UNIQ summer school: How it helped me

Darllennwch yn y Gymraeg

Hi, I’m Ben, I’m a Year 13 student at St Cenydd Community School in Caerphilly. I currently study History, Geography, Welsh and RE along with Welsh Bacc. I’m part of the EAS Seren hub, and hope to study history at university.


Last year, I was fortunate enough to gain a place at Oxford University’s UNIQ summer school, which I wouldn’t have known about without the Seren Network. A notice sent out by Seren alerted me to the opportunity, and it seemed like a great opportunity to broaden my knowledge base and make the most of my time during the summer period. The personal statement workshop I took part in with the Seren Network came in handy as I had to write a short personal statement as part of the UNIQ application.

Oxford is competitive 

The summer school appealed to me because of the competitive nature of Oxford and how it would help me in uni applications and in the future. I applied because it was a great opportunity to help me get into a prestigious university when it came to my UCAS application, but also gave me a taste of university life and lectures.

I was nervous to go but realised that this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I decided to study Theology at Oxford Summer school, and was sent pre-reading by Oxford for some contextual knowledge for the course I would do there, though this wasn’t vital to read before I went.

Once I got there I felt much more comfortable. Everyone was very forward, starting conversations and getting to know each other, so there weren’t any awkward or uncomfortable silences. It was just interesting to meet different people from different areas and feel welcomed. Since leaving Oxford, I have kept in touch with many of the other students through social media, so it was also a great chance to network and meet new people with similar goals and interests.

Getting to know each other

When we got to our dorms, we did some ‘getting to know each other’ activities and team games. The lectures and sessions were varied – there were lectures on the different aspects of university life, financial support, and housing. I also had sessions on university application assessments, answering the questions on the Oxford tests, and what I could expect if I took one. I had further sessions on personal statements, which helped specifically with Oxbridge and the other top unis in the UK.

Then I had lectures and tutorials on my chosen subject, Theology. The tutorials were interesting and something I hadn’t done before. We were taught in pairs by one of the professors, and I wrote an essay on a question provided by him, before going through it together and discussing the content. It was really helpful to experience the university learning style, as I now feel like I know what to expect when I start my lectures this year.

Addition to my UCAS application

I would strongly recommend it to other Seren students. It’s a chance to experience university life, before actually going to university. It helped with some worries I had about going to university, especially the social side of things. But even more importantly it greatly aided my application to other universities, and is an impressive addition to my UCAS form. If any student is thinking of applying to UNIQ, they should definitely go for it. The application itself can be used like a mock application when it comes to applying to universities.

I believe that Seren students should take every opportunity provided by the programme, as every little helps in building a strong university application, and gives you the best chance to get into the university of your choice.

UNIQ is a programme of free summer schools at Oxford University, with all courses, accommodation and meals provided. UNIQ 2017 applications close at 11pm on January 24th, visit http://www.uniq.ox.ac.uk/selection for more information on selection criteria and how to apply.

A number of the UK’s top universities offer summer school programmes, including –

If you have attended a summer school at one of the UK’s top universities and want to share your experience with us, please get in touch at seren@golleyslater.co.uk

On March 15th & 16th the Seren Network will be holding its annual conference in Newtown for students and teachers, offering the opportunity to network with other Seren students, a variety of subject workshops and panels, and the chance to engage with representatives from the UK’s leading universities.

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