Cambridge University: undergraduate admissions hit record high

Almost 400 applicants who met admission requirements after grades were revised will start the new academic year – university also confirms its highest ever state school intake

The University of Cambridge has confirmed this year’s undergraduate admissions have hit a record high following the revision of A-level grades.

Cambridge usually plans for an intake of around 3,450 undergraduates but this year will be admitting up to 3,890 students – over 10% more than in 2019 – after Ofqual ditched its controversial algorithm and ruled that teacher-assessments should stand as this year’s A-level results. The U-turn resulted in 15,000 applicants eventually meeting the requirements of their first-choice university.

Almost 400 students who met the conditions of their University of Cambridge offer following the issue of revised exam results have been admitted. As well as honouring its commitment to successful applicants, the university said it also wished to “minimise the potential impact on the cohort applying for places in 2021”.

We have the highest ever number of state school students arriving this year as well as greater numbers from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, underlying our commitment to providing equality of educational opportunity – Professor Stephen Toope, vice-chancellor, University of Cambridge

The autumn undergraduate intake also sees Cambridge opening its doors to its highest ever number of state school pupils, and exceeded its widening participation targets. Ahead of more detailed statistics promised later in the year, the provider says it expects 70% of its UK students to hail from state schools – up on last year’s rate of 68.7% – and that the proportion of students coming from areas of low participation in higher education (using POLAR 4, Quintiles 1 and 2) has risen from 13% to 14%.

“This summer has been an exceptionally challenging admissions process,” said vice-chancellor Professor Stephen Toope.

“Staff have worked round the clock to ensure that each student who has met their offer secures a place to study at Cambridge. And our Colleges have worked together to provide extra accommodation for the higher than planned for intake. This incredible effort means we are not having to compel any student to defer entry until 2021. I am also proud that we have the highest ever number of state school students arriving this year as well as greater numbers from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, underlying our commitment to providing equality of educational opportunity. We look forward to welcoming all our new students in October.”

University Business approached the university to ask how it would accommodate the extra undergraduates, but they were unable to give any further details on how colleges intend to house the bumper cohort. UB also asked if the number of incoming first-year undergraduates from overseas, which last year numbered 856, had increased and decreased – a spokesperson said: “The statistics are preliminary and we will release more details when we know more about the numbers.”

In May, The University of Cambridge was one of the first providers to announce that it would suspend face-to-face lectures during the next academic year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Michaelmas Term at the University of Cambridge starts on Tuesday 6 October.


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