12 students, 2 staff, 1 minibus… 1 aim in mind. Wadham University Aspiration Day. After a great journey, we arrived at 10 am and met our host for the day, Dr Lucy Busfield. Lucy has just completed her post graduate degree here at Oxford University, so she has a great insight into the building and the courses available. By 10.15, Berkay had already made up his mind, “I am going to come here. I want to be a doctor!”
After a tour of the grounds, we went into the Gillese-Badun Seminar room for our first session of the day. A team quiz; Bower Power vs. ER (Everything Right) vs. Gloove vs. IMK (Izzy, Megans and Kiera). Questions covered student loans, courses, university history and a discussion about the ‘Russell Group’ (a collection of universities which we are aspiring to attend). It was tense, but the clear winner was IMK. These are a few of the facts we discovered during the quiz; the oldest university in the U.K. is Oxford, where teaching was already going on in 1096. That’s over 900 years ago! Wadham College was built in 1610. There are 133 universities in the U.K. The university with the largest number of students is Manchester university, which has 3800; Oxford has about 2200. We learnt that the Open University has 250,000 people studying. There are 37,000 different courses you can study at university. Details of these can be found on UCAS (this is the online system you use to apply to university).
Oxford has 38 colleges that make up the university. Most of the courses are for undergraduates, who are working towards a bachelor’s degree. There are also postgraduate students, who have already graduated and are now doing an extra degree, such as a master’s or a PhD. To get into university, you can get a student loan to help you pay for the course. You have to pay this back, but only when you are earning £21,000 per year. Then you begin to pay back your loan at a rate of 9%. It can be as little as £5 a month. Oxford also offers bursaries for students, which are payments to help you study that do not have to be repaid. If your parents have a combined income below than £42,500, you can apply for a bursary. If their income is below £16,000, you get a full bursary, which means you have help to pay for equipment, living and food.
Universities will look at your GCSE results when you apply, so this shows how important it is to get good grades. The Russell Group of universities includes Oxford, Manchester, Edinburgh and Cambridge plus 20 others. We then had a session on top universities and what qualities they are looking for in students. These include being hardworking, respectful, well-mannered and experienced in extra-curricular activities, as well as gaining good results in GCSEs and A Levels, taking on responsibilities such as being a house representative, showing leadership skills, enthusiasm and passion for a subject and of course your potential. Universities are not looking for someone from a particular background, so it doesn’t matter where you grew up, which school you attended or if you are a genius. They want ordinary students who have tried hard at school.
We looked into the differences between school and university. Rio came up with a great point, “At university everyone is there because they want to be there, so you can really focus on your learning. Also, you develop life skills, which prepare you for when you have a house and spend your wages”. We looked at what A levels you have to get to study particular courses at Oxford. Berkay found out he needs to get A*AA in chemistry, maths and one other science. “I’ve got lots of work to do, haven’t I?”. To study law, you must get at least an A*-C in maths for GCSE… so we need to make sure we get good results in all of our core subjects! They call these ‘facilitating subjects’, because English, maths and science all play a big part in facilitating our university applications. The library here is huge, It has a copy of every book ever published in the English language- there are 12million books! That’s quite a lot more than our Learning Resource Centre.
We had an academic taster session with Dr David Menassa. He spoke about his studies and ran a seminar called ‘A stranger in the house of memory and other stories’. He introduced us to 5 different case studies, where people have had traumatic injuries to the brain. We learnt about how the brain functions and how it is affected by blindness, consciousness, depression and memory loss.
After lunch, we had a tour of the college, guided by two student ambassadors. They showed us the accommodation, the library, lecture rooms, the common room and the chapel. We heard about the history of the college and what the students do here from day to day. The next stop was the Natural History Museum. We held an elephant’s tooth and saw invertebrates, dinosaur skeletons, stuffed animals and much more. We even got to hold cockroaches! We saw a 230 million year old dinosaur fossil, a bear, glowing minerals and a live tarantula. An amazing day! We all want to study here!
Year 9, Bower Park Academy