Ashbourne Oxbridge Programme

Ashbourne successfully prepares students applying for Oxford and Cambridge universities.

The Ashbourne Oxbridge Programme (AOP) is designed to give our students the best possible chance of gaining a place at Oxford or Cambridge University. The year-long Programme is run by Will Stockland, Head of Faculty for Culture and Society.

Outstanding results and Oxbridge success

Ashbourne’s A level courses, taken in conjunction with the AOP, offer outstanding opportunities for ambitious and hardworking students who will benefit from the individual support and choice we offer to help our students reach the highest grades.

Our students consistently achieve outstanding results, 54% A*A (2022-2023), performance improvement is excellent, placing the college in the top 5% of UK schools and colleges for value added, and almost 60% of our graduates go on to study at Russell Group universities, including Oxford and Cambridge.

The Ashbourne Oxbridge Programme has been running since 2015 and over a five-year period the average success rate has been 34% i.e. approximately one in three applicants that have participated in the programme have been successful in their applications. We were delighted that in recent cycles of applications the success rate has been 50%.

What students get from Ashbourne's Oxbridge Programme

The AOP comprises twelve monthly set tasks that help Oxbridge applicants to be as prepared and competitive as possible in their applications – these range from making sensible degree choices that clearly correspond to long-term professional ambitions to engagement with super-curricular activities that enhance intellectual abilities and A-level curricular learning.

All participants in the AOP complete a 5000-word Extended Project Qualification in order to gain independent research skills and to deepen their knowledge in a specific subject area that is relevant to their degree choice and personal interests.

The AOP also provides an opportunity for Oxbridge applicants to work closely with their subject tutors in order to develop academic ability and intellectual skills, particularly in relation to preparation for the pre-interview assessments tests, which are designed to stretch and challenge curricular learning and are an essential component of the application process.

The primary aim of the AOP is to help students to make as holistically complete an application as possible, in which the many and diverse aspects of the Oxbridge application process are considered carefully and optimised to the greatest extent.

Oxbridge Programme structure

The AOP is a 12-month programme that runs from January to January each year to support students that are currently enrolled in their applications to Cambridge or Oxford universities. There is a meeting every month in which specific aspects of the application process are considered along with relevant task-sets for completion by the next meeting. The year-long schedule proceeds according to the following basic schedule covering the key areas of the application process:

Spring Term

  • university and degree choice
  • college choice
  • additional university choices
  • choice of independent research project

Summer Term

  • resources for pre-interview assessment test
  • supplementary application requirements
  • introduction to UCAS application
  • introduction to UCAS Personal Statement
  • resources for super-curricular development

Summer Vacation

  • completion of Personal Statement
  • completion of independent research project
  • completion of UCAS application
  • pre-interview assessment preparation
  • super-curricular development
  • work experience

Autumn Term

  • submission of application
  • submission of supplementary application material
  • pre-interview assessment test support
  • interview practice

Support is also provided after the autumn term, in January when applicants receive the outcome of their application.

Applying for Oxford and Cambridge

Oxford and Cambridge universities are distinct and different from other British universities in a number of ways, and this is the reason that Ashbourne College runs a specific Oxbridge Programme.

Academic Ranking

The first important aspect of Oxford and Cambridge with regard to other British universities is their academic ranking: in the QS Rankings for 2020 – the principal global academic ranking of universities – Oxford and Cambridge came in the top ten universities in the world for 34 out of 37 degree subjects; furthermore, they came in the top five for 18 degree subjects. While there are some British universities that regularly come in the top ten universities in the world for specific subjects, and occasionally in the top five – for example, UCL is 3rd in the world for Architecture, Imperial College is 5th for Engineering, and LSE is 5th for Economics – no other British universities come close to this level of academic ranking across all their degree subjects. In terms of overall academic quality of undergraduate education, therefore, Oxford and Cambridge offer the highest level in the UK and one of the highest levels in the world.

Tutorial System of Undergraduate Education

The second important aspect of Oxford and Cambridge that is distinct from other British universities is the tutorial system of undergraduate education: every student has a tutor (or tutors) at their college with whom they have weekly tutorials on a one-to-one, two-to-one, or three-to-one basis – while most undergraduates at other British universities can expect small-group seminar teaching, particularly in their final year, and very occasionally even smaller-scale tutorials, no other universities predicate their undergraduate-education system on the tutorial model. Tutorial education is the pinnacle of education because it intensively develops academic and intellectual ability through expert dialogic pedagogy. Oxford and Cambridge, therefore, offer students the highest level of pedagogy available to undergraduates in the UK.


How to apply

Ashbourne offers an adult-approach to learning which is less formal than most schools yet is demanding and disciplined. We believe this helps nurture confident, self-reliant and independent thinking students prepared for the next stages of their lives. We attract students from all over the world making the college a vibrant, diverse and exciting place to learn.

Please get in touch to apply for a place on Ashbourne’s Oxbridge Programme. Email, [email protected], call +44 020 7937 3858 or complete the enquiry form below.

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