Oxford reaches out via tweets

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twitter-bird-white-on-blueA new myth-busting access initiative has been launched with the hashtag #OxTweet.

The Twitter outreach effort, brainchild of second-year student Jamie Miles, aims to provide potential applicants with an insight into the real lives of Oxford students.

Several began tweeting under the hashtag earlier this year, which originally aimed to document a week in their lives. It has continued to prove popular among applicants, with the separate subject accounts attracting nearly 1,400 followers between them.

Since January, the group has grown in popularity from approximately 200 followers in February to the most popular account alone having 364.

Miles, a second–year PPEist at Magdalen, described how OxTweet had moved from a temporary initiative to a growing community: “It was certainly an organic development. It continued to grow as more OxTweeters wanted to get involved and then a community began to form.”

“It has ended up becoming a really great experience for everyone involved and it has been really satisfying to see potential applicants engage with the project.”

The primary aim of the scheme was to provide a direct link between students and applicants to dispel misconceptions about life at the University. Miles commented: “Followers find it comforting that we aren’t these superhuman beings from ridiculous privilege who speak Latin all the time. Busting that myth was what inspired the YouTube and Twitter ventures, so when people express their surprise at discovering we’re normal, it always pleases me to know that word is getting out!”

A recent tweet provided followers with a sample weekly timetable with the added caveat, “Usually less organisation and more late nights!”

David Messling, OUSU’s Vice-President for Access and Academic Affairs, applauded the initiative, commenting: “OUSU firmly believes that the best ambassador for Oxford is a current student, and there’s no substitute for finding out from current students what life is really like!”

“It’s great to see students taking their own initiatives in the cause of widening access to Oxford.”

Subjects studied by students tweeting the hashtag include Engineering, History, Law and Biomedical Science.

A secondary aim of the OxTweeters is to encourage students from less privileged backgrounds to apply to Oxford. Miles expressed optimism for the scheme’s future: “From the response the project has received so far…I have little doubt that the University and other colleges will want to get on board and spread the word to help demystify what’s involved in an Oxford education.”

He also produces YouTube videos aimed at encouraging and helping those thinking of applying to Oxford.

A representative at the Oxford Undergraduate Admissions Office praised Miles for the aid he has provided to potential applicants since his arrival at Oxford: “I think that in general he is very supportive of students looking to apply to the University.”

“He’s also quite prominent on The Student Room as well. I know he answers a lot of questions”.

Messages from the scheme’s various contributors can be found on Twitter by searching #Oxtweet.

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