ACS English Study Day

The English Faculty, Magdalen College and the Oxford African and Caribbean Society (ACS) were thrilled to welcome students from across the country to the first English Study Day for Year 12 students of African and/or Caribbean heritages, on Monday 15th April 2019.

The event was designed specifically to encourage Year 12 school students of African and/or Caribbean heritages who are interested in studying English at university, to consider applying to Oxford.

Following the release of Oxford University’s Annual Admissions Statistical Report in May 2018, the figures show that for the period between 2015 and 2017, 13.5% of the course intake for the English Language and Literature course were from BME backgrounds, and 1% of the total cohort were Black. Data from the 2015 UK universities intake show that 1.8% of students achieving 3 A grades at A level were Black, which means that the English Language and Literature cohort has only half the Black students that it should do statistically.

As part of the University’s broader commitment to widening access, we feel that much more needs to be done to present the English course at Oxford as something which is worthwhile, achievable and fulfilling to these students, and have therefore launched this inaugural study day with the aim of addressing this demographic imbalance.

The day comprised of three academic sessions involving five English tutors, a library workshop, lunch at Magdalen College, and an interactive Q & A session.

“The day provided the students with a fantastic understanding and grounding should they wish to pursue an English degree in higher education, and they were also introduced to the intimate nature of the tutorial system here in Oxford,” explained ACS Access Reps Bree and Ope. “All aspects of the day were thoroughly enjoyable, with the visit to the prestigious Weston Library being particularly memorable. During this session students were able to compare and contrast early editions of Shakespeare with more contemporary versions.

ACS ambassador Serena added, “I was honoured to help out with the African and Caribbean Society English Study Day – the sessions were down-to-earth, informative, and most importantly, interesting.

“The prospective students seemed to have a great time both in and out of the academic sessions and get a real picture of Oxford. They got to discuss literature with subject specialists in a way that you rarely get the chance to do before university. I would have loved to have gone to an event like it when I was thinking about whether to apply and really hope that such events become a regular occurrence.”

The central mission of the ACS is to provide a safe, supportive, and motivational space for students of African and Caribbean descent at Oxford. The ACS also organises different access initiatives each year, working primarily with schools which have a high proportion of black students. As detailed on their website, “Our ultimate goal as an ACS is to become a positive force for our members and a constant source of social value in the communities we work in. We believe that as a collaborative society we have the ability to empower not just our own members but everyone we have an opportunity to work with.”

Group of students at the Weston Library looking at books on a table
Group of students at Magdalen College