Hi, I’m Dr Jo Begbie. I have been at the University of Oxford since 2004 working in a number of different roles. This has included running my own research lab; delivering lectures and practical classes to medical students as part of the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics; and being Medicine Tutor at Lady Margaret Hall College. More recently, I’ve had the opportunity to work on a pilot foundation year at Lady Margaret Hall and I am currently the Programme Lead for Oxford’s new Astrophoria Foundation Year.
The Astrophoria Foundation Year is a one-year programme for UK state school students with significant academic potential, who have experienced severe personal disadvantage or disrupted education. Applicants’ schooling and personal circumstances are considered when assessing their eligibility.
We have four exciting programmes on offer:
> Chemistry, Engineering and Materials Science
> Humanities (including Classics, English, History and Theology)
>Politics, Philosophy and Economics
These four programmes can lead on to 22 different undergraduate degrees at Oxford. If students pass their foundation year to the required level, they can proceed to an undergraduate course without reapplying through Oxford’s competitive application process.
The foundation year is also fully funded. Students' tuition and accommodation costs are covered, and a bursary is also provided for living costs. Talk about value for money! Foundation year students have access to all the same facilities, welfare support, clubs and societies as undergraduate students. They will also be part of an Oxford college and experience all the benefits this entails.
The entry requirements for foundation year programmes are lower than those for undergraduate courses at Oxford. For example, where an undergraduate course requires AAA at A-level, the foundation year requires BBB. Applications are made through UCAS, and the deadline is the 25th January.
Alongside the academic subject programmes, students take a ‘Preparation for Undergraduate Studies’ course to develop the core skills that will enable them to thrive on a course at undergraduate level, whether at Oxford or another university.
I have seen the positive impact this type of programme can have on students' lives. I have watched the confidence and academic ability of talented students soar once they are given access to a world class education. Many students from the Lady Margaret Hall foundation year have gone on to receive strong results at undergraduate level and have already embarked on a wide range of impressive careers. They are out there working in health care, being teachers, being activists and some are pursuing academic careers by going onto post-graduate degree programmes.
I believe this programme is important because we want to have the best students at Oxford, and we must look beyond grades to recognise true potential. It is important that we further diversify Oxford and make it accessible to those talented individuals who would not ordinarily consider it.
Oxford is one of the best places in the world for learning. We have fantastic facilities and teachers. You are also surrounded by people who are passionate about learning and working on exciting things. It is also a student friendly city with nice green spaces and lots going on.
You might see Oxford as posh and intimidating (understandable with our old buildings and Oxford jargon!), but don’t let that put you off. It is a place for passionate individuals and curious minds regardless of background. If you are interested in one of the subjects we have on offer, and you feel something has been holding you back from reaching your full academic potential, then this could be the programme for you.
To find out more about the Astrophoria Foundation Year, please look at our website. We are also here to help, so if you have any questions, please get in touch with the Foundation Year team at [email protected].