Growing from 41 participants in 2016, our work begins earlier in a student's journey to university to boost their chances of successfully applying to highly-selective universities.
Universify Education exists to further educational equality.
In our vision universities are open to anyone with academic potential regardless of their background. Since 2016 our year-long programme has worked to enable Year 10 students from non-selective state schools to make informed decisions about their future in education. Our aim is to empower young people to achieve their full potential in education.
Starting earlier to open access to universities
Universify was founded in 2016 by Harry and Rob, the directors of Oxford Summer Courses, a British Council and BAC-accredited short course provider. They wanted to use their experience of providing life-changing educational courses to further educational equality.
Following advice from sector-leaders Harry and Rob wanted to develop a programme that supports students earlier in their lives, complimenting the existing programmes for Year 12 students, and Universify Education was born.
Our first ever cohorts
In August 2016, we piloted our first programme in Somerville college, at the University of Oxford. 41 participants completed the summer residential before receiving monthly coaching from our team of 10 Universify volunteers, before everyone returned for the Spring residential in March 2017.
Following our successful pilot our programme almost doubled to 79 participants at Somerville for the summer of 2017.
Over 100 participants and a new host
In 2018 we partnered with our second host college at the University of Oxford, St Hugh's. Working with schools in Kent, St Hugh's link region, we expanded our programme to 120 participants.
We also partnered with Dallaglio RugbWorks, an employability charity using sport and coaching to support young people outside of mainstream education to stay in maintained education, training, or employment. RugbyWorks use their vast experience in working with young people to deliver coach training to our volunteers and run sports sessions during the residential to help our volunteers form strong coaching relationships with participants.
As we grew, so did our team, as we hired our second part-time member of staff to help us deliver our biggest programme so far.
Universify students become university students
In 2020, three years after graduating from Universify's pilot programme, participants from our first cohort took up their university offers from highly-selective universities across the UK, including Nottingham University, the University of Edinburgh, and Imperial College, London.
Independent analysis by UCAS Strobe found a significantly higher number of participants from Cohort 1 applying to university compared to a database of potential applicants.
Nadia, the first participant to arrive on our pilot programme at Somerville made her offer to study History at Somerville College, three years on.
A small charity with big ambitions
On top of the university success of our first cohort, we received a multi-year grant from Macquarie Group Foundation in 2019. The grant enabled our two part-time team members to become full-time to help build Universify into a national charity delivering our programme across several highly-selective universities and supporting students from non-selective state schools to achieve their potential in education.
Our fourth cohort saw 149 participants complete the summer residential across three colleges in Oxford, as we gained a third host partner in Jesus college.
In 2020, we expanded beyond Oxford, working with St Catharine's college Cambridge to host participants from North Yorkshire on our virtual summer programme.
We are now a team of four full-time staff working to deliver our mission, becoming a national charity, working to make universities representative and open to all with academic potential, regardless of their background.
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