Blog: October 2017

A Certified Summer Course Experience

What do you get to show for yourself upon completion of one of our summer courses? That’s a question our admissions team can happily answer as they know first-hand, the unquestionable benefits on offer to students who decide to spend 2 or 4 weeks with Oxford Summer Courses. To begin with, why choose Oxford Summer Courses? The aim of our courses is to blend world-class teaching from Oxford academics with the very best of English culture and heritage. We do this by ensuring a few things:
  • All academic content is delivered by Oxford academics (if you’re in Oxford) and Cambridge academics (if you’re in Cambridge) in small seminar groups. Students aged 16-24 will also receive tutorials (one or two students to each tutor). These sessions provide close contact with teachers who are leaders in their field.
  • Students live in colleges, situated in the heart of the university city they choose to study in. Our range of accommodation includes Wycombe Abbey (10-12s), set in magnificent rural grounds and offers a wide array of modern facilities, Fitzwilliam College (13-15s, Cambridge), credited with educating six Nobel Prize winners, and Christ Church (16-24s, Oxford), Oxford’s most magnificent college with modern en-suite rooms in a grand setting.
  • We also provide a lively programme of English cultural activities alongside our student’s academic content. British sites we visit include the royal residence of Windsor Castle, Blenheim Palace and the City of Bath, each World Heritage Sites. Activities include college tours, museum visits, river punting and much more!
With these foundations ensured, we know the value our courses bring to students. We’re proud to deliver them to consistent approval. But there is more to your time with us than that. Our students have benefitted from their experience and trust in us to deliver quality courses. It may come as a surprise to some of our international applicants that we are not affiliated with either the University of Oxford or the University of Cambridge. We are a BAC-accredited short course provider that has been operating since 2010. So, what can you tangibly take away from our summer courses? There are a variety of reasons why you might consider a summer course abroad; to gain international exposure, to explore a new subject, to polish subject skills you’re already studying – or a combination of all three! Each of these are perfectly legitimate reasons to study, though we have more reasons you may also consider:
  • Our short academic courses are not credit-bearing by default. However, you may check if our teaching model meets the credit requirements of your school, college or university. Credit requirements vary between institution, but our courses can gain you credit if they recognise our teaching model as credit-bearing (and this is quite likely due to our mirroring of the Oxford University tutorial-style of teaching).
  • Thanks to our friends at Advanced Secure Technologies, your certificate is a protected, high-quality document issued by Oxford Summer Courses. It will state your name, subject and course dates. The certificate also bears the signature of your Course Director and Principal of Oxford Summer Courses. This document is evidence of your participation and a reflection of your commitment to your chosen subject; this will undoubtedly serve you well in future university or workplace interviews.
  • Our courses have a friendly and collegiate atmosphere in which students form a diverse group of international learners from all around the world. With an international body of students, new friendships and expanding world views are an integral part of our experience. Upon graduation, you’ll auto-enrol into our society of summer course alumni. As an alumni, you will be eligible to claim a 10% discount when returning for a course the following year.
We’re committed to the delivery of excellent, impactful educational experiences. We strive to assure your time with us is spent as best as possible.

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We’re looking forward to a great summer in 2018, and we hope you can join us. 10-24? Take a closer look at our course options by exploring all our age ranges.

Posted: October 30, 2017

The Week in Education – 27.10.2017

Providing your essential education and university news. This week; the question of diversity at Oxbridge, Oxford bolster their support for start-ups and Asia edges out North America in Tech subjects.

Are Oxford & Cambridge accountable for a lack of student diversity?

Diversity and equal opportunity in the UK’s elite universities is a constantly simmering subject amongst experts and affected alike; however the heat was turned up last week following the release of what some consider damning admissions statistics by David Lammy, a former Labour minister for education.

Obtained though Freedom of Information requests to Oxford and Cambridge, the published data draws attention to a longstanding skew towards bastions of private education such as Eton as well as multiple Oxbridge colleges who did not accept a black undergraduate for several years running (2010-2015). Lammy’s article pulls no punches, concluding that with a divide so abundantly clear “it is time to ask the question of whether there is systematic bias”. A pertinent question indeed, though one which might not be answered by the “social apartheid” of Oxbridge that Lammy infers.

