Thousands of Year 12 pupils will learn about life at Cambridge during a series of events at major UK venues – and get tips on securing a place from local students who are already studying at the University.

It’s great to go back home to speak to students who are in the same position I was a couple of years ago. I want to tell them about my own experience and encourage them to apply. 

Matthew Coombes, Land Economy undergraduate at Homerton

The annual Oxford and Cambridge Student Conferences series is taking place across the UK this month (March) - and will give accurate, up-to-date information to potential applicants and offer them the opportunity to meet current students at both universities.

The Conferences will take place in Edinburgh, Swansea, Birmingham, Aintree, Newcastle, Lisburn and Epsom between 15-28 March. 

Cambridge students are actively involved as volunteers in initiatives to increase the number of applicants from state schools and other under-represented groups, and they are keen to return to their home areas to talk to and encourage potential applicants.

Blane Jones, 19, is a former pupil at Coleg Gwent at Crosskeys near Newport. He is in his first year studying English at Robinson College and will be attending the Liberty Stadium event in Swansea on Monday 18 March.

He said: “These conferences are such a good idea – the background information you can get is priceless when it comes to applying. I applied to Cambridge because, for me, the course content was the best in the country.

“My advice for those applying would be to enjoy the process. The interview is intellectually challenging, but essentially just a really interesting conversation. You need to grab the whole process by the collar and just go with it.”

Juliette Thomas, 19, is a former pupil of Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School in Sutton Coldfield. She is studying Modern and Medieval Languages at Jesus College and will be helping at the Conference in Birmingham on Tuesday 19 March.

She said: “When I was at school I went to the Conference in Birmingham and I met loads of people from the area that seemed really normal and didn’t fit the ‘Cambridge stereotype’ I had in my mind.

“My biggest tip for getting into Cambridge is to do as much research as you can. Read both the prospectus and the alternative prospectus, and the University website, and if you have any specific admissions queries, email Cambridge Admissions Office. Cambridge University Student Union’s (CUSU) website also features an ‘Ask a Student’ email address run by student volunteers.

“Also, don’t believe the myth that Cambridge is more expensive than other universities - there is funding for students that might find themselves in financial difficulty.”

Matthew Coombes, 20, is a former pupil of Lord Lawson of Beamish Academy in Gateshead who will be at the Newcastle event at St James' Park on Thursday 21 March. He is in his second year studying Land Economy at Homerton College.

He said: “It’s great to go back home to speak to students who are in the same position I was a couple of years ago. I want to tell them about my own experience and encourage them to apply. 

“My tip for applying to Cambridge is to make sure you can talk knowledgeably about your subject. And be resourceful if needs be. I wasn’t able to find suitable work experience in my field of study, so instead I read as much as I could in the journals I could find in Newcastle – it meant I was able to discuss the ideas with confidence during my interview.”

Ruth Augarde, 21, is a former pupil of Durham Johnston Comprehensive School. She is in her second year studying engineering at Peterhouse and will also be at the St James' Park event.

She said: “My advice would be to research your course thoroughly. Find out about the content, how the supervision works. Engineering obviously isn't something you can study at A-level, so when I was in Year 12 I was able to find out more about the Cambridge course by attending this Conference.

“I was so keen on my course and studying at Cambridge that the distance between home and Cambridge wasn't a big concern for me. I'm so glad I applied - there are so many people from so many different backgrounds here."

Sessions for students will give an overview of courses available at Cambridge, how to make an application, student life and finance, and the interview process. Admissions tutors will be available to talk to both pupils and teachers.

Rachel Lister, Head of Student Recruitment and Widening Participation at the University of Cambridge, said: “Each year, staff and students from both Cambridge and Oxford Universities hit the road and head out to all corners of the UK to try to encourage more teenagers to consider applying for the range of courses they offer.

“At each venue we go to, we invite schools from the area to bring their pupils along to ask questions and learn more about life at two of the country’s leading Universities. It’s always satisfying to inspire young people to apply, who may have previously thought a place at Cambridge or Oxford was beyond their reach.”

The conferences will take place at seven large venues in the UK. For directions to each location and detailed schedules go to

  • Edinburgh - Friday 15 March 2019, Corn Exchange – 9.30am to 3.30pm
  • Swansea - Monday 18 March 2019, Liberty Stadium – 9.30am to 3.30pm            
  • Birmingham - Tuesday 19 March 2019, Edgbaston Cricket Ground - 9.30am to 3.30pm
  • Aintree - Wednesday 20 March 2019, Aintree Racecourse - 9.30am to 3.30pm
  • Newcastle - Thursday 21 March 2019, St James’ Park - 9.30am to 3.30pm
  • Lisburn, NI - Tuesday 26 March 2019, Lagan Valley Island - 9.30am to 3.30pm
  • Epsom - Wednesday 27 March 2019 & Thursday 28 March 2019  - Epsom Downs Racecourse - 9.30am to 3.30pm

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