What is Access?

Access is not about giving a leg-up to students from a particular background, itis about widening participation in higher education throughout all socioeconomic groups in our society and an informed comparison of applicants.

Universities like Cambridge are often portrayed as stuffy institutions for a privileged elite – this is not true. The University is bound to a target of 60% of students coming from a state-school background from 2012, by HM Government’s Office for Fair Access. To meet this target the University is spending £10 million per year on bursaries to support students from low income families and to increase the number of applications from schools and regions of the UK which are currently under-represented at Cambridge.

Applicants are assessed solely upon their ability to achieve at the University of Cambridge and as such your grades will be considered in line with your class sizes, your personal circumstances (assessed via the SAQ) and your educational background. This enables informed decisions about your ability to learn to be made for everybody to be compared equally.

Access at Girton

Girton is one of the most diverse Colleges in the University. With a male:female ratio of near 1:1, a proud history of equality in women’s education and a liberal attitude, the College actively seeks to attract the broadest range of applicants possible:

The JCR Access & Academic Officer sits on the Girton JCR and runs schemes to encourage more applications from schools and UK regions that are under-represented at Cambridge (as well as looking after the academic needs of current Girtonian students!).

  • The eMentoring scheme is run by Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU) and pairs current students with students who are interested in applying to a top UK university but don’t have many teachers, family or friends with good experience of making an application. Its a really informal way of asking questions from real students for those of us unable to travel across the country on a whim! Girton is keen on access – so keen that we’re the College with the most mentors.
  • The Shadowing Scheme is the largest residential student access initiative in the UK, offering hundreds of students without access to good advice about applying to a top UK university the chance to stay in Cambridge for 3 days, for free. If you think you’d like to stay in a College for a few days, follow a student doing a subject your interested in and get to experience Cambridge social life without paying for it, let us know!
  • Girton JCR and CUSU also run visits to schools seeking to increase applications to top UK universities. If you think your school might benefit then we want to hear from you too.
  • The Girton School Liaison Officer (SLO) is a member of staff employed by the College to work with schools trying to send more students to UK universities. The SLO works mostly with schools in Camden Town and the West Midlands, Girton’s target areas, but also runs open days and admissions events for other schools. If you’re keen they’d love to hear from you!

“Cambridge isn’t for people like me”

There is no type of person that makes a Girton student.

Girton students come from all walks of life, from all over the UK, and from all kinds of schools. Whether you’ve had a priviledged childhood and attended a top public school, whether you’ve worked hard and attended a regular school, or whether you’ve had to overcome barriers to success and attend a bad school, if you’re academically gifted you are a suitable candidate for Girton.

Once at Girton the background you have is not an issue at all. Circles of friends are a mix of many types of person and money isn’t a distinctive issue (thanks to generous bursaries).

The diversity of Girton’s student population is one of our proudest attributes, and maintains our strong liberal heritage of equality in education (Girton was the first College providing higher education to women in the world). Sure, we like to dress up in Harry Potter-style gowns from time to time and yes we live in a historic building but we’re just the normal mix of students you’d find at any university in the UK. We’re proud of it, and we’re determined to keep it that way.

Money, Money, Money

For UK & EU students there is no financial barrier to studying at the University of Cambridge compared to other UK universities. There’s free money on offer and the University is determined that no student will leave due to finances.

Cambridge Special Access Scheme

The Cambridge Special Access Scheme is not the same as access.

The Cambridge Special Access Scheme is a procedure which allows any applicant to flag up exceptional circumstances in their life or education which have presented a barrier to academic success and access to higher education. This includes:

  • students from families without a history of sending anybody to higher education who are at a school without a history of sending many people to higher education.
  • students of any educational background who have experienced educational disadvantages by such things as personal problems, disability or an interrupted education.

If you think that you fit into these categories then you should consider the scheme. All you have to do is complete the usual UCAS application and ask your referee to complete some additional forms on your behalf.