Two East Lothian students are set to take up places at Oxford University after participating in a unique study partnership.

Lewis Miller and Thomas Jeffrey were among 12 young people from across East Lothian’s secondary schools who travelled to Oxford for a week of learning and social activities at Exeter College undertaking a rigorous series of assessments. The young people took part in seminars, tutorials and museum visits, experiencing all that the world-class institution had to offer. 

The programme is run in partnership between East Lothian Works, the council’s employability service, initially with Exeter College and has since been expanded to include a link-up with St. Benet’s College.

It is a fully funded residential programme aimed at encouraging high aspirations and giving students an opportunity to experience life at Oxford University in preparation for the university application process. 

After continuing their studies at school, Lewis, from Longniddry has been offered the opportunity to read Ancient and Modern History at Christchurch College. Meanwhile, Thomas, from North Berwick, is planning to read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Corpus Christi College.

Lewis, who is now in S6 at Preston Lodge High School, thoroughly enjoyed his experience. He said:

“Not only was the week engaging and enjoyable, it also made Oxford seem like a normal, achievable place for all of us. I don’t think I would have applied without it.”

Thomas, now in S6 at North Berwick High School, is grateful to all staff who have supported him from the start of the programme. He said:

“I wouldn’t have even thought of applying to such an institution had I not been told to apply for the programme in the first place and I really look forward to providing as much help and support as needed for future generations using the programme.”

East Lothian Works extends thanks to all staff from Exeter, St Benet’s and East Lothian schools for their dedication and support with the programme and we look forward to working in partnership in the future.

Flourishing partnership

Cabinet Spokesperson for Education and Children’s Services, Councillor Fiona Dugdale, said:

“I’d like to congratulate Lewis and Thomas on securing places at Oxford University.

“The partnership between East Lothian Council and the University of Oxford is unique and it’s great to see it flourishing.

“I’m delighted to hear that Lewis and Thomas had such a positive and beneficial experience as part of the first programme in 2019, and that this has inspired them to apply to become Oxford students.

“We are keen to see the partnership continue as a success, offering significant educational and social opportunities. It provides young people from East Lothian with the chance to sample university life and helps build the confidence to apply for a place. I’d like to thank everyone involved in the programme so far.”

The head of Exeter College Professor Sir Rick Trainor said:

“I am delighted to see that two pupils from the East Lothian and Exeter College study programme will soon commence undergraduate degrees at Oxford. Exeter is committed to encouraging more applications from groups underrepresented at Oxford, including students from Scotland, and Exeter’s study programme aims to do this by giving school pupils a taste of what studying at Oxford is like. It is wonderful that our partnership with East Lothian Council has already succeeded in encouraging talented young scholars from Scotland to apply to Oxford. I hope Lewis and Thomas are the first of many students who experience the study programme and then set their sights on studying at Oxford.”

The Master of St Benet’s Hall, Professor Richard Cooper, said:

“It is a great pleasure to see that two pupils from the East Lothian study programme have been accepted to study in Oxford. St Benet’s is strongly supportive of widening participation from schools who send fewer students to Oxford, and we are delighted that our study programme has encouraged talented school pupils to apply and to be accepted. I hope that many more will want to gain a sense of what studying at Oxford is like, and be equally successful. We look forward to welcoming Lewis and Thomas to Oxford.”  

Published: Thursday, 24th February 2022