The University of Cambridge are launching a new foundation year scheme for disadvantaged students, starting in October 2022, there will be 50 fully-funded places available to students who have the academic ability to succeed at Cambridge, but whose personal circumstances have prevented them from reaching their full potential.
The widening participation scheme is aimed at underprivileged students who have been unable to meet their academic potential due to reasons such as missing school due to illness, being homeless, acting as a young carer, or students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
During the foundation year students will student an ‘engaging multi-disciplinary curriculum in Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences’, whilst learning the skills and understanding needed to succeed at Cambridge. Students will spend the year living in their college and participating in the full Cambridge student life.
After the successful completion of the foundation year students will be awarded a CertHE from the University of Cambridge. If they meet academic requirements they will progress onto an undergraduate degree (Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences), without having to reapply. If students choose not to continue their studies at Cambridge, or if they do have suitable attainment, Cambridge will support them in moving to an alternative university.
Professor Stephen Toope, Vice-Chancellor, said: “The launch of the Cambridge Foundation Year will open up Cambridge to a new field of candidates and transform lives.” "Students will be drawn from a range of backgrounds, the common link being that their circumstances have prevented them from realising their academic potential. They will benefit from our personal approach to teaching and grow in confidence and understanding, and we will benefit from them joining and further diversifying our community."
10 Cambridge colleges will be involved in the first pilot year in 2022, with three more joining in 2023, it’s expected that more Cambridge colleges will sign up as the scheme develops. Downing, Fitzwilliam, Girton, Gonville & Caius, Homerton, Lucy Cavendish, Murray Edwards, Newnham, Sidney Sussex, St Edmund’s, St John’s (2023), Wolfson (2023) and Queens’ (2023).
Due to a £5million donation from philanthropists Christina and Peter Dawson, the year will be fully funded, and students will not need to pay tuition fees. Students on the scheme will also have their rent and living costs covered by a Scholarship provided by Cambridge, the amount will be equal to what the student would receive through Student Finance as a maintenance loan. Not only that, but students will receive extra funding through the Cambridge Bursary Scheme.
A typical Cambridge offer is AAA*, but the foundation year requirements will be BBB (120 UCAS Points), with no specific subject requirements. Students can apply to the scheme through UCAS when applications open in September 2021, the deadline is January 2022. Students will have to complete interviews and assessments to assess their attainment.
In order to qualify for the foundation year students must meet criteria set out by the university. The scheme is aimed at students whose education has been disrupted leaving them unable to make a competitive application to Cambridge, this includes students who have been in care, students who have missed a substantial amount of time off school due to illness, young carers, and students from schools with below-average attainment or progression to higher education.
See the full list of criteria on Cambridge’s website.
By Clarissa Ducie