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12th November 2019

Exeter runs successful pilot bridging programme

Eight new Exeter College students took part in a pilot version of the College’s forthcoming bridging programme in September thanks to the generous philanthropy of an Exeter alumnus. Called Exeter Plus, the programme, which officially launches next year, aims to support students with the transition from school life to College life and help them develop strategies to make the most of their time at the University of Oxford.

The Oxford education system is internationally renowned for its rigour, with short terms, small tutorials with leading experts and a demanding workload. Adjusting to that new style of education can be difficult, perhaps especially so for students who come from schools or regions that do not have a strong track record of students going to university. Exeter Plus is designed to help these students settle into Oxford, and places on Exeter Plus will from next year be offered on the basis of contextual data on UCAS forms, indicating that they come from areas which have previously had low progression rates into third-level education or suffer from a high degree of socio-economic deprivation. Students taking part in Exeter Plus will receive exactly the same offer as other students and will have the same level of attainment.

Led by Tutor for Admissions Professor Conall MacNiocaill, the week-long residential programme provided training in critical reading and writing skills, making the best use of lectures, time management, quantitative reasoning, and presentation skills. In the pilot students were asked to produce a written piece of work on a topic of their choice, with access to the College Library to conduct research and one-to-one support from Fellows to help them structure the essay appropriately. As well as submitting essays, the students gave presentations on the final day of the programme about their research.

The programme provided students with structured classes and opportunities for independent work. It also provided opportunities for socialising and exploring the city and wider University.

Speaking after the pilot programme Professor MacNiocaill said: “Exeter College is committed to attracting the very best students to Oxford and we wish to support them in their transition to university. Feedback from the students who took part in the pilot was extremely encouraging and we will use their comments and suggestions in shaping the Exeter Plus programme for 2020 and beyond. Thanks to a generous gift from an alumnus, Exeter will be able to offer Exeter Plus to more students, underlining the College’s commitment to attracting and supporting exceptional students from all backgrounds.”

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