Stephen Hughes argues that Seren is helping Welsh students appreciate the value of their background
It has only been a few months since I really had any thoughts about University, let alone Oxbridge. Since my very pleasing GCSE results, I acknowledged that my hard working ethos has provided me with the capability to fulfil my potential at one of the world’s most prestigious universities. Even so, just beginning the interview process, let alone successfully entering Oxbridge seemed miles away. Seren, in my opinion, is helping students like myself appreciate the value of our background rather than letting it deter us from the Oxbridge process. Students leaving state schools with impeccable grades, but raised in humble surroundings with the view that these esteemed Universities are quite literally miles away, should now recognise that their circumstances are more of a virtue than a disadvantage. These Universities accept students on a purely academic basis, making every other presumption obsolete.
This week on Click on Wales we take a look at the Welsh experience of Oxbridge.
Welsh students are amongst the most privileged in the country with the package on offer from the Welsh Government relating to subsidies and grants. The majority of students at Oxbridge are hard working, state schooled academics and not the privileged stereotypes depicted in the media. I can’t say Oxford has always been my ambition as I too succumbed to the archaic media exaggeration of Oxbridge elitism. But thanks to Seren, I’m closing that once mile-wide gap I thought separated me from achieving my goals, knowing full well that only successful A level results now stand in my way.
Seren has very quickly encouraged me to break down those seemingly impenetrable barriers that I believe have capped Welsh students’ ambitions of late. The Hub has opened my eyes and I can already see my peers aspiring that much higher now they have the support behind them. The greatest regret would be not to try – and I feel very fortunate to be part of Seren as it won’t allow any student with the capability and aptitude from missing out on the world class education on offer at Oxbridge. With Seren’s consistent provision of support, from academic enrichment to financial clarity, the number of students from Wales attending Oxbridge is sure to improve.
Although the UK now has over 20 world leading Universities (the Russell group), Oxford in particular has really appealed to me ever since I received my GCSE results. It’s got the perfect blend: an ancient establishment only an hour from a modern capital, filled with intellectually like-minded students, an authentic culture and thriving social life. It really would be a dream come true to study there, to hop on my bike in the morning, explore the subject I’m so passionate about (Geography) and then enjoy a drink or two with friends in the evening. It can’t get any better than that. This is why I’m currently working harder than ever before, with that dream in mind and a burning desire to make it a reality.
Over the coming months, Seren will be instrumental in this process of widening my options, becoming an academic of Oxford credibility and enjoying discovering my potential to pursue a career in something I love. It’s vital Welsh students aim for the top; a nation’s prosperity derives from its students and if we can contribute to a flourishing Wales, we will have achieved something absolutely remarkable. Through government support and enhanced teaching, there’s never been a time more ripe for student success in Wales.