More Gwent pupils can get to Oxbridge - Torfaen MP

Free Press Series: More Gwent pupils can get to Oxbridge - Torfaen MP More Gwent pupils can get to Oxbridge - Torfaen MP

SCHOOLS and colleges can increase the number of students going to Oxbridge by working together to stretch and support their most able students, according to a report by the MP for Torfaen.

The report by Paul Murphy MP - the Oxbridge Ambassador for Wales- also says that raising standards and boosting self-esteem are key to increasing the number of Welsh students going to Oxford and Cambridge.

The Welsh Government said today it would create a “national network of partnership hubs” for more able and talented pupils to allow schools and colleges to share expertise and work directly with the UK’s leading universities.

Mr Murphy was the first from his working class family in Torfaen to go to university and read modern history at Oriel College in Oxford.

He was appointed Oxbridge Ambassador last year to examine the reasons behind the decline in Welsh applications and admissions to Oxbridge.

Figures show that only 19.5 per cent of Welsh applications to the two universities were successful, compared to 25 per cent for England and Northern Ireland in 2011-12.

Mr Murphy said: “My education at Oxford University was a life-changing experience, and I want this opportunity to be available to many more Welsh students in the future.

“Welsh Government, through schools, colleges, and teachers, needs to drive up student attainment, both at GCSE but more critically at AS-level and A-level.

“Such an approach will not only advantage academic Welsh students in applications to Oxford and Cambridge, but, perhaps more importantly, ensure that they are well prepared to apply to other competitive-for-entry academic HE institutions.”

The proposed hubs are to provide a framework for national activity and ensure all students can access mock interview sessions and other enrichment activities.

They will also facilitate a programme of engagement for Welsh alumni of Oxford and Cambridge and other leading universities.

If necessary, video conferencing could also be used to reach students in more rural areas of Wales.

Both Oxford and Cambridge Universities endorsed the report.

Cambridge University Vice-Chancellor, Prof Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, added: “There are many outstanding students in Wales and this report has shown that, if they are to reach Cambridge and Oxford in greater number, we must collectively ensure that they are appropriately encouraged, supported and most of all stretched in the sixth form.”

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