£500 Awarded to Improve Access at Cambridge

Trustees have donated £500 to the Cambridge University Islamic Society to sponsor their Access projects.

The CUISoc is a student-run society; their dedicated Access Subcommittee aims to equip young British Muslims with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to make competitive applications to universities like Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial, and LSE.

They focus on helping the most disadvantaged sixth form and college students by closing the information gap and mentoring them through the application process, providing support they otherwise would not have. Their focus is on increasing successful applications to Cambridge from the North and the Midlands – both regions with low application and success rates in previous years.

There are multiple components to their Access initiatives:

  1. Annual Summer Access Conference

This is held every August as a free in-person event at a venue in Cambridge. It involves a workshop run by a Cambridge admissions tutor to provide a broad insight into how to make a competitive application; personal statement workshops run by Cambridge students providing applicants with tailored feedback on their personal statement drafts; a tour of the historic town of Cambridge and its university campuses; and a Q&A panel session.

This year, they aim to run a similar conference in Manchester, to target Northern students – an underrepresented, disproportionately disadvantaged student population. They aim to help them realise their potential and destigmatize applying to Cambridge within Northern Muslim communities by involving parents too.

  1.           Virtual Mentorship Scheme

Before the university application cycle opens, they provide each applicant with a Cambridge student studying their desired subject as a mentor. This is so that applicants have access to a source of information and assistance when it comes to applying for a place at Oxford or Cambridge – a task that many find challenging. The mentors provide application support throughout the process.

  1.           Mock Interview Workshop

They hold an event towards the end of November for interview invitation holders to receive a free 1-1 mock interview conducted by a current Cambridge student. This is to prepare the applicants for the rigorous interview process at Oxbridge and give them a better idea of what to expect.

Feedback from past Access projects, in response to the question ‘I know what to expect of a Cambridge interview for my subject in terms of structure’ 41.7% of attendees agreed or strongly agreed before the event compared to 95.9% after the event.

Furthermore, in response to the question ‘I would be confident entering a Cambridge Interview for my subject’ 29.2% of attendees agreed or strongly agreed before the event compared to 81.7% of attendees agreeing after the event.

The donation from the COSARAF Foundation will support the delivery of this programme, and ensure that barriers to attending these events are reduced, such as travel costs for young students being paid and so forth.