On Mon 20th March, 1,800 students and teachers from across the region attended a fully booked ‘Oxford and Cambridge Student Conference’ at Aintree Racecourse, as they prepare to make life-changing decisions about their futures.
Current Cambridge University students who graduated from local schools returned to Merseyside to inspire the next generation of brilliant minds to consider applying. Senior academic staff and students explained the application and admissions procedures, offered up-to-date information about courses, provided insights into student life, and fielded questions from visitors about all aspects of life and work at university.
Hannah Robb, now a 2nd year English student at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, graduated from Calderstones School in Allerton with A*A*A. At Aintree, she told prospective students: “Apply, you have nothing to lose. I’ve learnt so much here, and met people from all different backgrounds. It’s very challenging at times but Cambridge is one of the best universities in the world and to get the chance to study here is amazing, and I’m going to make the most of it.”
Then on Tuesday 21st, Goodison Park hosted a flagship 'Raising Aspirations' event for 350 local state school students (aged 15-16) organised by Magdalene College, Cambridge. High-achieving teenagers from 46 Merseyside schools took part in the all-day event, which included inspiring talks by staff and students from Magdalene College, as well as hearing from representatives from Everton in the Community, the official charity of Everton Football Club.
The fantastic staff, students, academics and Fellows that made up the Magdalene team.
Magdalene runs outreach events throughout the year, and as part of Cambridge’s College Area Links Scheme, provides a first point of contact for schools in Merseyside. The College has been running this event with Everton for fifteen years. Dr Cecilia Brassett, a University Clinical Anatomist, gave students a taste of what it’s like to study Medicine at Cambridge, while Alistair Mills, a Barrister and College Lecture, shared his passion for Law. The most popular part of the day was the ‘Liverpool to Cambridge’ talk given by five current Cambridge students, all from Merseyside, in which they described their journey from school to university.
One of them, Michael Daley, an Engineering student at Magdalene graduated from St Edward’s College in West Derby. He said: “Cambridge is amazing place to go and University offers so many great opportunities. I was encouraged by my teachers so deciding to apply wasn’t that difficult. I was excited by engineering so I thought it was worth a shot. I’ve loved my time at Cambridge. I’ve visited loads of factories, played with really cool robots and been taught by some amazing academics. The best thing about Cambridge is the people. They come from all over the place, so don’t have any fears about fitting in.”
Students from Birkenhead High School Academy, one of 46 Merseyside schools that attended the Magdalene Raising Aspirations event.
Sarah Devlin, a modern languages student who applied to Cambridge from Carmel College in St Helens, said: “The students we met today have huge potential and we just wanted to encourage them to aim high and consider all the options. If you set your sights on great things, you can achieve them, so just go for it.”
Cassandra Evans, Assistant Headteacher at The Grange School in Runcorn, said: “To make links with a prestigious university allows our learners at the Grange School to expand their horizons and make them aware of the opportunities that are open to them. The event gave them an insight into university life along with some insightful question and answer sessions. It was an invaluable and enjoyable day.”
By the end of March, admissions tutors, lecturers and current undergraduates from Oxford and Cambridge will have travelled across the UK to deliver similar conferences in six other major venues in Swansea, Birmingham, Newcastle, Lisburn, Edinburgh and Surrey. In total, representatives from the two Universities will meet about 10,000 students and teachers.