More than 10,000 school students and their teachers are expected to turn out over the next two weeks as the latest series of Oxford and Cambridge Student Conferences hits the road.
Academic tutors, admissions staff and current students from the two universities will be on hand at seven locations across the UK, armed with the latest advice on courses, the application process and student life.
The conferences begin tomorrow in Edinburgh before taking in Merseyside, Newcastle, Surrey, Lisburn, Birmingham and Swansea in a roadshow designed to give students and teachers the most up-to-date information on life at two of the UK's leading universities.
The conferences are free to attend and are aimed at students who have already completed GCSE exams or equivalent and are now undertaking further study.
Emma Hogg, a second-year Biomedical Sciences student at Oxford, will be helping out at the conference in Birmingham. She said: 'The student conferences make Oxford and Cambridge accessible to everyone and are a great way to learn about the universities without having to travel very far at all. I attended the Birmingham conference while at school, which helped me decide to apply to Oxford to do Biomedical Sciences. I’m so glad I did.
'I was initially a bit worried about applying to Oxford, because I'd heard a lot of myths and wasn't sure if I would fit in. However, I’m now half way through my course and could not imagine being happier anywhere else. Studying at Oxford has helped me to develop both academically and personally.'
Harry Rawcliffe, a second-year Philosophy, Politics and Economics student at Oxford, added: 'The north-west Oxford and Cambridge Student Conference in 2014 was the first event I went to when I was considering applying to study at Oxford or Cambridge. At that point it seemed very much a pipe dream for me – I had good grades and some of my teachers had encouraged me to think about it, but the whole thing seemed very much out of reach for me. This frame of mind quickly faded away when I got to the conference. What I soon discovered, to my own surprise, was just how "normal" the Oxford and Cambridge students at the conference were.
'Applying to study at Oxford was without a doubt the best choice I have ever made, and I am taking part in this year's Student Conferences as a student ambassador to show future Oxford and Cambridge students that I am what an Oxbridge student looks like.'
Dr Samina Khan, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach at Oxford University, said: 'Oxford and Cambridge recruit students from across the UK, and we are well aware that the potential to be an excellent student is not restricted to those from a particular background. Holding conferences across the UK is just one demonstration of our commitment to working with schools and teachers in every nation to seek out academically talented students and encourage them to find out more about what's available to them.'
Dr Sam Lucy, Director of Admissions for the Cambridge colleges, said: 'There are so many brilliant students across the country, and we want to meet as many of them as possible. These conferences help us to find students with great academic potential and passion for their subject, and encourage them to think about applying to Cambridge and Oxford. Meeting current students who went to school here and getting friendly advice from staff really help participants to make informed decisions and boost their confidence.'