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Cambridge To Offer Free Foundation Year For Disadvantaged Students

The University of Cambridge have announced a brand-new foundation year scheme designed to widen participation at Cambridge for disadvantaged students. From October 2022, Cambridge will be offering 50 fully-funded places to students who have the academic ability to succeed, but whose personal circumstances have prevented them from reaching their full potential.

Students will spend a year studying at Cambridge, undertaking an ‘engaging multi-disciplinary curriculum in Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences’ and learning the skills and understanding needed to succeed at Cambridge. It’s expected that the scheme will expand to include STEM subjects after the pilot year.

At the end of the year students will be awarded a CertHE from the University of Cambridge, and will be allowed to progress onto an undergraduate degree at Cambridge if they meet academic requirements. If students choose not to continue on at Cambridge, or if they do have suitable attainment, Cambridge will help them to get a place at another university.

The scheme is aimed at underprivileged students who have been unable to meet their academic potential due to reasons such as missing school due to illness, being homeless, acting as a young carer, or students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

So far 13 Cambridge colleges have signed up to the scheme:

  • Downing
  • Fitzwilliam
  • Girton
  • Gonville & Caius
  • Homerton
  • Lucy Cavendish
  • Murray Edwards
  • Newnham
  • Sidney Sussex
  • St Edmund’s
  • St John’s (2023)
  • Wolfson (2023)
  • Queens’ (2023)

Fully-Funded Tuition & Living Expenses

Students on the scheme will not have to pay tuition fees, these will be covered by a £5 million donation from Christina and Peter Dawson. Students will also receive a Scholarship to cover their rent and living costs. The amount will be equal to whatever the student would receive as a maintenance loan from student finance, students will also receive extra funding through the Cambridge Bursary Scheme.

Entry Requirements

The entry requirements for a typical Cambridge place is AAA*, but the new scheme will only ask for BBB (120 UCAS Points), with no specific subject requirements. Students can apply for the scheme through UCAS when applications open in September.


In order to qualify for the scheme students must meet criteria set out by the university. Criteria includes:

  • Students who have been in care
  • Students who missed substantial time off school due to illness
  • Young carers
  • Students who are eligible for free school meals
  • Students from schools with below average attainment
  • Students from schools with below average progression to higher education

See the full list of criteria on Cambridge’s website.

Posted in News, UCAS & Application, Widening Participation on Jan 13, 2021 by

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