A Home at University: Residential Colleges and Student Access

Students who are able to live in a community on campus have better access to pastoral and peer support, and university services, and better engagement with the cultural life of the University. However, the residential colleges have not attracted sufficient students from Low SES backgrounds, who are in particular need of such resources.

The aim of this project is to widen participation in the collegiate life of the University with a focus for the time being on St Paul's College (men only) and the neighbouring Women's College (women only). The project aims to promote applications for residence from disadvantaged students and engage existing residents in the process.

We will do this by integrating with the existing programs of the Social Inclusion Unit, and by creating a part-time (ten hours a week) position, the Social Inclusion Officer. The job may be shared between a Women's student and a Paul's student.

The responsibilities of the Social Inclusion Officer(s) will include working (from an office at Women's) as a point-of-contact for disadvantaged students considering applying to college, and in residence. Paul's and Women's both have very strong records in the area of pastoral, peer and academic support. Also, this project will explore the potential of the college system for enhancing the social inclusion program of the University as a whole, and the SI Officer(s) will promote the existing SIU ambassador programs across all the colleges. The inter-college community is an untapped resource - a large pool of well-rounded students from diverse faculties. They come with a good knowledge about life on campus, and they are enthusiastic if they can be inspired and mobilised in the right way. The colleges already have a strong record of student ambassador engagement. In short, the inter-college community could contribute significantly to the efforts of the SIU. The sustainability of the project depends on promoting long-term policy and most essentially exploring the possibility of dedicated scholarships. The SI Officer(s) will also pursue both these questions, in collaboration with the project leadership.

The joint project leaders are Dr Tiffany Donnelly, Vice-Principal of The Women's College, and Professor Alan Atkinson, Senior Tutor of Paul's, and they will work with Tiffanny Junee, Director of Marketing & Community at Women's, and Martin Seneviratne, convenor of the Outreach Syndicate at Paul's.