South Tyneside teenager takes to Cambridge University life

STUDY SCHEME ... Shannon Bedlington at Cambridge University.
STUDY SCHEME ... Shannon Bedlington at Cambridge University.
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A SOUTH Shields student has been sampling academic life at one of the world’s most famous universities.

Shannon Bedlington has been trying out life as a Cambridge undergraduate, as part of a scheme to give bright youngsters from non-university backgrounds the chance to experience what it’s like to study at a top seat of learning.

The 17-year-old pupil, of St Joseph’s RC Academy in Hebburn, attended lectures and social events, and met with a student from the university’s Corpus Christi College.

Shannon, who hopes to study natural sciences for her degree, was one of 360 participants in the 2014 Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU) shadowing scheme.

She said: “I saw the scheme in my school bulletin and applied, but I didn’t expect to get in. I’ve experienced a lot of aspects of student life, from lectures, to tours of the town and some very nice coffee. It’s nicer than expected and more diverse.”

Sam Ruiz, access officer for CUSU and one of the organisers of this year’s scheme, said “The shadowing scheme gives bright students from state schools the chance to experience university life, and really helps to break down the myths surrounding Cambridge.

“We know that some students may be put off applying to Cambridge by misconceptions and negative stereotypes, while others just may not have considered Cambridge or higher education as viable options at all.

“We hope the experience students like Shannon get from the shadowing scheme will help them to make informed choices about their options post-sixth-form.” Priority for places on the shadowing scheme is given to young people with a strong academic track record, but who attend schools with little experience of sending students to Cambridge or Oxford, and who have few family members with experience of higher education.

‘Shadows’ stay in a Cambridge college, attend lectures with their undergraduate mentors, and try out social activities with the university’s 600 student societies, which cover almost every interest, from journalism, American football, and radio production to rowing.

Schools and youth organisations can find out more on CUSU’s work at

Applications for the 2015 shadowing scheme open in October 2014.

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