This article is written by the Schools’ Liaison Officer (SLO), Ruth, who works within the Admissions Team to help carry out the College’s widening participation and outreach commitments. Any queries about these are welcomed and should be directed to slo@robinson.cam.ac.uk. For a comprehensive overview of this year’s outreach and admissions events, please take a look at the College website.

Since the news that schools would once again close at the beginning of 2021, the Admissions Team and current students have been working hard to reach schools and their students to provide guidance relating to Cambridge and Higher Education. This follows work done at the end of last year, much of which focused on supporting students who had applied to the University, through collaborative interview guidance sessions with multiple Oxford colleges.

In a more normal period, the SLO would visit schools in Robinson’s link areas of Swindon, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, and the London Borough of Wandsworth. This year, however, interaction with students remained online in the form of individual school sessions or larger HE fairs. Mindful of the pressures on school teaching time, schools were offered the opportunity to watch pre-recorded content, much of which was filmed in collaboration with current students and my counterpart at Jesus College, Oxford. Partnerships with external organisations such as The Brilliant Club also saw myself and Robinson undergraduates interact with students from across the country and across a number of year groups for the launch of their Scholars’ Programme.

The College, too, has been working on the launch of its own initiatives. An upcoming student life webinar will explore the experiences of BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) students at Robinson for the first time. The new Robinson Access Programme (RAP) has also opened for sign-ups, a multi-intervention programme designed to support Year 11 students in aspiring towards and applying to selective UK universities. Some staples of the events calendar have been reimagined for a digital format: the Women in Science Festival, for instance, will combine live and pre-recorded content to encourage the exploration of science by female Year 11 and 12 students.

From an Admissions viewpoint, the 2020 virtual interviews ran smoothly thanks to the hard work of College Fellows and the Admissions Coordinator. The 2021 cohort of Robinson students have now received their offers, and both pooled and direct applicants were invited to attend this year’s Offer Holders’ afternoon in February. The session involved a welcome and introduction to Robinson by the Admissions Tutors, an introduction to the RCSA and to undergraduates studying similar subjects, and a picture tour of the College. We were pleased to note the enthusiasm for the afternoon, with over 100 offer holders attending.

All of us here in the Admissions Team hope that this year’s cohort will experience a much fuller student experience come October. Dependent on government and College guidelines, we also hope to welcome prospective students to Robinson during the summer for the University Open Days and subject residentials. Further updates on this situation and on COVID-19 guidelines will be published on the College website in due course.