Meet the A-Team

Adjustment students #GoingtoCambridge

Among the fresh faces starting at the University of Cambridge this term will be 67 students whose stunning A-level results earned them a place under the University's new Adjustment* scheme.

Although they narrowly missed out on a place following their original application and interview, all were given the chance to reconsider Cambridge if they performed beyond expectations in their exams.

Here are some of their inspirational stories.

Katie Yuan

Achieved: Maths A*, Further Maths A*, Geography A*, Economics A*

Accepted to: Economics at Murray Edwards College

“When I found out I had a place I just went silent - but the shock was even bigger for my parents.” 

Katie is the first pupil from her school, Whitley Academy in Coventry, to study at Cambridge. Even though she knew about Adjustment she didn’t get her hopes up, even going as far as not telling her parents she was eligible, because she didn’t know how many places would be available. “Adjustment is a fantastic idea - it opens the door for lots of people from lots of backgrounds."

Kaan Evcimen 

Achieved: Maths A*, Further Maths A*, Physics A*

Accepted to: Natural Sciences at Trinity Hall

“When I got my results I called my mum and told her about my grades. At first she didn’t believe me & then she just started crying.”

City & Islington College student Kaan lives in a three-bedroom council flat with his Turkish parents and two siblings in London, but was home alone when he received his results - his whole family had gone on holiday to Turkey. By the time he heard about his Adjustment place late in the evening, he admits to being “in shock”, and called his family in Turkey, waking them up to share the good news. “They were with me from the start, and they were so proud when I got a place because they knew how much Cambridge and my grades meant to me.”

Mimi Poulton

Achieved: English Literature A*, History A*, Drama A* and an EPQ.

Accepted to: History at Selwyn College

“On A-level results day, I spent the whole day making sure I was in range of a phone signal.”

A Cowes Enterprise College student, Mimi already had an unconditional offer from another university when she was told of her eligibility for Adjustment at Cambridge. She admits that while the unconditional place could have tempted her to ease up, the offer of Adjustment “felt like it wasn’t over yet, my hard work and effort could still be rewarded. It was really motivating.” Although she tried not to get her hopes up just in case, being accepted into Selwyn was “like opening my results all over again” and she says her mum was extremely proud.

Zein Al-Hindawi

Achieved: Biology A*, Chemistry A*, Maths A*

Accepted to: Medicine at Queens’ College

“Many students from state schools think applying to Cambridge is a waste of time and they’re not going to get in because you have to be incredibly smart, when actually you just need to work really hard.”

Zein achieved the highest mark in Biology and Chemistry at his school, the London Academy of Excellence. His parents fled Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, and passed on their love of learning to him: his father studied Engineering, his mother English. A close friend developed cancer, inspiring him to pursue a medical career that he hopes will lead to a specialism in oncology. Zein’s school encourages its graduates to return to inspire future generations.

Kiru Kiddinan

Achieved: Maths A*, Economics A*, Further Maths A

Accepted to: Law at St Catharine’s College

“Adjustment just made me work even harder to prove I could do it.”

Kiru lives in Harrow, Greater London with his mum. His parents moved to Europe after fleeing civil war in Sri Lanka, which caused them to fear for their lives. Kiru spoke no English at the age of seven when his family moved to London from Switzerland. He is now trilingual, speaking Italian, Tamil (which he speaks at home with his family) and English. He studied three hours a day after school to score top A-level grades and partly attributes his success to his ability to stay focused.

Nikodem Czarlinski

Achieved: Maths A*, Further Maths A*, Physics A*, Chemistry A*

Accepted to: Engineering at Trinity College

“Adjustment felt like a second chance and I kept the possibility in the back of my mind right through my exams.”

Nikodem took his A-levels at The Priory Academy LSST in Lincoln. His family moved to the UK from Poland when he was four years old to make a better life for themselves and their family. They settled in Lincoln and took jobs in local factories. Nikodem says his parents always supported him, and taught him the value of hard work in opening doors and making life easier in the future. He joined the Air Cadets and loves flying: he’s on his way to getting his pilot’s licence and is interested in aerospace as a potential career.

Alessandro Mettry

Achieved: Biology A*, Chemistry A*, Maths A*, Further Maths A*

Accepted to: Natural Sciences at Sidney Sussex College

“I was inspired by reading Stephen Hawking’s 'A Brief History of Time'. I kept telling myself I couldn’t compete with those who get 12 A*s, but I did it!”

Alessandro studied for his A-levels at Bhasvic College in Hove, East Sussex. He and his family came to the UK during his GCSEs as economic migrants from Italy, where his Egyptian parents had resettled for work. His dad is a retail clerk and his mum works in a cafeteria. He wasn’t predicted great grades, but two months before taking his GCSEs everything clicked and he went on to do well. That’s when he started thinking about applying to Cambridge.

Sara Renmiu

Achieved: Psychology A*, Maths A*, Biology A*

Accepted to: Psychological and Behavioural Sciences at Corpus Christi College

“The adjustment scheme is a great way to encourage high achieving and capable students to strive to get top results and meet their aspirations.”

Sara took her A-levels at Ashcroft Technology Academy in Putney, London. She says the chance of an Adjustment place drove her to study even harder, because she was so attracted to the course at Cambridge. She didn’t have tutors or help outside of class, so when the lessons ended it was up to her to do all the extra work to get the grades she needed.

* The University of Cambridge took part in the UCAS Adjustment process for the first time this year. Adjustment gives students a chance to reconsider where and what they study at university if they meet and exceed the conditions of a firm offer elsewhere.

Applicants must achieve at least the typical Cambridge offer for the course they apply to. The University also takes into account factors providing a more complete picture of the educational and social circumstances underpinning each Adjustment application.