An Oxford undergraduate answers questions from prospective students at the Epsom Downs conference.
An Oxford undergraduate answers questions from prospective students at the Epsom Downs conference.

An Oxford undergraduate answers questions from prospective students at the Epsom Downs conference.  Credit: Jessica Bernard/Cambridge University. 

Stadium tour tackles Oxbridge stereotypes

Oxford admissions and outreach staff have taken their expertise on the road with Cambridge.

The 2015 Oxford and Cambridge Student Conferences will see outreach staff, academics and current undergraduates cross the UK to provide sixth form students considering an Oxford or Cambridge application with information, insight and encouragement.

By the end of March over 10,000 pupils and teachers will have been able to attend a free conference in their home region and have their questions about studying at Oxford or Cambridge answered. The free one-day conferences are designed to challenge stereotypes and encourage applications from bright students from all backgrounds.

At each conference, staff and students from both universities explain their application and admissions procedures, offer up-to-date information about courses, provide an insight into student life, and make themselves available to talk informally to participants about any aspect of life at university, or beyond. They also allow students to participate in a wide range of subject-specific sessions linked to the courses we offer in a single day. Students are encouraged to find their subjects of interest and take the opportunity to hear in-depth information delivered by academics who teach on those courses at the two universities. 

Dr Samina Khan, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach at Oxford University, said: 'The conferences offer a fantastic opportunity for University staff and students to promote their subject and the benefits of studying at Oxford to some of the brightest and best students across the UK. 

'With all the uncertainty about university funding and finance at the moment, it’s particularly important that we emphasise all that Oxford has to offer – not just our unique courses and personalised education, but also our generous financial support and diverse range of internship and careers opportunities.  We recognise that an important part of attracting the best students from all over the country is about going to them close to home and making information available and accessible.'

Director of Admissions for the Cambridge Colleges, Mike Sewell said: 'We believe it’s very important to hold the events in every nation and region of the UK. It’s a very practical demonstration of our commitment to working with students and teachers across the country. It is a positive way to seek out academically talented students and encourage them to find out more about what’s available to them.'

Brendan Shepherd studied A levels at a state school near Newcastle before studying History at Cambridge and now works as an outreach officer at Oxford. He said: 'As a student I wasn't sure if Oxford or Cambridge would be right for me – I worried that I wouldn't meet people who had similar interests or experiences. My experiences across both universities have been hugely positive: broad and challenging courses, engaging teaching, diverse student bodies, and many friends made.

'For me, the opportunity to encourage current students to consider that Oxford and Cambridge can be for them is a great one; the motivation I have for my job, including attending these conferences, comes directly from my own student experiences. Ahead of applying I was nervous that Cambridge wouldn't be for me – I couldn't have been more wrong and am passionate about ensuring that students from across the country feel that Oxford or Cambridge can be for them.'

Between now and the end of March, admissions tutors, academic staff and current undergraduates from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge will be travelling throughout the UK to deliver eight conferences in seven different cities. They take place in Lisburn, Merseyside, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Swansea, Birmingham, and Epsom.