The charity helping northern state students reach our best universities

Charlie Lavemai-Goldsborough

Hall Cross School, Doncaster – Politics student

Charlie comes from an area in the bottom 10% in the UK for educational outcomes. 27% of local people have no formal educational qualifications. She has just applied to University College, Oxford.

This was the best part of my school career. It was inspirational and a pleasure to be a part of it.

The Cambridge residential was incredibly useful for me as it allowed me to be stretched in the subjects that I really enjoy.

The opportunity to study the subject I am interested in every day with an undergraduate who is as interested in it as me made the experience more rewarding. As well as exploring areas in my subject in immense detail, I was able to appreciate the tutorial/supervision style of teaching used in Oxbridge universities, something that will be a main factor of my application.

Everyone was interested in finding out more about other subjects from the other students there. Having spent a week in London with the same people, we had already established strong friendships based on the fact that we are all in the same boat in terms of applying to competitive universities. This allowed us to have an enjoyable time at Cambridge doing many activities as friends, as well as creating interesting debate involving arts and science students.

From being part of the Cambridge residential and the Linacre Institute as a whole, the possibility of going to a competitive university like Oxford or Cambridge has become much more realistic.

Meeting undergraduates from the same background as myself showed me how these seemingly unreachable universities are a lot more accessible than it may seem.

It has encouraged me to submit an application and has also provided me with incredibly useful support and information which means that I will be able to make a much stronger application than I would if I hadn’t been a part of the Linacre Institute.

Throughout both the London and Cambridge residentials, I have been stimulated and have grown a greater depth of knowledge in my subject, become a much more confident individual and have met some good friends who I hope to stay in contact with for years to come.

Charlie, far right, with the historian Lord Hennessy

Ashleigh Weir

Wales High School, Rotherham – English student

Ashleigh comes from an area in the bottom 18% in England for educational outcomes. She has just applied to Downing College, Cambridge.

I can now say, having participated in the scheme, that I have been enlightened!

Beforehand, competitive universities seemed out of my reach. What really changed my attitude were the people we were introduced to throughout, many of whom had studied at Oxbridge despite having come up through state schools. For the first time, Oxbridge seemed a lot less like some unattainable destination, available only to child prodigies. I feel much more confident in my own ability and much more enthused about applying to the top UK universities.

I found I began to see Literature from a whole new perspective, and it gave me a fresh appreciation of the subject. I found myself saying things – really intelligent things, that I wouldn’t have dreamed could have come out of my mouth just a couple of months ago! My essay writing skills were developed through classes and practice and I now feel much more confident about the kind of work I need to be producing.

The Linacre Institute has opened my eyes to a lot of new and exciting possibilities with regards to the future. Speaking to real people who had studied at top universities and who had successful careers in journalism, politics and academia proved particularly inspiring.

Friendships have been formed which I hope will last for years to come; it was amazing to spend time with such lovely, hilarious and like-minded people. It was really encouraging to be in a room full of people whose innate passion and flare for the subject matched your own.

Living and working in Cambridge was extremely exciting. Before I had struggled to picture how I would fit in with such prestigious surroundings, but actually staying in a college helped me to feel more comfortable with the atmosphere of the university.

The sessions on interview technique and the talks from admission tutors have left me determined to try for Cambridge. I no longer feel like I’ll be going in blind, and though there will always be an element of uncertainty about the interview, I now feel more prepared for whatever they throw at me.

I feel inspired. I’m itching to get to university now, and what’s more, it seems so much more achievable. The Linacre Institute has acted as a springboard to help propel us into the best position when applying for top universities, and I’m now determined to get the A2 grades I need to get there. I have utterly loved every single moment of the experience!

Ashleigh, left, enjoyed the Globe theatre