The University plans to expand the Oxford residential summer school programme UNIQ by increasing its capacity by a further 500 places.
The announcement comes as admissions statistics are released, and will be seen by some as an attempt to respond to the negative attention they are likely to generate.
UNIQ was set up to help students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, or areas with low progression into Higher Education, to discover more about university life, and study at Oxford in particular.
Since it was founded in 2010 the scheme has seen over 5,500 sixth-form and college students take part in the residential week-long subject-specific programmes.
The scheme has been proven to be effective: more than 1250 UNIQ participants went on to take up a place on an Oxford course, with the University now offering 1 in 20 UK Undergraduate places to a former UNIQ student.
The extra 500 places on the programme will be funded in part by the University and in part thanks to a donation from the businessman and philanthropist Sir Michael Moritz and his wife the novelist Harriet Heyman.
Commenting on the donation, Sir Michael Moritz said: “We’re delighted that our ￡75m gift, coupled with matched funding of ￡75m from the University, has been able to generate additional funds to support an expanded UNIQ scheme.
“UNIQ has an outstanding track record in lifting the success rate of applicants to Oxford from disadvantaged backgrounds, exactly the groups that our gift is aimed at.”
The Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, Professor Louise Richardson, added: “UNIQ is a wonderful example of what can happen when bright students are given the chance to realise their potential, increase their confidence and raise their aspirations.
“The 500 extra places will enable even more young women and men to see for themselves that an Oxford education is within their reach.”
The donation from Sir Michael Moritz and Harriet Heyman also comes at a time where the Moritz-Heyman scholarship scheme is to be expanded to offer financial support to every new Oxford student from a UK household with an annual income below ￡16,000.