We carried out a project in 2021 to assess why we receive so few applications from people of colour to our programme, and to find out how we can reach those students. As part of this project, students from ethnic minorities on the programme formed a focus group and were kind enough to share their experiences before, during and after applying. In response to this survey we have made some changes to our marketing and recruitment processes, with more planned. These were the main recommendations of the report which have so far been acted on.
More and better contextual information to help identify able students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
A contextual information form is now included as part of the admissions process. In addition, we anonymise applications in order to eliminate unconscious bias, as far as possible. All interview panels are required to undergo unconscious bias training prior to reviewing applications.
More active promotion of the fully-funded aspect of the DTP
We now promote the DTP through both Twitter and Instagram accounts. We have started a database of EDI organisations that we include in our promotional campaigns. We are also collaborating with other NERC DTPs to identify additional networks. We have commissioned short videos for use on Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok and a longer film for our website. All of our material highlights that we only offer fully-funded places.
Provision of funding to support students with long term mental health issues.
Although we cannot provide funding for therapy, we are able to grant funding extensions which allow students with mental health difficulties to take more time to complete. We also offer support in how to apply for this additional funding, and how to access the counselling service. We can help in identifying affordable private counsellors and therapists and point towards hardship funding when using those services impacts on a student’s finances.
Regular discussion groups where students can express concerns and feelings openly
The DTC’s EDI committee offers weekly meet-ups where students can socialise and raise issues of concern in a safe space. The DTP’s programme manager is also the welfare officer and is always available for students to come to for support both emotional and practical.
Address perceptions about Oxford and what it means to be a “normal” student
The DTP is running a pilot programme in 2022-23, a two-day admissions workshop which aims to bring potential applicants physically to Oxford to meet Oxford staff and students, and get support in aspects of the application where disadvantaged students may need help such as CV writing, interview techniques, what assessors are looking for in an application, and imposter syndrome.
Planned for 2023 is a series of short videos to shed light on aspects of the DTC, student life at Oxford, and projects and supervisors.