Core to the rebuttal is the simple fact that in order to attend, you have to apply. Lammy’s statistics deal with the overall volume of offers, without considering the number of applications. Compared to “White” applications, those from Black students of African and Caribbean backgrounds make up just over 3%. Normalising these figures to obtain the percentage of students who received an offer, we can find more parity between ethnicities – a 25% offer rate for students identifying as “Black or Black British – Caribbean” versus 28% for “White” students.

The question Lammy poses is a complex and the answer requires more than simple finger pointing. Other sources tell us that students from ethnic minorities are less likely to accept once an offer is made or to achieve their predicted grades versus their “white” peers, highlighting financial, social and educational variables that stretch beyond the remit of universities. Changing this trend is no easy task, but no less worthwhile for it and Lammy cannot be faulted for continuing the conversation around it.

Our sister project Universify works to provide students from non-traditional backgrounds the opportunity to fulfil their potential at top universities. You can find out more HERE or vote to support their application for the Aviva Community Fund


Apple CEO opens Oxford’s latest start-up incubator to compete with Cambridge

The Oxford Foundry opened last week with Apple CEO, Tim Cook, attending and taking the opportunity to share his experience and select words of wisdom with those students hoping to build their own entrepreneurial empires.

The venue has been initiated by the Said Business School and aims to build a community of innovation across the university; inspiring and supporting entrepreneurial skills while creating commercial ventures, with a focus on diversity within tech industries. With Cambridge’s history of success in this field, the rival university is quick to claim the upper hand and Oxford are keen to challenge this.

Cook encouraged budding entrepreneurs to ‘embrace diversity and recruit friends who think differently to you’. Touching on the importance of challenging feedback along with the gender bias still prominent in tech; “Leadership is about surrounding yourself with the right people. It’s sitting in a meeting room with a handful of people and asking those two people who are saying very little what they’re thinking. Maybe they don’t agree. Maybe it’s a woman and she’s not [getting the chance] to speak – that happens a lot in the tech industry.”

The Oxford Foundry will have a student advisory board and partnerships with student societies across the university, including Oxford Entrepreneurs, Europe’s largest society for entrepreneurship, with more than 10,000 members.


Asia trumps North America in Engineering and Technology

Based on the latest Times Higher Education rankings, Asia now homes more world-class universities for Engineering and Technology than North America.

132 of the 500 universities included are now based in Asia, narrowly beating the 127 institutions shared between the US and Canada. China, in particular, has made considerable investments to science and technology and the payoff from this can now be seen following the table’s expansion to 500 insitutions.

However when it comes to quality, North America still tops the table with Stanford University and the California Institute of Technology taking 1st and 2nd respectively. Massachusetts ranks at 4th, making for 3 US institutes in the top 5. Peking, Asia’s highest ranking, jumps 5 places to 7th this year but still falls short of the NA elite.

Browse our Engineering courses or download a brochure to join our mailing list and be updated of new subjects for 2018.

Posted: October 27, 2017

2017 Excursions – Bletchley Park, Codebreaker HQ

Labelled the ‘Home of the Codebreakers’, Bletchley Park tells the story of the top secret mission to crack Nazi encryptions during World War Two. Not only was this crucial to the war effort, the endeavour paved the way to early computers and the building blocks of our modern world. Originally Bletchley Park had been a Victorian estate, and the students loved exploring the 18th-century mansion. The huts which homed tens of thousands of codebreakers during the war provided a stark contrast to this; showing what conditions were like while also revealing key stories about the war. One of the rooms educated students on the importance of carrier pigeons, even during the 20th century. We were shocked to discover they can fly at up to 60mph and were dropped into warzones with their very own parachutes! Bletchley Park was also highly interactive, challenging students to make their own codes and break others’. We had the opportunity to puzzle over the enigma codes ourselves, baffling even the hardiest staff member. A highlight was the live demonstration of the Bombe – used to break enigma codes and the very first computer! Although Bletchley Park celebrates everyone who worked there, no matter how big their contribution, some parts were dedicated to certain outstanding individuals. Our students learnt all about the amazing work and mistreatment of Alan Turing, with the 2009 public apology for his mistreatment enshrined in the Bletchley museum. His office in Hut 8 was a time capsule that emphasised how amazing their work was given the conditions, working with pieces of paper by candlelight in a race against the clock. As a testament to the amazing historical experience Bletchley provides, students departed the gift shop with assorted souvenirs and puzzle books to try codebreaking for themselves. It was a truly fantastic day – in the fading sun, we all walked away amazed by the intricacies of codebreaking and the history of the people who dedicated themselves to it.

Posted: October 24, 2017

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