If you are a parent, chances are you want to give your offspring all the advantages of life and a good education is usually high up on the list. However, when it came to the option of attending a top university based solely on academic ability, for a long time it seemed easier to climb through the eye of a needle than get into certain educational institutions.

Courtney Daniella
Get In Cambridge: Courtney Daniella at Kings

In the BBC documentary Will Britain Ever Have A Black Prime Minister presented by Hollywood actor, David Harewood, a key stat showed that “black students were less likely to be offered places at top universities than white students who have the same predicted grades” – according to research by Dr Vikki Boliver at Durham University.

The programme confirmed what we all knew, that we were not operating on a level playing field, with students from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds losing out. Two years later, it appears the tide is changing, at least in Cambridge University. Last year, Grime artist Stormzy announced the launch of his Cambridge scholarships for Black students, with another round of Stormzy scholarships available to Black students on A-level results day for those starting at Cambridge this October 2019.

Building on this inspiring start is the university’s new social media campaign which is based around a series of films to encourage more people from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds to apply to Cambridge, headed up by popular YouTube vlogger Courtney Daniella, herself a Cambridge graduate.

The Get In Cambridge campaign is a humorous watch with a serious message. It sees Courtney taking a wry look at the ‘Myths Versus Reality’ of Cambridge, addressing untrue assumptions about the university that put students off applying.

“Now I want to say to anyone who believes that to stop putting yourself and Cambridge in a box and start thinking ‘I have so much that I could bring to this university – it would be great for them to have me.’

“Most people think that the typical Cambridge student fits in a specific mould, that you have to be a young, white male from Eton or some sort of private school to get in. I wasn’t any of those things and yet, here I am, a Cambridge graduate.”

When at school, 22-year-old Courtney was told by teachers she was not good enough for Cambridge and struggled to overcome her doubts – one of the main reasons she wanted to give out a different message to students like her.

“I used to tell myself every day that Cambridge wasn’t for a person like me partly because I’d never known anyone who’d gone there, and I’d never seen a Black Cambridge student, ever,” she says.

“Now I want to say to anyone who believes that to stop putting yourself and Cambridge in a box and start thinking ‘I have so much that I could bring to this university – it would be great for them to have me.’

Courtney Daniella
Vlogger: Courtney Daniella

“It’s true the gates of Cambridge were once closed to people like me. However, here I am a Cambridge graduate – I’ve done it and people who look like me can see they can do it too.”

The series features 26 films encouraging students from underrepresented background to apply.

Each of the 26 films features current undergraduates – who all attended state schools – telling the stories of their journeys to Cambridge as they invite cameras into their rooms, libraries, supervision sessions and nights out.

In one film, entrepreneur Courtney charts her journey from a North London schoolgirl caring for her mum and working part time to provide for her family, to studying Human, Social, and Political Sciences at Robinson College.

“It’s true the gates of Cambridge were once closed to people like me. However, here I am a Cambridge graduate – I’ve done it and people who look like me can see they can do it too.”

We applaud the university’s approach of engaging Vloggers to boost their profile. Director of the Cambridge Admissions Office Jon Beard said: “While filming the series, at least half a dozen students stopped Courtney on the street to thank her and tell her she was the reason that they were here. It shows what a huge influence they have.

“We hope these films will complement the University and College efforts to widen access, which include a range of initiatives to offer additional academic and financial assistance for students who may have suffered educational disruption or disadvantage.”

Courtney Daniella

Cambridge will continue to work with the development programme for black African and Caribbean pupils, Target Oxbridge on a range of initiatives including a three-day residential and an additional one-day conference in London, which will take place for the first time this summer.

An Oxbridge education will not be suitable for everyone, and we are not suggesting that they are the pinnacle of university education, but rather that choice and equal access should be the key drivers in attaining a university place, no matter where your child chooses to go. We support the efforts to get more of our children, or perhaps even you, dear reader, to “Get into Cambridge”!

 

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