Partner stories: Magdalen College, University of Oxford

In the first of a new series on our blog, we want to introduce you to some of our partners around the world to learn about the success they’re having through working with their Ambassadors using peer recruitment. To kick things off, we caught up with Ed Dodson, Senior Outreach and Access Officer, and Olivia Webster, Outreach and Access Officer, at Magdalen College, Oxford.

Portraits of Magdalen College Oxford's Ed Dodson and Olivia Webster

Magdalen College, The University of Oxford

Our friends at Magdalen College are using The Access Platform to inject the power and authenticity of peer-to-peer connections and conversations into their outreach work. The College has a team of 13 Student Ambassadors who are chatting to prospective students, offering the inside track on what life as a Magdalen student is like, and answering any question that might come up.

See Magdalen College’s Student Ambassador profiles on their TAP Page.

What does peer outreach mean to you? 

Peer outreach, as facilitated via The Access Platform, is a brilliant way for us to connect our trained student ambassadors with prospective students, and to do it in a safe and secure manner. This is particularly helpful for reaching prospective students based in regions or countries that are a significant distance from Oxford. We have seen great conversations develop for both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

How do you see peer recruitment fitting into the wider outreach mix?

Outreach and access is a strategic priority at Magdalen College and the University of Oxford. Our student ambassadors do a brilliant job of speaking with prospective students and teachers at all of our regular outreach events and Open Days. This helps to demystify Oxford and increase applications from under-represented groups. 

Feedback consistently shows that speaking with current students is the highlight of any visit. But not everyone is able to reach us in person and not all of our ambassadors are available to help with events as much as they might like to (lectures come first after all!). 

A quote about The Access Platform from Magdalen College, OXford

Through The Access Platform, our ambassadors can still be engaged in outreach and contribute to our wider project. They answer questions about student life, courses, admissions, interviews etc. and often these questions develop into detailed and friendly conversations.

In addition, most of our outreach events are UK-focused and undergraduate-focused, whereas The Access Platform also enables us to reach international students and prospective postgraduate students.

What can your student ambassadors add to your outreach efforts that central/corporate teams simply can't?

We know from experience and from feedback that student ambassadors are the highlight of any outreach event. Prospective students like to meet ‘genuine’ students and hear their experience, especially if they share a similar under-represented background. Professional staff can deliver helpful information, but student ambassadors can convey experience in a more authentic manner. This is true whether the interaction is online or in person.

What sort of difference has using The Access Platform made to your peer outreach efforts?

We’ve only been using The Access Platform since May 2019 and so we’ve not yet been able to assess fully its impact on applications and admissions. However, we have seen conversations develop with prospective students from countries around the world, including Iran, Zimbabwe, and Sweden. Over the next six months we are going to be using the platform to try and reach students from a wider range of backgrounds from across the UK.

A quote about The Access Platform from Magdalen College, Oxford

What do you think are the top 3 benefits of peer outreach for higher education institutions?

First, reaching students who are located far away from your institution. 

Second, the fact that The Access Platform provides a safe and secure means of doing so. 

Third, keeping your ambassadors engaged even if they are not able to attend as many events as they would like in person.

To find out how we can help transform your recruitment strategy with the power of peer recruitment, get in touch!