On Monday 27 July, 48 students of Black, Asian, or Minority Ethnic (BAME) heritages from across the country joined outreach officers, academics and undergraduates from across the Humanities Division for a Virtual Study Day. This event was organised by University College, Magdalen College, the History Faculty and English Faculty and replaced an in-person event, which could not take place as planned in April.
Dr Samina Khan, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach, opened the event and welcomed attendees by introducing the opportunities and resources available to students at Oxford. A humanities admissions session followed, covering student life, the admissions process and super-curricular resources. Professor Sian Pooley offered an informative Q&A session following this talk.
Students then had the opportunity to engage with a subject-specific lecture, from the following selection:
English: ‘The 'World City' in Victorian Literature’ by Dr Ushashi Dasgupta
Oriental Studies: ‘Islam and Politics in the Middle East’ by Dr Usaama al-Azami
History: ‘Representing the First World War' by Dr Michael Joseph
Medieval and Modern Languages: ‘Sixteenth-century French Women’s Writing: Challenging Gender Expectations in Selected Works of the Dames des Roches’, by Nupur Patel
This inspirational selection of talks allowed attendees to delve further into a topic of their choice, and ask questions of the academic speakers about their research.
A student Q&A closed the event. This was chaired by Vanessa Worthington, who is responsible for BAME projects in the University’s Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach team. Four undergraduate ambassadors offered insightful answers to some excellent questions posed by the audience.
Reflecting on the day, Professor Sian Pooley commented that “It was wonderful to have the chance to work with so many highly motivated Year 12 students, all keen to learn more about studying humanities subjects at university. We hope that the students now feel confident that they too could be part of our next generation of brilliant humanities students at Oxford.”
One of the participants on the day commented, “The study day really showed me that Oxford cares about academic merit not background, and listening to the languages lecture motivated me to explore further into Renaissance France.”
Another participant commented, “By the end of the day, I felt that attending this institution was a more tangible goal, which I could reach through hard work, without my ethnicity hindering my chances of success."