Earlier Oxbridge functions create new impediment for poorer college students, say consultants | Greater schooling

Cambridge and Oxford universities could also be placing “new obstacles” in the way in which of poorer candidates by making college students apply two weeks sooner than regular for a few of their best programs, consultants have warned.

The race for a spot at Oxbridge historically begins earlier than for every other universities, with sixth formers anticipated to submit their Ucas software varieties by 15 October, relatively than 25 January for many programs. This yr, nevertheless, Cambridge Evaluation Admissions Testing (Caat), which runs admissions checks for a few of the hottest programs at each universities, has introduced ahead the date to register for its checks by two weeks to the tip of September. Cambridge candidates who’ve to sit down these checks, that are a vital a part of the choice course of, can even sit them earlier in October than regular.

Some worry that giving college students just some weeks after getting back from their summer season holidays to take the leap and apply for these ultra-competitive universities might imply some pupils at state colleges not centered on sending pupils to Oxbridge will miss the boat.

Lee Elliot Main, professor of social mobility at Exeter College, stated: “On this more and more aggressive race for diploma locations, we have to be completely certain we aren’t inadvertently creating new obstacles for deprived college students who already face an unlevel taking part in subject in so some ways.”

Dr Rohan Agarwal, founding father of UniAdmissions, a industrial tutoring service that helps college students making use of to Oxbridge, stated: “We’re having individuals contact us who’re panicking. I actually do really feel for these college students, particularly those who haven’t had good recommendation from their college.”

College students have to sit down Caat checks for programs together with drugs, pure sciences, engineering and pc science at Cambridge, and together with drugs, classics, maths and philosophy at Oxford.

Agarwal’s firm tells candidates these checks could possibly be “the deciding issue” on whether or not they get a spot. He stated: “In case you are at a state college and your complete preparation for a take a look at at Cambridge is now solely 4 weeks, that’s all of the sudden very exhausting.”

He added: “When the checks had been after half-term, you could possibly spend the vacation doing last-minute cramming.”

Trainee lawyer Jack Bailey, who grew up in Rhyl, one of the crucial disadvantaged cities in Wales, and graduated with a primary from Cambridge final yr, stated neither of the 2 complete colleges he attended had a lot historical past of sending pupils to Oxbridge. He determined to use on the final minute “as a result of if I didn’t I’d all the time marvel”.

“My head of sixth type talked to me in September about making use of, and by then I solely had about 4 weeks to get my software collectively. It was manageable however positively a little bit of a crunch,” he stated.

“Your deadline is perhaps extra pressing however everybody else can be getting ready for college functions on the similar time and academics are underneath lots of strain.”

Final yr, Bailey used social media to supply to assist working-class pupils apply to Cambridge and acquired a “large response”. He stated pupils “not on the form of college the place academics coach you thru admissions checks” would in all probability discover them fairly intimidating.

Earlier this yr, Stephen Toope, Cambridge’s vice-chancellor, stated: “We’ve to maintain making it very clear we’re intending to scale back over time the variety of people who find themselves coming from impartial backgrounds into locations like Oxford and Cambridge.”

In October, Cambridge will welcome a file variety of state educated college students, 72.5% of the cohort.

Mike Nicholson, deputy head of schooling providers at Cambridge, stated it was “not very best” that checks used to fall in half-term, forcing colleges to reopen so pupils might sit them.

He stated college students shouldn’t fear about not having sufficient time to organize, and nobody ought to really feel they wanted to pay for tuition to get in. “These aren’t checks you have to be cramming for. Candidates should not meant to be revising specific subjects. That is about the way you apply your information from what you will have discovered already to unfamiliar questions.”

A spokesperson for Oxford stated it was “engaged on how finest to assist any college students who’re unable to register by the brand new deadline”.

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