More Scottish students deserve an Oxbridge education

The Clydeside Project is a FREE online mentoring program for all Oxbridge applicants at Scottish state schools.

Why should I apply to Oxford or Cambridge?

I'm already convinced - find me a mentor.

Oxford and Cambridge are consistently ranked amongst the best universities in the world. They lead in staff to student ratios, have some of the highest course satisfaction rates and the best employment prospects across all degrees of any university in the UK. Between them they have educated 187 Nobel Prize winners, 14 of 21 British Poet Laureates and individuals like Albert Einstein, Emma Watson and Adam Smith (born in Kirkcaldy).


Both universities teach in small groups of two/three students per tutor (alongside classes, labs and lectures). Not only do students receive unrivalled levels of feedback and individual support but all tutors are experts in their field, many being world-renowned for their research.

Collegiate system

College acts as your home for your time at Oxbridge: you can apply directly to a college or submit an open application. Students live in college in their first year and many have the choice of living in college accommodation for the entirety of their degree.

The collegiate system makes it much easier to settle in and meet those studying other subjects. The average college year group is about 100 people – not unlike your year group at school. Colleges have their own library, dining hall and common room. They also have dedicated welfare and academic support staff.

Graduate earnings

Graduates from both universities earn much more on average than their counterparts at universities like Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrew’s. A recent study found that the return on completing an Oxbridge degree over the course of a lifetime is £815,000 – almost as lucrative as 8 weeks on Love Island.

What do you have to lose?

Many people apply to Oxbridge every year believing they won't get a place and then do! If you already plan to submit a UCAS application, why not make one of your five options Oxford or Cambridge?

Isn’t Oxbridge really expensive?

England takes a different approach to student finance than Scotland. Nothing is paid upfront but you are expected to contribute to the cost of your university education after you are in high-paid employment.

Graduates pay back their tuition fees once they are in employment and only 9% on anything earned over the income threshold. The Scottish government has committed to raising this threshold to £25,000/year by 2021. Say you earned £35,000 in one year, you would contribute £900 to your tuition fees.

The fees for Oxford and Cambridge are £9,250 per year. It is important to consider that this figure is dwarfed by the Oxbridge premium (compared to places like Edinburgh, St. Andrews and Glasgow) of £200,000 in lifetime earnings. Your student loan does not affect your credit score and will be written off entirely if any remains after 30 years.

Bursaries and scholarships

Both universities act to ensure that no student's financial circumstances affect their academic or university life. They offer a wide range of generous grants in addition to any government assistance.


• Oxford Bursary: up to £3,700 per year for students from lower-income households (£42,000 or less)
• Moritz-Heyman Scholarship: financial assistance for students from households earning £16,000 or less
• Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Scholarship: course fees and annual living costs grant for students from Muslim communities
• Lloyds Scholars Programme: financial assistance for students from lower-income households

Many colleges also offer their own financial assistance including travel, book and equipment grants. More information can be found here.


• Cambridge Bursary: up to £3,500 per year for students from lower-income households (£42,620 or less)
• Cambridge Trust Scholarship: part-cost scholarships for students who can demonstrate significant academic potential and financial need
• Stormzy Scholarship for black UK Students: two scholarships covering tuition fees and living costs for black students

Cambridge's colleges also offer many of their own grants and bursaries. More information can be found here.

Is Oxbridge for me?

Oxford and Cambridge seek to attract the best and brightest applicants regardless of background. The application process looks only at your academic ability and there is no Oxbridge ‘type’. Students come from every background and corner of the globe.

Both universities do expect high achievement in SQA qualifications and are particularly interested in how this compares to the rest of your school. They also want you to demonstrate a serious enthusiasm for your chosen subject and your academic work in general.

Entrance requirements

S4: Oxford looks for strong performance at National 5 (bands are not requested)
S5: AAAAA/AAAAB at Higher (bands are not requested)
S6: AA/AAB at Advanced Higher (AA at Advanced Higher with one A at Higher also accepted)


S4: Cambridge also looks for a strong set of National 5s (bands are requested)
S5: AAAAA at Higher (bands are requested)
S6: AAA at Advanced Higher (bands are usually specified, up to two band-1s) or AA at Advanced Higher with one A at Higher (for schools offering fewer Advanced Highers)

Contextual data

Both universities acknowledge the influence of social and economic circumstances on a candidate's academic record. Oxford and Cambridge consider the following in the admissions process:

• Local area: the affluence and progression rate to higher education of an applicant's postcode area.
• School performance: the overall success of an applicant's school in SQA exams and Oxbridge applications.
• Personal background: whether an applicant has been in care, received free school meals and any other extenuating circumstances.

Application process

Applications to Oxford and Cambridge need to be submitted through UCAS along with your other choices by October 15th 2019.

Your application begins with your personal statement and school reference. You will then be invited to take an admissions test at your school on 30th October 2019. Following this you may be invited for interview at which point you will be asked to submit a piece of written work.

Any interview will take place at the university sometime in December 2019.

How can the Clydeside Project help?

Fill in the form below to be paired with a current Oxbridge student studying your chosen subject.

Our mentors are from a variety of backgrounds and many were the first to come from their school in Scotland. Your mentor will support you in all aspects of your application: your personal statement, submission of written work, aptitude test, interview or any questions you have about life at Oxbridge. They will be able to help you decide between Oxford and Cambridge, pick a college and advice you on how to make your application as competitive as possible.

All mentoring takes place through a secure online platform and information about your application is kept private and confidential.

Why do so few Scottish students study at Oxbridge?

I'm already convinced - become a mentor.

Last year, 13 schools in England each sent more students to Oxbridge than every state school in Scotland combined. All too often Scottish students are put off applying. When they do, they have the lowest chance of getting in of anywhere in the United Kingdom. The Scottish intakes of Oxford and Cambridge, as a result, tend to almost exclusively be the middle class and privately educated.

University is free in Scotland but no one who has studied at Oxbridge would say the tuition fee doesn’t represent value for money. Many potential applicants think it will be too expensive but both Oxford and Cambridge offer generous bursaries and scholarships.

Why should I become a Clydeside mentor?

State schools are not generally equipped to assist students in the application process. Schools which already struggle to send students to university do not consider assisting Oxbridge applications a priority. Many in the country's most disadvantaged communities may never have met someone who studied at Oxford or Cambridge. The universities are also doing very little to address the problem of outreach to Scotland.

Scotland - and in particular Glasgow - is home to some of the most deprived parts of the UK. One study has suggested that the ten most deprived parts of the UK are in fact all in Glasgow.

How does mentoring work?

This year The Clydeside Project wants to offer free online mentoring to all applicants from Scottish state schools. We are partnering with Access Oxbridge to provide an online platform for mentoring.

We need Oxbridge students from all backgrounds and subjects to volunteer to make this happen.

Contact us via Facebook or email at:

Founded by Michael McGrade. Proudly supported by The Magdalen College Trust and Brasenose JCR.