Today the University of Cambridge contacted UK schools to inform them of the introduction of admissions assessments for applicants to the Collegiate institution.
Helena Blair, Access and Funding Officer of Cambridge University Students’ Union, said: “It is with regret that our University has been forced to seek additional methods of admitting students. The Government’s removal of the AS Level qualification undermines the opportunities available for talented students to gauge their academic potential and demonstrate their abilities to institutions such as Cambridge.
“CUSU shares concerns voiced widely across the Higher Education sector that progress in attracting pupils from less privileged backgrounds will be negatively impacted by secondary school reforms – these have been consistently ignored by the Government in yet another attack on young people’s aspirations.
“CUSU has maintained grave concerns about the proposed introduction of admissions assessments at Cambridge and worked to assist the university in exploring options available. Since the introduction of assessments became inevitable, we have worked tirelessly within the Collegiate University to minimise the negative impact on access to Cambridge. The Students’ Union has been influential in limiting the quantity and length of assessments introduced and ensured widening participation has featured in every discussion that has taken place.
“Continued student-led input and outreach will be crucial in ensuring that prospective applicants from underprivileged backgrounds remain encouraged to apply and are supported throughout the University’s adjusted application process.
“We, at CUSU, would like to reassure prospective applicants that the assessments will form one part of the admissions process and that your application to Cambridge will always be looked at as a whole. We will work alongside the University to produce student and schools-facing resources to guide and encourage students as they prepare their applications.”
CUSU provides a range of outreach platforms for prospective applicants to receive insight and advice from current students. Our Target Scheme and Shadowing Scheme are flagship initiatives – this year’s Shadowing Scheme will bring 350 prospective applicants to experience student life by ‘shadowing’ current Cambridge students for three days during the term – and the Students’ Union’s new Alternative Prospectus will launch in March.
Sorana Vieru, Vice-President Higher Education of the National Union of Students (NUS), endorsed CUSU’s work to improve access to Cambridge and added: “It’s sad to see this extra layer of elitism being applied to access at Cambridge, but I’m glad the institution has taken the input of CUSU seriously, particularly on the issue of widening participation. It is vital that further roadblocks are not put in the way of students accessing higher education. This is the impact of short-sighted government initiatives around our education system.”