Punting for Cambridge

September 1, 1995

A summer school for inner-city, state-educated, ethnic minority pupils - with little or no post-16 education - was held at Cambridge University last week.

Twenty pupils from schools in London and the Midlands were chosen to spend five days at the university after fierce competition. They were offered introductory lectures in subjects including law, physics, medicine, and engineering, and invited to discussion groups and assertiveness classes in the hope that Cambridge would seem more accessible. Punting was added to the agenda- to scotch its quintessentially English image.

An inter-collegiate group of students and staff at the university organised the school. The Group to Encourage Ethnic Minority Applications was set up six years ago by Cambridge students concerned about the lack of ethnic diversity there. Last year all colleges became affiliated to the group which is represented on the university's admissions forum.

Simone Ellis, GEEMA liaison officer, said: "Cambridge doesn't have a formal equal opportunities policy, but we are a form of positive action ourselves and we constantly liaise with the Commission for Racial Equality."

Abdul Quddus, aged 16, from Harborne Hill School in Birmingham, said: "My white friends were annoyed that they couldn't apply for this, and although I did feel bad, I still think everything is more unfair to us, and this should really be our chance."

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