High-potential pupils from backgrounds under-represented at Cambridge visited Trinity last week for the first Summer School in a new partnership with the Brilliant Club.
In Trinity’s first in-person access event for 17 months since pandemic restrictions began, 24 Year 12 students learnt about applying to university, including Cambridge, observed a mock interview, toured the College, and met current students and academics.
The Summer School is a key element in the Brilliant Club-Trinity College Transition Project, which is designed to support and enable students from backgrounds under-represented at Cambridge to progress to leading universities.
Ben, from Newcastle, said coming to Trinity and talking to current students had crystalized his thinking about what course to apply for.
‘I wanted to study pharmacology. But hearing about the Natural Sciences course and how broad based it is, it gives you lots of option,’ he said. ‘I could go into pharmacology later.’
Ben is inspired by his grandmother, who has Parkinson’s disease and dementia, to pursue a career in science and medicine so he can help people like her by developing new drugs.
He is not alone in his motivation to help others.
Liyana from East London, Fiona from Cirencester and Joyce from Stoke-on-Trent all aim to study Medicine.
Fiona’s mother’s medical conditions and her father’s death from cancer meant she was surrounded by doctors from an early age. Now she wants to join the medical profession.
Liyana’s mother survived cancer and she too is passionate about studying Medicine. She said:
I am aiming for all A*s, then you have lots of options. I am going to apply to Trinity.
Joyce spoke for them all when she said the pandemic had only strengthened their resolve to work on the NHS frontline. ‘I want to be involved on the inside, not looking from the perimeter.’
Talking to current Trinity students made the idea of studying at Cambridge more real. Sean, Matthew and Simon, from Hilbre High School Humanities College Sixth Form in the Wirral, said they were more likely to apply now that they had seen the College in real life.
The Transition Project is aimed at graduates of the Brilliant Club’s Scholars Programme, who are now in Year 12, to support them to develop the relevant skills and knowledge to apply to highly selective universities including Cambridge or Oxford.
As part of the Brilliant Club Scholars Programme, PhD tutors share their subject knowledge and passion for learning through a series of tutorials with small groups of pupils across the UK. Pupils then complete a university-level assignment and visit two highly selective universities to meet current undergraduates and learn about university life.
Students participating in Brilliant Club programmes are those least likely to be represented at leading UK universities. The majority of pupils enrolled meet at least one of three measures: the first in their family to go to university, receive free school meals, or live in a government-defined ‘low participation’ neighbourhood in terms of higher education.
Head of Outreach at Trinity, Jon Datta said:
This exciting partnership with the Brilliant Club is about maximizing the potential of high ability students from less-advantaged backgrounds from areas that are under-represented at highly selective universities, including Cambridge.
The inaugural Summer School, including the visit to Trinity, has offered students the chance to learn more about applying to top universities, ask questions about the Cambridge admissions process, observe a mock interview, experience the College first hand, and meet current students and academics.
It’s been really inspiring and we’re really passionate about working with these exceptional students on the next stages of the Transition Project – which will involve mentoring and support with university applications, study skills and university preparation sessions.
A total of 48 students are enrolled on the 18-month Brilliant Club–Trinity College Transition Project, which continues into 2022.
The Brilliant Club is a university access charity that mobilises the PhD community to support students who are less advantaged to access highly selective universities and succeed when they are there.
Photos: Graham CopeKoga