Cambridge to offer places to students through Ucas adjustment scheme

Students from underrepresented backgrounds will be given a second chance to apply for Cambridge Credit: Chris Radburn/PA

Students from underrepresented backgrounds who narrowly missed out on a University of Cambridge place are to be given a second chance.

For the first time since Ucas introduced the adjustment scheme in 2009, Cambridge will participate in the initiative from this August.

Adjustment allows students who exceed the terms of their conditional offer to refer themselves to another institution for consideration.

Once their A-level results are known, those from wider participation backgrounds will be able to get in touch with Cambridge for reconsideration.

The university estimates up to 100 places may be offered under the scheme.

Applications will only be considered for the subject a student originally applied for and are available to those who are resident in the UK and currently studying at a UK school.

Dr Sam Lucy, director of admissions for the Cambridge Colleges, said: “Each year more than 14,000 students who apply to Cambridge are not made an offer.

“Students have to apply almost a year before they start their course, and some may be on an upward academic trajectory and not demonstrating their full academic potential at the point of interview.

“Adjustment provides those students who go on to achieve highly with an opportunity to be reconsidered as soon as they have their final results, rather than having to make a reapplication the following year.

“We hope this will have a positive impact, in enabling us to admit talented students from underrepresented groups who narrowly miss out in the first round.”

Those applying for an undergraduate course under the adjustment scheme must also have applied and been interviewed during the 2018/19 cycle.

They must meet the relevant widening participation criteria and have achieved at least the typical offer for the Cambridge course applied for.

To meet the criteria applicants must fulfil at least three of five contextual flags, having spent time in local authority care or being a mature applicant from an underrepresented background.

Sarah Stevens, head of policy at the Russell Group, said: “The decision to focus this opportunity on applicants from disadvantaged and underrepresented backgrounds is welcome and is further proof that Cambridge is looking for different ways to promote greater diversity among its students.”

Adjustment is for students who meet and exceed the conditions of their conditional firm offer, and allows them to potentially swap their place for one on another course they prefer.

It is not the same as applying for a place through Clearing which offers candidates who did not receive an offer, or did not meet the requirements of one, the chance to apply for courses still available.

Last April a report from the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) found Cambridge to be the most “unequal” university.

It calculated the ratings based on universities’ share of students coming from different POLAR quintiles, which are used to measure how advantaged an area is.

Nick Hillman, director of HEPI, said: “Finally – great news. I saw during my own years as a secondary school teacher how there is an element of lottery in getting into places like Cambridge – and it has got worse since I left teaching 20 years ago.

“So if this reduces the element of chance for a few students, it is wholly welcome.

“I would like to know more about whether it is a temporary or a permanent change though and it does need to be supplemented by other initiatives.”

Last month a report from the National Education Opportunities Network (Neon) showed just 2% of those admitted to the University of Cambridge in 2016/17 were white students from deprived backgrounds.