Laurent discussing with 3 students

Cambridge Society at the Student Fair, Belval 26-27 October, 2023

The Cambridge Society was an active participant once again at the Ministry of Higher Education and Research (MESR)’s annual Student Fair held at the Belval campus of the University of Luxembourg on 26-27 October, 2023. We have participated regularly at the Fair for many years. When the United Kingdom left the European Union after the Brexit vote we expected that interest in studying in UK universities among students in Luxembourg would virtually disappear because nearly all of them would no longer be eligible for the same “home” tuition fees as students in the UK, but would face the much higher “international” fees with no access to loans from the Student Loans Company in the UK. Certainly the number of students applying to UK universities from the EU has fallen considerably, but there are still sufficient students interested to make it worth our while to continue to provide information, advice and support to those who still want to apply to Cambridge. It should be noted, however, that since Brexit there are fewer UK universities participating in the Fair: this year 11 UK universities and 2 alumni associations (Oxford and Cambridge) have Digital Platforms, and only 4 universities and the 2 alumni associations had stands at Belval.

This is the second year since the Covid pandemic for the Fair to consist of a Digital Platform for each participating organisation, which was available for students to access from 18 October and will remain accessible until the beginning of January 2024, and a stand at the Fair in Belval for the 2 days 26-27 October. The Digital Platform allows students to find out about the University of Cambridge, how to choose a subject and a College, as well as learning about the application and interview processes, what it costs to study at Cambridge, and what student life is like. They can also download a number of important documents and follow lots of links to other relevant sites. Here is a link to our Digital Platform:

The stand at Belval enables student to come along and speak to the members of the Society and discuss all of these matters and have their questions answered face-to-face. We find that the Digital Platform is useful, but passive, it does not allow the student to interact with us, while on the stand we can engage directly with the students and provide much better advice and asssistance tailored to their need. It also enables us to meet people from the other stands to exchange experiences.

Laurent discussing with 3 students

Laurent discussing with 3 students

Our stand was manned by Laurent Storoni and John Speed on both days, and on Friday we were joined by Megha Agrawal for the whole day. In the mornings we were very busy as “waves” of students from the various LycĂ©es, the European Schools and the International School descended on the stand, there was something of a pause during the lunchtime period, followed by a fairly busy period during the early afternoon as more groups of students came to the Fair. By mid-afternoon things slacked off.

Many of the students who stopped to ask us questions were just curious and were not really thinking seriously about Cambridge as a place where they could or event wanted to study. But there were a good number who were definitely interested, and some had already done quite a lot of thinking and research about Cambridge before coming to the Fair. And there were several whose academic performance so far was at the level needed for a potentially successful application to Cambridge. It is always a great pleasure, and most encouraging, to meet bright young students who are working hard and are seriously committed to finding the best places to study.

But many of them are not able to obtain the large sums of money needed to finance their studies at Cambridge, which is sad. It also means that only the children of the wealthiest parents can afford it, which is in contradiction to the current policies of the Cambridge Colleges to reach out to the students from disadvantaged backgounds.

Over the 2 days we took the contact details of 48 students who were sufficiently interested and academically talented to be seriously thinking of applying to Cambridge next year. Last year we had 53 students, more or less the same level. We take their details so that we can email them at the end of September 2024 to see whether they are indeed applying to Cambridge, and, if so whether they would like have a practice interview before they are called to the real thing. This is something which the Oxford and Cambridge Societies organise jointly for students.

I think we can consider our participation at the Fair once again to have been successful. So long as there is interest among students in Luxembourg to learn about studying at Cambridge, we will be pleased to provide them and their parents with information and advice.

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