Cambridge University launches Foundation Year

Louis Mian 13 January 2021
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Cambridge University announced this morning that it is launching a free Foundation Year for up to 50 students who have been prevented from reaching their full potential by their circumstances. 13 colleges will be participating in this pilot scheme and the first intake will be in 2022.

The minimum entry requirement for the Foundation Year, which will have a multi-disciplinary curriculum in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, will be the equivalent of BBB at A-Level.

The colleges participating in the pilot scheme are Downing, Fitzwilliam, Girton, Gonville & Caius, Homerton, Lucy Cavendish, Murray Edwards, Newnham, Sidney Sussex, St John’s, St Edmund’s, Queens’, and Wolfson.

The University stated that the Foundation Year aims to reach ‘students whose education has been disrupted and are therefore unlikely otherwise to be able to make a competitive application to undergraduate study at Cambridge through the University’s standard admissions process.’

‘Those who have been in care, those estranged from their families, and those who have missed significant periods of learning because of health issues are among the groups the Foundation Year aims to reach.’

Students will also meet the criteria for admission if their parents or carers are eligible for Universal Credit or if they have been eligible for Free School Meals at any point in the previous six years. Students from a school which sends few people to university, which has performed poorly in an inspection in the previous four years, or has below average attainment in key stages four and five, will also be eligible for admission.

If students successfully complete the Foundation Year they will receive a CertHE qualification from the University and ‘with suitable attainment can progress to degrees in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Cambridge without the need to apply to the University again.’

Students will have a choice of 18 degrees to study at the university including History, HSPS, Philosophy, Law, English, and Classics.

‘Students will also be supported during the programme in finding alternative university places if they do not wish to continue to undergraduate study at Cambridge, or do not meet the required level of attainment.’

‘It is anticipated that as the Foundation Year programme develops, more subjects could be added, for example STEM subjects,’ the University continued.

Vice-Chancellor Stephen Toope stated that the launch of this programme ‘will open up Cambridge to a new field of candidates and transform lives’ and that participating 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.’

Professor Graham Virgo, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, has explained that the university is working ‘to explore new ways of widening access and closing the attainment gap caused by inequality’.

‘Cambridge is committed to further diversifying its student body and welcoming all those who have the ability to achieve here, regardless of background,’ Virgo stated.

The programme’s launch will be funded by a £5 million donation from philanthropists Christina and Peter Dawson.