Learning More About Life at Cambridge University Gives Thousands of Teens a Sneak Preview

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Thousands of year-12 pupils from schools all over the country will be travelling to football stadiums and other major venues throughout the UK over the next two weeks to learn more about studying at Cambridge.

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I think access initiatives are incredibly important, and have been involved in several schemes as Christ's JCR Access Officer. I think it is vital to promote Cambridge as an open and accessible university which takes students on the basis of their abilities and not their background.

The annual Cambridge and Oxford Student Conferences will take place in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Manchester, Leicester, Cheltenham and London between March 15 and 29. Many schools will bring their pupils considerable distances to take part.

A well-established part of the calendar, the conferences will give accurate, up-to-date information to potential applicants and offer them the opportunity to meet current students at both universities and ask questions.

Sessions for students will give an overview of courses available at Cambridge, how to make an application, student life and finance, and the interview process. Admissions tutors will be available to talk to both pupils and teachers.

School and College Liaison Officer at Cambridge Admissions Office, Xina Moss said: "The Student Conferences are extremely popular with schools because they provide an excellent opportunity for pupils and teachers to find out more about life at Cambridge and ask anything they like in an informal setting."

For many pupils, the chance to meet university students will be the most useful part of the day. A growing number of Cambridge students are actively involved as volunteers in initiatives to increase the number of state school applicants to the university. They are keen to return to their home areas to talk to encourage potential applicants.

Among them is Ella Umansky, a former pupil of Highgate Wood School in north London. She is in her third year studying History at Clare College and will be helping at the Student Conference in London on March 29.

Ella has been involved in access initiatives since starting her degree. Last year she took part in a tour of the north-west with the Clare Access Bus which visits schools to give presentations to year-9 pupils.

"At Clare, I'm part of a group of students who run tours of the University for secondary school students, especially those from Tower Hamlets, to give them a clearer idea of what Cambridge is like and help them realise that top universities are accessible to all," she says.

"I love Cambridge and I'm keen to encourage people from all backgrounds to consider it as a valid option for higher education. I really loved my time at school and I want to make pupils from similar schools aware of the options - including those whose schools haven't sent many students to Cambridge in the past."

Duncan Ball, who is in his second year at Christ's College reading Biological Sciences, will be helping at the Student Conference in Cheltenham (March 26). He went to the Cotswold School, a comprehensive in Bourton-in-the-Water, Gloucestershire.

He says: "I think access initiatives are incredibly important, and have been involved in several schemes as Christ's JCR Access Officer. I think it is vital to promote Cambridge as an open and accessible university which takes students on the basis of their abilities and not their background."

For more information on the Cambridge and Oxford Student Conferences go to: http://www.cam.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/oxbridgeconference/

Notes for editors:

1. Conferences. The conferences will take place at seven large venues in the UK. For directions to each location and detailed schedules go to http://www.cam.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/oxbridgeconference/

•Glasgow: 15 March, Teacher Building; Morning Conference 9:30am to 12:30pm; Afternoon Conference - 12:45pm to 3:45pm

•Edinburgh: 16 March, Our Dynamic Earth, 9:30am to 12:30 pm. (Student booking is now closed.)

•Newcastle:19 March, St James' Park, 10am to 3:30pm

•Manchester: 20 March, Old Trafford, 10am to 3:30pm (Student booking is now closed.)

•Leicester: 22 March, Walkers Stadium, 10am to 3:30pm

•Cheltenham: 26 March, Cheltenham Racecourse, 10am to 3:30pm (Student booking is now closed.)

•London: 29 March, Emirates Stadium (Student booking is now closed.)

2. University

The University of Cambridge will celebrate its 800th anniversary in 2009. It is one of the finest universities in the world, a superb British university with global reach. It is renowned for its 31 colleges and world class teaching departments, ground breaking research and breathtaking architecture. It attracts the very best and brightest students, regardless of background, and offers one of the UK's most generous bursary schemes.

Cambridge was recently ranked number two in the world and the number one University outside the US, in two separate surveys, the Shanghai Jiao Tong University 2006 survey, and in the Times Higher Education magazine's world rankings.

Cambridge people have been awarded more Nobel Prizes than those from any other UK university with more than 80 laureates.

3. Cambridge Admissions Office

The principal aim of the Admissions Policy of the Colleges of the University of Cambridge is to offer admission to students of the highest intellectual potential, irrespective of social, racial, religious and financial considerations.

Two further aims are:

1. Aspiration: to encourage applications from groups that are, at present, under-represented in Cambridge

2. Fairness: to ensure that each applicant is individually assessed, without partiality or bias, in accordance with the policy on Equal Opportunities, and to ensure that, as far as possible, an applicant's chance of admission to Cambridge does not depend on choice of College

Once students are admitted, we ensure that they are given the academic, personal and, where appropriate, financial support necessary for successful completion of their course at Cambridge.

Our widening participation strategy within the UK has for a number of years focussed on trying to ensure that students with the ability to succeed at Cambridge are not deterred from applying by any of the myths and misconceptions that continue to surround the University. Other activities within our diverse and extensive portfolio of outreach projects seek to introduce students to the range of degree courses we offer and to support and enrich the study of subjects at school/college.


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