A group of 11 A Level students from Nottingham College’s High Pavement Sixth Form visited the University of Cambridge this month as part of the university’s HE+ widening participation scheme.

The Sutton Trust social mobility charity recently published research Access to Advantage which found that ‘independent school pupils are seven times more likely to gain a place at Oxford or Cambridge compared to those in non-selective state schools’*.

However, this scheme run by Cambridge aims to raise aspirations, and to support students from state schools and colleges to prepare successful applications to top universities such as Cambridge.

Sixth Form students from a wide variety of backgrounds are encouraged to join the scheme, including those who are the first in their family to go to university, live in postcode areas with traditionally low levels of progression into higher education, or from lower income households.

The students are taking part in a six-month-long project, including masterclasses in their subjects, information and guidance sessions, and other support, to help boost their chances of success.

During the visit, the group sampled subject masterclasses with Cambridge professors, attended a talk on how to make a competitive Oxbridge application, and got the chance to present their own academic research projects to other A Level students from local schools and colleges.

Zoe Cutter, Lecturer at High Pavement Sixth Form, and the College’s UCAS coordinator for A Level students said:

“One of the best parts of my job is inspiring students from non-traditional backgrounds to believe they are capable of attending specialist universities like Cambridge, and supporting them through the often challenging application process.

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“Peterhouse is the oldest college at Cambridge, and the chance to visit here is the highlight of the programme for many of our students. It helps to dispel a lot of myths, such as thinking you have to be rich to study at Oxbridge, and it helps make the application process more transparent.

“Our students come from such a diverse range of backgrounds, and 2018 saw some great success stories, including a student progressing to Oxbridge, and many going on to a range of high-ranking universities. Schemes like this will help our students prepare to build on this success.”

Nottingham is one of 18 areas in the UK to be involved in the scheme.

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