Trinity is the latest college to expand its access efforts in light of the pandemicLouis Ashworth

Trinity College has set up a new outreach scheme providing academic mentoring for Year 12 students who have missed out on educational opportunities because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The scheme, which will take place entirely online, will start in March 2021 and run until December, and support 20 students through their UCAS applications and Cambridge interviews.

According to Trinity’s website, the mentoring scheme is open to Year 12 students intending to apply to study at Cambridge and who have a high standard of previous academic achievement.

The College will give priority to those from state schools (especially schools with a history of low progression to university), those eligible for free school meals, and those in local authority care as part of Trinity’s widening participation goals.

The mentoring sessions will be led by outreach practitioners at the College, as well as current Trinity students, and will run monthly on Zoom outside of school hours. 

The Year 12 students will complete assignments, essays and tasks outside of their mentoring sessions, allowing them to build independent, extracurricular subject knowledge and strengthen their eventual application to study at Cambridge in 2022 and beyond.

The College’s regular outreach schemes include residential weeks in humanities and science, open days and essay prizes, as well as University-wide outreach work with organisations such as the Sutton Trust

These were placed online last summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will also take place digitally in 2021, although the essay prizes are able to continue as normal. 

Unlike many of Trinity’s previous access schemes, which focused heavily on applicants for maths, the new mentoring scheme aims to offer support for applicants in all subject areas, allowing them to develop well-rounded knowledge of their specialisms.


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Trinity College’s Schools Liaison Office commented in an article on the scheme, published on Thursday (21/01), that it intends to “break down barriers, both real and perceived, to selective universities” and, if successful, is “likely to be expanded” to include more students and a wider range of age groups. 

The scheme hopes to aid those who “feel overwhelmed by the effects of the pandemic constraints on their learning” and provide them the support they need to access higher education, the article continues.

recent Guardian report has highlighted how children from state schools and low-income backgrounds have been particularly impacted by the pandemic. The report claims that around 1.5 million children under the age of 18 will require either new or additional mental health support due to the pandemic, with a third of those being new cases, arguing that such "challenges have been made harder by a decade of cuts to services families rely on."

Trinity’s new scheme comes as other colleges have implemented similar measures to put their existing access schemes online. 

Many are offering schemes in support of applicants from state schools and low-income backgrounds, as well as programmes aimed at supporting Year 12 students through the application process for admission in 2021/22, which is largely taking place online. Peterhouse has put together a bank of online workshops for Year 12 students, whilst King’s College already has a similar mentoring and application support scheme to Trinity, focusing on students in the College’s link areas.