Cambridge raise Science offer

Rebecca Alldridge 23 January 2014

Cambridge has  announced that  as  of the  2015  application  cycle  students studying Maths, Medicine, Engineering, and Science will be required to attain at least A*A*A grades in their A-levels, prompting concern over access.

A  spokesperson  for  the  University told   The   Cambridge   Student   that “the   revised   offer   gives   applicants a   clearer   indication of   the   level of    attainment   realistically   required to   compete   for   a   place, and to thrive on [our] science courses”.

The   University   pointed   out   that this does  not “raise the bar” as  92% of successful applicants already achieve  A*A*A  or   better  with  the average number of A*s achieved closer to three than to two.

Entry  requirements for Arts subjects   will   remain   at   A*AA.   A University    spokesperson    explained that: Research  has  shown  different patterns   of  attainment  between  Arts and Sciences students across the UK. Science   applications   typically   offer four A levels; Arts applicants typically offer three. Scientists are more likely to achieve multiple A* grades.”

A  second  year  Scientist  told  TCS “most people are already getting at least two A*s anyway” but raised concerns that “it could be bad for access-schools which  get fewer A*s may be reluctant to predict them, even to able students.” Alissa   Lamb,  head   of  Access   at Trinity   Hall,   said:   “I   don’t   think the  change  in entry  requirement  is necessary to distinguish the top pupils if  Cambridge  continues  to  interview the highest calibre applicants and base their  decision  on   that   they  see  at interview. Personally, all I can see this change doing is putting greater pressure on  students  for  their  A-level  exams and  potentially  putting   off students with   less   confidence  in   their   own abilities, many of whom will be from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

A  Cambridge  spokesperson   stated that   access   will   not   be   adversely affected: “the University will continue to   make  non-standard  offers   where appropriate, based on consideration of relevant contextual data including any extenuating circumstances which may have adversely affected the applicant’s academic achievement.”