London: The University of Oxford is planning to issue a new 'family guide' translated into Hindi, Urdu and Bengali to reach out to ethnic minority households in order to address the challenge of attracting deserving students from all backgrounds.
The new guide is part of a drive which includes a series of events, open days and programmes set to kick off in January 2020 and run throughout the year, to encourage teenagers from low-income households around the UK to apply.
The drive follows research which found that the extended family can play a crucial role in youngsters' decision making about the university, especially from South Asian backgrounds.
"In the past we have thought about mum and dad. The research has made us think more widely, about grandad, grandma, aunts and uncles," Dr Samina Khan, Oxford's director of undergraduate admissions, told The Daily Telegraph.
She added that schools do not always offer the "depth" of information about Oxford admissions that teenagers are looking for, so the new information campaign targetted at families is another way to inform prospective students.
"We know particularly with certain ethnic minorities, parents and the community are very big influencers. It may be that mum and dad haven't gone to university, but is there someone else in the family circle has gone to university who might be able to help," she said.
Oxford's new family guide will include information on what it is like to study at the university, what support is available for students and how much it will cost.
A number of colleges have started piloting "family days" where prospective students and their relatives are invited to meet tutors and learn more about Oxford. "This would involve spending a day in the college, in the gardens, having cake and tea," Dr Khan said.
She added: "The big effect it has is that it provides reassurance to the parents and guardians that the students are going to a safe place. They can ask questions about the cost, debt and financial support.
"It also helps them to realise that their son or daughter will fit in here. The family days are specifically for those from background where mum and dad might not have gone to university. To make it successful we invite everyone so there is no stigma attached to coming."
Earlier this year, Oxford University announced it will offer places with lower grades to students from disadvantaged backgrounds for the first time in its 900-year history.
From 2020, 250 state-funded school students will receive free tuition and accommodation as part of a multi-million-pound recruitment bid for disadvantaged students.