Cambridge University is designed to host disadvantaged students who have left school with BBB A-level grades as part of a new diversity project.
The 800 year old institution is recruiting 50 students for a new founding year to increase the number of students from disadvantaged families.
The course is open to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, including students from low-income families, low-performing schools, those who have spent time in care or whose education has been interrupted due to illness.
The usual offering for students looking to study in Cambridge is at least A * AA, but the university hopes to attract talented students who have missed top grades due to circumstances beyond its control. Cambridge has stated that “a Covid-19 disorder that results in school or college closings is in itself not applicable”.
Universities are under increasing pressure from higher education authorities to accept more students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
A number of top universities in recent years have introduced “contextual offer” programs that allow students with poor backgrounds or underperforming state schools with lower grades to enter.
Professor Stephen Toope, Cambridge Vice Chancellor, hopes the program will “open up the institution to a new field of candidates and change lives”.
He said: “The students will come from different backgrounds, the common link being that their circumstances have prevented them from realizing their academic potential.
“They will benefit from our personal approach to teaching and gain confidence and understanding, and we will benefit from them joining our community and further diversifying it.”
Students who have successfully completed the free foundation year and have achieved “fair performance” can graduate from Cambridge with a degree in arts, humanities or social sciences without having to reapply.
You will be placed in one of the 13 colleges participating in the pilot, which includes some of Cambridge’s oldest and most prestigious institutions such as St. John’s, Downing and Queen’s.
Students who do not want to graduate from Cambridge or who do not have the appropriate academic qualifications are supported in their search for alternative study places.
A £ 5 million gift from philanthropists Christina and Peter Dawson will fund the start of the program and full one-year scholarships for all accepted students.
In 2019, Oxford University announced that it would offer lower-grade places to students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Beginning in 2023, 250 government students will receive free tuition and housing as part of a multi-million pound student recruitment offer.
However, 50 students in the new admission – including refugees and young supervisors – can receive offers that were created “on the basis of lower context-related A-level grades instead of the standard offers of the university”.
Those studying under the new program could be accepted into the university with offers from only ABB. This is the first time under the current admissions system that lower grades have been accepted by some students.