The Oxford Room
Hackney's Brooke Sixth Form College has attempted to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds feel more at ease with life at Britain's grander universities

You can take the room out of Oxford, but you can't take Oxford out of the room.

A Hackney college has attempted to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds trying for a place at Britain's grander universities feel more at ease by transforming a room into a facsimile of an Oxford don's study.

Brooke House Sixth Form College in east London has also hired Dr Peter Claus from Pembroke College, Oxford, to teach students how to apply for Oxbridge.

Despite a recession and cuts in public spending, Ken Warman, the headmaster of Brooke House, even decided to kit out the garden with statuary to give it an upper-class academic air.

"I cannot tell you how thrilled we are with this project," he said. "Long-term, sustained partnerships between colleges and universities are the way to opening the doors of the very best universities to our young people. We are so pleased that BSix is leading the way."

The renovations and new "Oxbridge training" has cost the college £10,000 despite the fact only two students from the college have ever been to Oxbridge.

Warman added: "If you go to Oxford, it is a daunting experience. But if our students have already done it, they will be much more able to cope without being thrown by the unfamiliar surroundings.

"The pupils here really like it and are wowed every time they step inside because it's something different to what they usually see, especially with all the books around the room and the cosy atmosphere."

The room was designed to help college students from disadvantaged backgrounds become accustomed to the still classbound atmsophere of Britain's top universities.

Seventy-five percent of Brooke House students who go to university are the first in the family to do so and around 70 percent of current students are eligible for the soon-to-be-scrapped Education Maintenance Allowance - a benefit given to poorer students in an effort to keep them in education past the age of 16.