Student Council discussed the motion at a meeting on Monday (23/11) nightLouis Ashworth

At the meeting of Cambridge Student Union’s (CSU) Student Council yesterday evening (23/11), the council proposed measures to tackle “inequality” in accessibility of interviews for international applicants.

The motion was raised by the Undergraduate Access, Education and Participation Officer, Esme Cavendish, who called on the University to continue the “positive development” in access from previous years. The SU also acknowledged that “online interviews go some way to address the access issues facing international students.”

During the meeting, the SU stated that they will lobby the University to “maintain and develop more extensive online interviewing services beyond the pandemic,” increase “interview opportunities in Africa, Oceania and South America” and require colleges “to give at least three-weeks interview notice for international applicants in normal years when they might want an in-person interview”.

The University has, in previous years, offered interview opportunities in both Asia and North America, but applicants from the continents of Africa, Oceania and South America are required to travel to Cambridge to be interviewed. Some departments, such as Architecture and Economics, also advise against opting to be interviewed outside of Cambridge.

The motion is intended to prevent international interviewees from being required to spend large amounts of money on travel and accommodation in order to attend interviews in Cambridge. This is particularly pressing as, unlike domestic students, no subsidisation of travel costs is offered to international interviewees. Jasmine Loo, Chair of the International Students’ Campaign (ISC) told Varsity that this “creates a financial-based disparity in applicants.”

Although the policy motion will not be voted on until the next meeting of the Student Council, members of the council appeared to support the propositions.

The SU has called for interviews to be conducted in such a way that interviewees do not feel “pressured to attend face-to-face interviews in fear of admission disadvantage,” and for the University to ensure that no applicant is disadvantaged by “what continent they come from.”

Rensa Gaunt, the Disabled Students’ Officer, noted that changes to the interview process should also be made for the benefit of disabled students, for whom the process may be physically or emotionally taxing.


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Despite interviews being held online, with no students being required to pay for travel or accommodation, international students wishing to be interviewed online from Malaysia, Hong Kong or Shanghai are required to pay a £50 interview fee. In 2017 when Jasmine Loo applied, this fee was £150, and she was “heartened that these fees have been reduced.”

All other international applicants “will be given domestic remote interview slots.” Jasmine Loo also commented that she was ‘hopeful that Colleges and Faculties will be open to communication on this’ on the basis that they ‘have striven to be flexible...for students studying remotely’ this term.

The University declined to comment both on the purpose of this fee or on whether they would be flexible when allocating slots to students in different time zones.