Cambridge University college launches scheme to widen state access to study medicine

The Independent is reporting that a Cambridge college has launched a scheme to encourage sixth-formers from state schools to apply to study medicine by letting them experience undergraduate life.

The project was the brainchild of two medical students at Gonville and Caius College who were concerned at the difficulties facing state school pupils who might find it harder to break into the profession. They wanted to give practical advice and show them that Cambridge students were “not all posh boys in red trousers”.

Medicine is highly competitive and requires medical work experience. Courses often end up dominated by students who attended private schools or whose parents or family friends are doctors. 

Luke Bibby, 21, president of the college’s medical society, knows the difficulties facing applicants with no medical links. He is the first member of his family to go to university; his father is a plasterer and his mother an administrator. Unable to get work experience in a hospital, he ended up volunteering in a care home and shadowing a physiotherapist. He said: “I came from a state school and I know how important access schemes are. I thought it would be great to show sixth-formers what it is really like to study medicine at Cambridge…

Under the Gonville and Caius scheme – the first of its kind for any subject at Cambridge – 20 sixth-formers spent time at the college over three days. Undergraduates gave up their bedrooms and shared with friends to enable the pupils to stay in a student room and get a taste of life in college. They took part in sports and went to lectures and supervisions. Each was assigned a student to shadow, who looked after them…

More at: Cambridge University college launches scheme to widen state access to study medicine


This sounds like a really good idea to me – give potential applicants a real taste of undergraduate life, right down to living in a student’s room.

Surely the best way to break down misconceptions?

What do you think? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…

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  1. CarolElizabeth

    The Excellence in Cities scheme offered Year 11 students the chance to spend a week in various universities as part of the Aim Higher scheme. It was a good and popular scheme and was successful in raising awareness and aspirations. Like many of these projects government funding was axed. Well done to these Cambridge students for doing it again albeit with older students. Unfortunately as it is volunteer led there will be no consistency – just a lucky few will benefit. This system will help the chosen six formers to get through the Oxbridge hurdles.

  2. The work experience part of this initiative could be part of schools’ careers and education guidance (CEG) programmes.  Schools could set up extended work experience (perhaps after GCSEs have finished) at, say, surgeries, hospitals, clinics for those pupils serious about entering the medical profession.
    It won’t happen, though.   CEG is already dire in schools.  And ministers think sending employers into schools to give job info will do the trick.

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