South West students visit Downing College Downing College is linked to local education authorities (LEAs) in the South West and runs a wide range of events aimed at raising the aspirations of students in the region and encouraging more of them to apply to Cambridge. The residential open days make it easier for s福彩3d2016219期开奖 tudents from remote parts of the South West to visit Cambridge and see for themselves what undergraduate life here is really like. They are completely free and Downing College also pays participants' travel expenses. The students spend two days in Cambridge and engage in a number of activities designed to explain the admissions process and illustrate different aspects of life at Cambridge. They watch mock interviews, meet lecturers and visit academic departments, as well as enjoying a tour of the city and a chauffeured punt trip. Downing College held its first widening-participation open day in 2000, making it the College's longest-running access initiative. This year, for the first time, the scheme was expanded to include all the state-maintained, post-16 education providers in Devon, Dorset and Cornwall. Each institution was invited to nominate Year 12 (or equivalent) students whom they felt should seriously consider applying to Cambridge, but who may be unsure whether or not it is right for them. The event has proved highly successful - of the 70 attendees last year, more than half went on to apply to Cambridge (mainly to Downing College) and stated that their experience on the open day had persuaded them to go ahead and apply. Downing College Access Officer Katie Childs, who organised the open days, said: "Being able to stay in Downing College overnight, eating in the canteen, meeting current students and lecturers and exploring the city illustrates to the sixth-formers that Cambridge is an vibrant and exciting place and that the people here are friendly and just like them and, significantly, they can see themselves living and loving life in Cambridge. From visiting schools, I know that the distance to Cambridge, the misconception that everyone here is a 'posh genius' and the fact that it is difficult to envisage being at Cambridge are major factors in making sixth-formers sceptical about this university. The open day successfully tackles all of these and the students leave enthusiastic and very positive about Cambridge." The open day is just one of the large access events that Downing College has run this year. Katie also organised three Oxbridge conferences in the South West this spring and around 350 students attended the day-long events in Exeter, Dorchester and Ilfracombe. In addition, Downing regularly hosts school groups on aspiration-raising visits and Katie has travelled to 98 schools in the South West, sometimes accompanied by current undergraduates. Over the next 12 months, she will be organising more regional conferences and expanding Downing's e-mentoring and video-conferencing intiatives with South West schools and colleges.