Lauren Shields, Schools Liaison, Outreach, and Recruitment Officer

Welcome back to the Access & Outreach blog.

This time we have an overview of one of our recent successful outreach initiatives, the North West Science Residential. This programme has been running since before 2017, and took a brief hiatus during the pandemic. However, in 2023 it was back and better than ever!

This year, we welcomed 28 students to Queen’s for three days at the beginning of April. I was really pleased that despite train cancellations, replacement buses, and delays, students from all across our link regions of Cumbria, Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen, and Lancashire managed to reach Oxford for the residential. After a long day of travelling on the Monday, we had a pretty chilled evening where our student ambassadors took the students out on a walking tour of Oxford.

The next day was jam packed with activities. After an introductory talk, students were given a tour of the beautiful Queen’s library, and were given some tutorial work to complete that they would hand in during their mini tutorial on Thursday. Following a spot of lunch, the students had a taster session at the Materials Science Department, where they got to make their own solar cells. Some of them then headed to the Botanical Gardens for a tour and a chat about the plants there, and some came back to Queen’s for a workshop on Crystals and Quasicrystals by our very own Professor Doye. After a long day, we went to Brasenose College for a tour, and then came back to Queen’s for dinner and a ‘pub’ quiz.

On Wednesday the weather was amazing, selling Oxford even more! We started the day with a STEM Interview Workshop, followed by a trip to the Museum of Natural History. After lunch we had the wonderful Chemistry Department deliver their Lab Lurker activity, and a representative from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory talk to us about laser targets and careers after a STEM degree. We then went for a tour of New College, and had a (very hectic and competitive!) scavenger hunt in the evening.

The final day brought the tutorials. Some students were a little nervous, but all really enjoyed meeting an academic and participating in our famous small-group teaching. After lunch, it was time to say farewell.

We asked the students when they first arrived and after the residential to rate their agreement with some statements from ‘strongly disagree = 1 to strongly agree =5’. The average score given to the statement ‘I feel confident about the application process’ increased from 2.5 to 3.9, an increase of 57%. Similarly, the average score of the statement ‘I have a good understanding of the teaching style at Oxford University’ increased by 79%. We were also pleased that the average score of the statement ‘I feel like I’d fit in at Oxford University’ increased by 16%.

I really enjoyed the taster sessions and the tutorial session. I enjoyed the opportunity to leave the college and explore the city as it helped to gain a sense of what it would feel like to study at Oxford.

Residential participant

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