Downing Outreach Blog

Oxford and Cambridge Information Days 2016!

30 Mar 2016 | Lauren Payne | Uncategorised

The Oxford and Cambridge Information Days are a series of events organised by Downing College and our Oxford counterparts – Exeter and Merton Colleges – aimed to support Year 12 students in our link areas to make competitive applications to either university. The 2016 events were hosted at six hub locations across Devon, Dorset, and Cornwall over a nine-day period, making this one of the largest events of the year for our team of Admissions Tutors and School Liaison staff.

We began in a beautifully sunny Falmouth at the National Maritime Museum, Cornwall. The ships suspended from the ceiling provided an incredible backdrop to our talks, with sessions this year on the application process, how to choose a course, admissions assessments, personal statements, and interviews. This was one of our new 2016 locations, and we were very lucky to be able to host in such a lovely venue and see so many of the sixth form students in south Cornwall on the day.

We then headed off to Torquay and were fortunate enough to bring the sunshine with us as we made our way to Spires College, our next host location. It was great to see so many students there taking notes and we hope you received lots of information that will help if you are applying to university next year.

I was lucky enough to stay in Torquay for the weekend where I got to be a proper tourist, enjoying all the best things about the seaside as I played in amusement arcades, had lots of ice cream, and wandered along the harbour with some fish and chips!

The second week of events took us to Plymouth, where we spoke to over one hundred students at Devonport High School for Boys. Students from the region who are now undergraduates at Oxford and Cambridge accompanied us to all of our locations to provide the student perspective; in Plymouth we were lucky to have five local undergraduates with us to answer questions, discussing life at university and whether they have enjoyed their courses so far.

From Plymouth we moved back into Cornwall for the St Austell event at the Eden Project, another of our new Information Day locations in another incredible host venue! Our morning talks were based in the Education Centre and in the afternoon all attendees were given free access to the site. With my case in hand, we trekked through the rainforest biodome and got some great pictures of the little birds that roam around and the seriously impressive structure that encases this mini tropical paradise!

After this tourist moment we left for Exeter, our final Devon location. Based in the Exeter Phoenix auditorium, we spoke to another large group of students, all of whom had great questions! Central Exeter is lovely and it was great to be able to see some of the local history and area, particularly the beautiful cathedral. Exeter College, Oxford was actually founded by a former Bishop of Exeter, Walter de Stapeldon, and the College predominately accepted students from Devon and Cornwall in its early years – now they accept undergraduates and graduates from all over the world, yet still maintain a link with Devon and Cornwall through their outreach work in the area.

Our final stop was in Dorset, with this Information Day being held at Magna Academy in Poole. Even though it was the last day before the Easter break, lots of students made it down for the afternoon, which was brilliant. The large hall had a big screen, perfect for showing clips of the interview videos that were produced by Cambridge to give prospective students an idea of what the interview process is actually like. A list of resources and links to further information was included in the Oxford and Cambridge Information Day Booklet that we produced this year, and we hope students will find it a helpful starting place for further research about Oxford and Cambridge.

Thank you to all of the host locations, students, schools, undergraduates, and staff that made the 2016 Information Days such a success; this event series has been running for over a decade now and it is great to see so many students and schools every year. I know I will be seeing many of you as I continue on my South West visits and I look forward to organising the next series of Information Days for 2017.

Lauren Payne

I studied English at Emmanuel College from 2012-2015, before moving over to Downing to start as the full-time School and College Liaison Officer. My role involves organising outreach work primarily in the South West, advising both students and teachers in all things related to Cambridge and Higher Education more generally.