OUS Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Welcome from Mike Gretton, Chairman of OUS Hampshire and Isle of Wight


The Committee of OUS Hampshire and Isle of Wight (which includes Portsmouth and Southampton) has decided to make the Access and Outreach project the top priority of our group. This project is to support the ambitions outlined by Oxford University in its specified outreach goals:

“The University of Oxford undertakes a wide range of activities to inform, attract, and support the most able candidates from all socio-economic, cultural and geographical backgrounds. We know that our main challenges lie in encouraging students from under-represented groups to apply to Oxford and in helping them to make competitive applications. As a result, our outreach activity has become increasingly targeted at those groups that are under-represented in higher education in general, and the University of Oxford in particular.”

The purpose of our Access and Outreach (A & O) project is to inspire confidence amongst students from these under-represented groups who have the potential to aspire to the very highest levels of academic achievement.

Our programme is based around working in partnership with schools and Sixth Form colleges in the county. For a number of years now, we have been supporting the very successful programme at Barton Peveril, Eastleigh and are currently expanding this successful project to other colleges.

To underpin this priority, with the support of our members, we will continue to arrange events and activities to enable alumni to meet each other at lectures, talks and visits of mutual interest. We are now planning to have events and activities at attractive venues which are more accessible to members in full-time work, and their families.

If you are interested in contributing to our Access and Outreach project, or wish to become a social member of our group, please email the Group Director.


Our members who work on the A&O project believe passionately in inspiring confidence in young people who come from more disadvantaged backgrounds to aspire to the very highest level of academic achievement.

Instilling the confidence in this aspiration is at the core of our programme. We set entry into Oxford as our goal; but we recognise that not all students will get an offer (there are 25,000 applications for 3,000 places). However, if we have helped a young person to realise their full academic potential, then we find it immensely rewarding.

At the moment, our programme is built around offering mentoring to students in 6th form colleges. We have been mentoring in Barton Peveril Sixth Form College for some time, and in 2021 students gained a remarkable number of offers: 17 from Oxford and 6 from Cambridge.

The contribution that our mentoring programme has made to this success is reflected in feedback that we’ve had from the college: 

 “Mentoring helps students realise that challenge and disagreement is not negative or personal but thought-provoking.  For many of our students, mentors offer a glimpse of the cultural capital that has not been a significant part of their own upbringing. The mentor's reward is usually observing the journey, as students discover their academic muscles and intellectual confidence.”    The principal, Barton Peveril

“Having a mentor has been so valuable in helping me push my academic thinking to the next level, improving my confidence for interviews and for my higher education to come”              
A student, Barton Peveril

In the last two years, we have extended our programme to Queen Mary’s College, Basingstoke where we now have 5 members who are mentoring students in Y13.

Looking to the future we have very ambitious plans. We are in the process of setting up a programme with three other 6th form colleges in the county and have also begun exploring opportunities with secondary schools.

As our programme expands, we have an increasing number of opportunities for members to become involved as mentors. There is no ‘typical’ profile for a mentor and the whole programme is built around what works best for both the mentor and mentee. If you are interested in learning more about what’s involved, please contact our Lead Committee member, Nick Stenning.

Membership of our Group is open to alumni who are resident in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and is subscription-free. We also welcome membership requests from alumni who live in neighbouring counties which currently do not have an active OUS group (West Sussex; Berkshire; Wiltshire and Dorset).

 If you wish to register as an OUS group member, the online process is very straightforward. Go to our page on MembershipMojo and you will see this paragraph:

“If you’re not already a member of the Branch, it’s quick and easy to join here – just press the “Join Us / Renew” button on this page and give us your details.” 

Please complete as many details as you can, of which the key ones are your name, matriculation college and date, your email address and your postcode. You will receive acknowledgement of your membership.  If you find you cannot join through the Membermojo website, please email the Group Director with the key details plus an address including the postcode.



Our OUS Group Committee organises events each year: these are usually within or close to our area of Hampshire, Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight, and they offer something that is not readily available to the general public. Members may bring guests and we welcome other OUS members (full or associate) irrespective of residence.  Up to now our events have consisted of an annual lunch with a speaker, a summer visit to a place of interest, and an autumn evening lecture.  See Forthcoming events for details about our plans from 2022 onwards.  These will continue (Covid-19 restrictions permitting) with other events and activities which are more accessible to working people.

