The impact of Seren – a student’s perspective

image of oxford college

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.

Oxbridge Series

This week on Click on Wales we take a look at the Welsh experience of Oxbridge.
You can read the full series here

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.

Stephen Hughes is studying A Levels at Coleg Sir Gar, Llanelli

4 thoughts on “The impact of Seren – a student’s perspective

  1. Any one else really tired of this CoW Oxbridge promo series? You would think it was a major issue in Welsh schools if you glanced at this website, instead of being on the periphery of the very many things Wales has to do to make its schools get to half-good. As the election is only about six weeks ago we do need “to keep our eye on the ball” just for once with education.
    All this Seren stuff is very small beer. Of course, it could be that no one really cares about anything big or serious anymore in our elections as the EU Referendum drowns out debate over seventeen years of inevitable autarchy and the gloomy prospect of much more to come.

  2. @Terry Mackie Depends on what you mean as ‘serious’. Being a pedant, but not an alumnus of Oxbridge, I was seriously worried that I didn’t know what an ‘autarchy’ was. Having now looked it up, it apparently means ‘a political system governed by a single individual’. I wasn’t aware that Wales had been labouring under such a system – now that is worrying!
    I have to ask if those lemmings hurtling towards the white cliffs of Brexit, do they give a flying ferret about schools, Wales or anything else?
    In any case, the IWA’s website is almost the only forum for any kind of ‘discussion’ of relevant topics that exists at the moment and they should be commended.

  3. @ Chris Jones
    I think absolute sovereignty/autarchy is only a mild exaggeration for 17 unbroken years of Llafur! If they hold the next administration we will not have seen such political domination since the days of Pitt The Younger and Robert Walpole. What a sad start to devolution.
    You seem to couple Brexit voters with those who don’t care about Wales. Why does that follow? Not all Brexit are right wingers. The country is pretty split, it seems. You are entitled to your ‘view’ but not sweeping generalisation.
    Lastly, cannot agree that so many education articles about Oxbridge in CoW is healthy or commendable. It’s a side issue. You may be referring your praise to sections other than education but the fact is that it was early January when the last discussion on schools was started on this site. Given the highly significant amount of budget Assembly devotes to schools, this is extraordinary for the most important comment site for Wales in our election year. It looks like people cannot be asked.

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