils, and applicants in Years 12 and 13 have been able to receive targeted application support. It is a pleasure to report that Exeter’s Access and Outreach work has continued to flourish despite the restrictions we have faced.

In the coming months, the College will host a number of larger-scale events, starting with an Application Workshop for Cornish applicants on 15 June. This session will cover key elements of the admissions process, including personal statements, admissions tests, written work, and interviews. In the following week, Year 12 applicants from across the South West region will be able to join tutors from Exeter and Merton College. Exeter and Merton are part of the South West Consortium, and have teamed up to host this series of subject-specific taster lectures. This is a great opportunity to work collaboratively with our fellow Consortium member, and to interact with more applicants from the broader South West region. These sessions will take place on 21, 22, and 23 June and will replace our usual, in-person residential event, which we hope to resume next year.

The College has successfully reached out to other areas of the UK during the pandemic through the development of a series of essay competitions. As everyone began to experience “Zoom fatigue”, we felt that it was important to offer some offline provision that allowed prospective applicants and younger pupils to develop their critical thinking and writing skills. Our Summer Competition for Year 12 pupils was a great success, and led to the creation of a Winter Competition for Key Stage 4 (ages 14-16). In the next couple of weeks, we will also launch a competition for Key Stage 3 (ages 11-13) owing to the high levels of enthusiasm we have seen from entrants and schools. This competition series will remain a firm fixture in our Access and Outreach programme long after the pandemic has ended, as it allows us to support the academic development of young people from across the UK – and the entries are always a great read!

The Oxford Open Days round-off our outreach provision for this academic year. They will take place on 30 June and 1 July, and will be a virtual event again this year. Last year’s Virtual Open Days were very successful, with Exeter reaching thousands of prospective applicants from across the UK and beyond. Our staff and students will be on hand again to answer any questions about Exeter and Oxford, and we are very much looking forward to meeting applicants again this year.

As we look to the future, and further easing of restrictions, we are planning our outreach provision for next academic year, whilst focusing particularly on our current Offer Holders. Many of our Offer Holders will not have visited Exeter yet, and we are working hard to address this ahead of their arrival. A further update about our activities for Offer Holders will be available soon. In the meantime, if you have any questions about the work we are doing, please do get in touch.

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