In addition, we have created a Facebook Private Members page to enable members to connect to organise their own activities around aspects of mutual interest such as music, art, politics etc. Members are invited to join the page and to post future activities in your area of interest and to arrange meetings or visits in addition to the OUS group Committee’s organised events.

Our OUS group is planning at least four events for 2022, subject to any ongoing social distancing restrictions relating to Covid:

  • A Summer Reception
  • An Access and Outreach event
  • An Autumn Lecture with a distinguished Oxford academic on a subject of contemporary interest
  • “Freshers” Reception for those starting at the University of Oxford in October.

Further details will be announced as soon as possible.


For any enquiries about forthcoming events please contact the Group Director, and for Isle of Wight residents Sarah Kane 

Freshers' reception

Each year in late September, just before the start of Michaelmas Term, the Group holds a social event which is open to all Hampshire-based Oxford candidates who have achieved a place at Oxford (both undergraduate and postgraduate), and who will be going up to Oxford in the next week or two. The Chairman and other group members host the event, together with a few current undergraduates from Hampshire who kindly come along to chat to Freshers about their experiences at Oxford. Up to 50 Freshers have attended, and they clearly enjoy and appreciate the event, which is intended to give them the opportunity to meet and chat with other Freshers, and also to hear a bit about what they will experience in their first year at Oxford from those who have just been through it themselves. Since 2020 the Group managed very successfully to hold this event online (Zoom) and we have decided to continue in this way after the pandemic as it makes the event accessible to Freshers from all corners of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Spring lunches

A popular OUS Hampshire and Isle of Wight activity which will resume with the end of Covid restrictions. 

Recent events

These have taken place in spring/early summer and have included talks from:

  • Admiral Sir Philip Jones, on his role as First Sea Lord, and evolving UK Defence strategy (2021)
  • Dr Timothy Hands, Headmaster of Winchester College, on a range of educational matters (2017)
  • Sir Ivor Roberts, President of Trinity, on ‘Conversations with Milosevic and Other War Criminals’ (2016)
  • Lord (Robin) Butler of Brockwell, on 'My Life with Five Prime Ministers' (2015)
Summer excursions

The Covid pandemic prevented summer excursions in 2020 and 2021, but in recent years we have been to the Watts Gallery and Artists’ Village near Guildford; Chichester (for a guided tour of the cathedral and a lecture at the Pallant House Gallery); Wilton House near Salisbury, Petworth and Chawton House Library, each with separate guided tours for participating members and including a lunch. The 2018 excursion was a trip to the Isle of Wight, to visit the recently re-opened home of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, at Farringford, and also Osborne House near Cowes.

Autumn lectures

Recent autumn lectures (usually held in October, in Winchester) have included as speakers:

  • Jonathan Prest, Principal of Barton Peveril College, led a presentation in 2021 on Access and Outreach, with input from two of his current students
  • Sir Tony Cleaver on his chairmanship of various organisations including IBM(UK), the Atomic Energy Commission and the Royal College of Music
  • Professor Anne Deighton, Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College Oxford, and Professor of European International Politics in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Oxford
  • Dame Helen Ghosh, Director General of the National Trust
  • Professor Alan Barr (Head of Particle Physics at Oxford and Fellow of Merton College)

The Committee of the Oxford University Society Hampshire and Isle of Wight area, which includes Portsmouth and Southampton, is seeking to broaden the membership of an already vibrant society to include alumni of all vintages in our events and community engagement (widening access to Oxbridge and other Higher Education):

  • Events and activities for members of our OUS group. We plan to build on our current mix of lectures and lunches with member-organised activities to provide opportunities to get together for local events – social, artistic, musical, political, sporting and just simple fun! See Forthcoming events for more information.
  • Community engagement. Our priority is to support the University of Oxford in its policy of widening its intake to include students from all backgrounds and educational settings for Oxbridge and other Russell Group universities, with the emphasis on raising aspiration and maximising potential. See Access and Outreach for more information. 

If you would like to be kept in touch with these developments, and especially if you are interested in helping to organise events and activities, please email the Group Secretary for further information.

Or you can go to our online database and fill in your own details. All data will be stored in a GDPR compliant manner.

If you live in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, or in an adjacent county with no OUS group, and you wish to join and be kept informed of events, please email the Group Secretary and ask to be added to the contact list. Or, if you prefer. you can go to our online database and fill in your own details. All data will be stored in a GDPR compliant manner. 

Specific members of the Group Committee may be contacted as follows:

Group Director 

Access and Outreach Lead

Isle of Wight Lead 

Group Chairman