200 pupils will take part in the scheme aimed at helping GCSE students to “start thinking about their future pathways”Christopher Hilton

Gonville and Caius College has launched a new outreach scheme targeted at Year 11 students from state schools across the College’s link areas, with the aim to “support GCSE students to start thinking about their future pathways and what they can be doing now to give them the best chance of a successful university application in the future”.

Across six months and through seven online sessions, the programme will cover topics as broad as choosing and researching university courses, super-curricular activities and budgeting finance and bursaries. There will also be events which will teach prospective applicants about Cambridge student life, with virtual tours, taster lectures, and a talk on sport, music and societies at Cambridge. 

As part of the University of Cambridge Area Links Scheme each geographic region of the UK is linked with a Cambridge college in order to help provide more tailored outreach activities. Caius' link areas, from which students will be eligible to participate in this programme, are Hertfordshire, Norfolk and several London boroughs (Barnet, Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lewisham, Newham, and Waltham Forest). 

Caius Tutor for Admissions and Outreach, Dr Chris Scott, told Varsity that the scheme was created to help “raise aspirations of GCSE-aged school pupils in our link areas”. The programme aims to make pupils aware of their options and equip them with the necessary tools to make these decisions. Scott pointed out that some participants “may not have considered university before”. 

The programme had over 400 applicants for 200 spaces, with those unsuccessful in their applications for the full programme being given the opportunity to attend a separate one-off event. 

Participants were chosen based on “a combination of academic and widening participation criteria”. Dr Chris Scott underlined to Varsity that “widening participation is about finding students with academic potential and giving them an opportunity to realise academic excellence”. 

This latest access programme builds upon Caius’ other access and outreach work. Starting this summer, along with Christ’s and King’s, Caius will offer a “Bridging Course” which will help provide a group of Cambridge offer holders with academic and social sessions to support their transition from school to university. Caius will also be one of the first colleges to take on students as part of the University’s Foundation Year programme, welcoming Foundation Year students from October 2022. 

This comes after the college appointed Dr Chris Scott as the Tutor for Admissions and Outreach in September 2020 “to lead on the college’s widening participation plan”. Scott spoke to Varsity about how Caius have been “building our capacity in admissions and outreach in order to enhance and diversify our applicant field, both in terms of numbers and academic potential, as well as contributing to the Collegiate University’s overall efforts”.

Scott also highlighted that Caius “are proud this year to have made more offers than ever before to state school students and those with some form of educational or socio-economic marker of disadvantage”, with 72.8% of 2021 offers to UK applicants going to those from state schools and 35.4% of offers to applicants with at least one indicator of disadvantage.


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Trinity College also recently announced a new access scheme aimed at providing academic mentoring for Year 12 students who have had their education disrupted by the pandemic. Also taking place entirely online, this scheme will offer support to applicants in all study areas and will include assignments and tasks to be completed outside of the sessions.