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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Widening participation

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    Murray Edwards College has a long tradition of welcoming students from all backgrounds. We want to ensure that young women with outstanding academic potential have the knowledge, confidence and determination to apply to top ranking universities. Over the last three years, the proportion of UK students joining the College from state schools has been: 74% (2021), 74% (2020), 68% (2019). We are pleased to support the University's agreement with the Office for Students and we aim to contribute to further developments in support of widening participation.

    Widening participation is a complex issue. Our own approach has been informed by research evidence, noting:

    • The importance of role models to inform and inspire
    • The need to tackle the under-representation of young women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects
    • The importance of self-belief and confidence in themselves and an openness to 'risk' in their learning for those aiming high

    Our full programme of activities includes events open to all schools in the UK. The following activities make a particular contribution to outreach and widening participation:

    STEMM blog and aiming high conference

    A blog and one day conference for young women scientists in years 11 and 12. Encourages schools and their female students to get involved in an online discussion about science through role models, competitions and research items.

    Aspiration days

    Workshops on aiming high for students (male and female) from years 10 followed by the opportunity to explore Cambridge. Encourages younger students to engage with what universities in general and Cambridge in particular have to offer.

    Gateway Programme

    We know that the transition to Cambridge is demanding and that students welcome help with this process, particularly if they come from schools or families with little experience of higher level studies.Our popular Gateway Programme helps all students to understand how to adapt quickly and effectively by discussing how to use supervisions, the nature of good work, recording practical work etc.

    This is a well-structured programme that runs through all the students’ academic years and is tailored specifically for both undergraduates and postgraduates.

    We also know that internships and work placements can play an important role in securing future graduate roles where students may have limited professional networks on which to draw. To help all students, we work with alumnae to provide a series of work placements, internships and useful connections.

    What also makes us and our Gateway Programme special is our attention to the life and career aspirations of our young women. We offer a range of activities to help them assess career options and start their careers well – through preparation of CVs and mock interviews to programmes on the transition into the workplace.


    In association with the University of Cambridge central admissions team we link with Manchester schools in the HE+ initiative. A highlight of this partnership is an overnight visit to the College from around 90 gifted and talented Manchester students.  The visit includes talks and workshops on applying to Cambridge, interviews and academic taster sessions.

    Local area links

    Our link areas within the University of Cambridge Area Links Scheme include: Manchester, Derbyshire and Haringey. We  communicate with schools in these areas very regularly. Our School Liaison Officer visits many schools in these areas and promotes engagement with a number of the activities listed above, as well as representing the University as a whole.