Access Roadshow 2016

25th July 2016

News, Student news, Alumni news

How many universities are there in the UK? How many different courses are there? East London school students attending the Wadham Access Roadshow were surprised to hear there are some 133 universities where you can study over 37,000 different courses.

Wadham’s Access and Outreach Officer, Emily Cannon, together with three undergraduate students travelled to East London to talk to students aged between 11 and 17 from schools across Barking and Dagenham and Havering, offering advice and guidance about higher education.

Emily reports on the week: “The East London boroughs of Barking & Dagenham and Havering have significant proportions of students eligible for free school meals and a low progression rate to higher education, which makes them key target areas for our Access work. Over the week, undergraduate students Ella Sackville Adjei (Classics), Freya Prentice (Experimental Psychology) and Yann Newby (Biological Sciences) and I spoke to 1000 students from 11 state schools.

Speaking broadly about university, we advised the students about how to put themselves in the best position, should they wish to apply to a higher education institution in the future, and the undergraduates commented on their experiences of Oxford more specifically. In order to do this, we were kindly awarded funding from the National Network of Collaborative Outreach.

During the talk, the school students were surprised to hear that, although there are a relatively small number of universities in the UK, there are in fact over 37,000 different courses to choose from! They enjoyed exploring this further and learnt that it’s possible to study subjects like Marine Biology, Portuguese, Egyptology, Astronomy, Viking Studies, and Earth Sciences at university.

For the students working towards their GCSEs, the importance of thinking through A Level choices was also emphasised by the team. Students were challenged to guess the A Level subjects required for degree subjects taught at Oxford – the eleven and twelve year olds also enjoyed having a go! This was a key message in our presentations, as it emphasised the significance of A Level choice in relation to university study – something that school students often aren’t aware of."

I really liked the talk and feel I know more about university and what to do to get a course I want

Year 9 student from Drapers’ Academy

"Looking ahead to careers, our talks focussed on the myth that students need to restrict themselves to a university subject that has a direct link to a specific career path. Using photos of some famous individuals, Ella, Freya, and Yann asked the students to guess what subjects these celebrities had studied at university.

The school students were surprised to discover that Chris Martin (lead singer of Coldplay) studied Ancient World Studies at UCL; Angela Merkel (Chancellor of Germany), Physics at Leipzig University; Ursula Burns (CEO Xerox), Mechanical Engineering at NYU Polytechnic; J K Rowling (author), Classics and French at Exeter University; and Jessica Ennis-Hill (athlete), Psychology at Sheffield. Animated question and answer sessions completed each school presentation with groups of school students remaining behind to ask individual questions.

Overall, the undergraduates and I had an extremely busy and rewarding trip to Barking & Dagenham and Havering. The feedback from the young people we spoke to was extremely positive.

We would like to thank the teachers across the schools (Sanders School, St Edward’s CofE School, Warren School, Bower Park Academy, Robert Clack School, Riverside School, The Albany, Hall Mead School, Drapers’ Academy, Gaynes School, and Redden Court School) for taking the time to organise our visits. We hope that our core messages to raise aspirations, and our advice about the choices ahead, have stayed with all the students that we spoke to over the week."

Emily Cannon, Access and Outreach Officer

Thank you for the talk, I really appreciated it. This has made me more motivated to go to university

Student from St Edward’s Church of England School