Trinity’s TAP access programme inspires Oxford and Cambridge foundation courses

Posted on: 06 May 2022

More than 100 students from under-represented backgrounds will this year gain access to a fully-funded place at Oxford or Cambridge after both British universities launched their first full foundation year programmes inspired by the hugely successful Trinity Access Programmes (TAP) launched by Trinity College Dublin in 1993  

Lady Margaret Hall (LMH), one of the colleges of Oxford University, collaborated with TAP to pilot a Foundation Course programme in 2016, aiming to increase participation of under-represented groups within the university.  

The success of this pilot has led to further expansion of the programme to a total of ten Oxford colleges. 

Former director of TAP, Dr Cliona Hannon, who was seconded by Trinity in 2016 as a Visiting Fellow and Course Director to support LMH in developing its foundation year, said: 

 The strong track record of TAP TCD students , our evidence-base and the commitment of our university community inspired and encouraged LMH and then Oxford University as a whole. It has been phenomenal to see the quality of student LMH has discovered through its foundation year.  Like Trinity did, LMH has proven the case that talent exists in all communities, and in under-represented socio-economic groups, that talent is often combined with resilience, flexibility, open-mindedness and originality.

In 2021, over 95% of Trinity Access Foundation course students progressed to undergraduate studies at Trinity College Dublin. Having achieved similar success, the LMH programme willbe expanded under the Astrophoria Foundation Year programme to a further 10 Oxford colleges and allow 50 students who have faced severe barriers to education a fully funded one year place which will allow them to progress into further study. 

Former principal of LMH and pioneer of the course Alan Rusbridger said: 

Creating a more level admissions playing field is not dumbing down, but helping up. Foundation years are a very powerful tool in allowing extraordinarily talented and committed young people to have an Oxford education. A commitment to social mobility doesn’t have to be in tension with excellence: quite the opposite. It is to Oxford’s credit that it has allowed innovative experiments at individual colleges. 

One of the students from the pilot scheme in LMH said:

I think my best piece of advice for someone in that situation is, give it a try. You know, don’t limit yourself to just doing something close to home or think ‘it’s not for me’ or ‘I can never get in’ – listen, try. Try, and you’d be very surprised what can happen. 

Cambridge University has also offered 52 students a fully funded place on its  first ever foundation course starting in October 2022. 

For more information about Trinity Access visit