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Cambridge scholars give insight into uni life

(top row left to right) University of Cambridge students Amelia Oakley, Isabelle Jefford, Anthony Wheeler, and schools liaison officer Ed Penn. (bottom row left to right) Sunderland College students Amy Bleasdale, Darren Chan and Anna Walton

Wearside students have been given an insight into life at the University of Cambridge through an event hosted by Sunderland College.

Undergraduates from the prestigious institution’s Jesus College visited Sunderland College as part of a link scheme, which highlights the benefits of attending university and the various options available to students after they leave school or college.

Students from Sunderland College and pupils from seven schools in the Sunderland area took part in the event, held at Bede Campus on Thursday (May 26).

The event focused on providing general information about higher education and attending university, the financial support on offer, and details about studying at the University of Cambridge, including the application process and student life.

Ed Penn, schools liaison officer at Jesus College, said it was important for current University of Cambridge students to engage with young people and to dispel any myths and preconceptions about the institution, which is one of the highest-ranking universities in the world.

He added: “Our visit to Sunderland College forms part of a wider tour of the region to widen access to information about Cambridge and higher education generally.

“We’re committed to ensuring our places go to the best students, regardless of school, financial, racial or religious background; nothing matters other than the student’s ability and interest in their course. Whoever they are, whichever school they attend, whether they’re the first or the fiftieth person in their family to consider university – if they’re academically high performing, a top university could be the place for them.”

Seventeen-year-old Sunderland College student Anna Walton, from Hylton Castle, is studying A-Levels in Physics, Maths, Further Maths and Psychology at Sunderland College. She hopes to gain a place at the University of Cambridge or Durham University on a maths-related course, and is considering a career in engineering or accounting.

She said: “The talk was much more detailed than any other and I found it helpful to speak to people with first-hand experience of life at the university and how it differs from any other.

“It made Cambridge and Oxford seem like a realistic option with a range of good activities as well as expert teachers. The speakers were relatable and definitely changed my opinion of the university being old fashioned and only for the rich.” 

Sunderland College organises a number of widening participation events and activities to ensure students have all the information they need to make an informed choice about university.

Local universities including Sunderland, Newcastle, Northumbria and Teesside visit the college to give talks, and trips are also organised for students to attend a range of university open days and residential trips to gain a better understanding of life as a university student.

Judith Quinn, assistant principal at Sunderland College, said: “We are committed to supporting our students throughout their time at the college and ensuring they are aware of the range of options available to them once they complete their studies. Our widening participation programme is highly-effective and has supported many students as they progress to university and higher education.

“We were delighted to welcome Jesus College, University of Cambridge representatives who delivered informative and engaging presentations to our students and pupils from local schools. These types of sessions are very beneficial in raising the aspirations of students, who may be unsure of the Russell group university process, and gives them an opportunity to find out more, before deciding on their future path.”

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