After “an enthusiastic response”, the programme has offered around 150 more places than expectedRafa Esteve/Wikimedia Commons

More than 900 state school students studying maths and sciences at A-Level will take part in the University’s new STEM SMART programme next month.

The programme aims to support prospective STEM students from widening participation backgrounds by alleviating the disruption to their education caused by Covid-19, and encouraging them to pursue STEM degrees at top universities. Every eligible applicant received a place on the 17-month course.

The University aimed to offer 750 places on the programme when it launched in September, but more than 900 students were signed up after “an enthusiastic response”.

Dr Lisa Jardine-Wright, Physics lecturer and co-director of the programme, said that the response to the programme has been “amazing”, and that they were “delighted” to offer so many places.

As part of the programme, students will receive weekly online tutorials from Cambridge academics, as well as small group supervisions and live online lectures. Most of this teaching will be delivered through Isaac Physics, a free online learning platform. Participants will also have the opportunity to attend a 4-day residential in Cambridge.

Additionally, students will receive mentoring from current Cambridge students, more than 300 of whom have volunteered to help support the sixth-formers.


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Dr Michael Sutherland, co-director of the programme and Director of Studies in Natural Sciences at Corpus Christi College, said: “STEM SMART draws on the expertise of the University’s staff, the support of its Colleges, and the experience of its students – who came forward in their hundreds to act as mentors to these sixth formers.”

He added that the programme “will complement the vital work of teachers in schools” and that it “builds on the University’s work to help talented students access top universities regardless of background.”

To be eligible, students must attend a state school, and also fulfil one or more other criteria, including being eligible for free school meals at secondary school or living in an area where participation in higher education is low.

The programme is free, funded by the University, the Colleges, and the Department of Education England.

STEM SMART starts in January 2022, and will finish when the sixth-formers sit their A-Level exams at the end of Y13, in 2023.