Christ Church College, Oxford University / iStock

Bright pupils from deprived neighbourhoods and poor-performing state schools are encouraged to apply for the scheme

Oxford University has launched a summer school for white British boys, in a bid to increase its intake of working class students.

It is the first time the university has ever specifically targeted this demographic, which is one of the most underrepresented groups in UK higher education.

Under a new partnership with social mobility charity the Sutton Trust, male students from rural and coastal communities will be recruited for summer schools hosted at the top ranking institution.

The scheme is open to any state school pupil in Year 12 who has at least five A or A* grades at GCSE.

Applicants will stand a better chance of winning a place if they meet certain criteria such as coming from a deprived neighbourhood, being the first generation of their family to attend university and having attended a school or college with a low rate of progression into higher education.

Those taking part in the summer school will be encouraged to try subjects that may not ordinarily have been made available to them, including ancient history, computer science, law and medical sciences.

Classes will be taught by Oxford professors and students will be able to stay in the colleges free of charge.

The move comes amid mounting pressure on universities to boost diversity and increase their intake of students from lower-income backgrounds.

In her first speech as Prime Minister, Theresa May highlighted the issue, saying that white working-class boys were “less likely than anybody else in Britain to go to university”.

Sutton Trust research shows that white British boys who are eligible for free school meals - a key measure of poverty - achieve the lowest GCSE grades of any major ethnic group, with less than a quarter (24 per cent) gaining five C grades including English and maths.

Just 45 per cent of white British pupils both male and female go on to university after leaving school, the lowest rate of all ethnic groups.

Dr Samina Khan, Oxford University's director of undergraduate admissions and outreach, said: “By working intensively with one of the most under-represented groups in higher education, I hope that we can help students realise their potential and encourage high-achieving students from white British socio-economically disadvantaged areas to aim for top universities such as Oxford.'

Last year Oxford University accepted fewer state school students in than previous years, in contrast to many other universities across the country.

The Sutton Trust is currently working with 12 of the country’s top universities to run similar summer schools aimed at bright pupils from low and middle income homes.

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