- in Environment
Joe Seddon had £200 left from his university grant. He thought about spending it on a couple of nights out – but then decided to use it to help others.
“I knew how difficult it was for me to get to Oxford coming from a single-parent family going to a state school. I just wanted to help more people like me.”
The 22-year-old used the cash to set up an app that helps people from low-income families get into Oxford and Cambridge University.
The app, called Access Oxbridge, works by connecting students with undergraduates who mentor them through the application process.
“The application process is in three parts, there’s an admissions test, and then there’s the interview.
“Most people concentrate on the interview. It can seem incredibly scary going down to Oxford or Cambridge for the first time and being quizzed by a bunch of academics.”
He says the mentors will have a one-hour video tutorial session with the students through the app.
“So by the time they go down to interview that thought process feels entirely normal,” Joe adds.
Joe isn’t the only one trying to help people from low-income families get into Oxford and Cambridge.
In 2018, Stormzy launched a scholarship to help black students get into Cambridge – he pledged to fund the tuition fees and living costs of two students each year.
In October Cambridge said for the first time 3% of students were black.
Oxford university has promised 25% of students will come from disadvantaged backgrounds by 2023.
The university says it wants to tackle accusations that it is socially exclusive.
Environment ‘I was so scared I was shaking’
Joe remembers sitting at home in his mum’s kitchen when he came up with the idea of the app. His mum encouraged him.
He says he wished someone had helped him through the application process.
“I remember getting into my first interview and I was shaking I was that scared, but I just wish I’d had a little bit more preparation beforehand because I feel if I had been prepared it would have just seemed like another day in the office.”
Joe says by helping students get into the top universities in the country, he isn’t cheating the system.
“This isn’t about offering a cheat sheet about how to perform an admissions test or interviews.”
For Joe it’s just about getting students prepared and comfortable with the environment they’re about to go into.
“It’s the sort of preparation that students who attend private schools and top state schools get,” he says.