From AC to TV via Oxbridge

Inspiration and support from teachers inspires Oxbridge places and regular TV appearances on BBC’s University Challenge for Alton College students.

After studying Maths, Physics, Biology and Chemistry gaining A* and A grades in 2010, Carys Redman-White went on to study Veterinary Science at Clare College, Cambridge University. She recently went on to represent them as captain on University Challenge. Her brother Nye, who studied Chemistry, Physics, Maths and Further Maths at Alton College, has also represented Cambridge on the programme.

Jonathan Foxwell and Lizzy Cole are amongst other alumni who have taken part in the national Higher Education competition. Lizzy captained the Newnham College, Cambridge team in 2009. She explained she thoroughly enjoyed the experience and Jeremy Paxman’s reputation for being a tough interviewer was not apparent. She said: “We won our first round match against Sussex University, scoring 265, but we got knocked out by an all-male team from St Andrews University in the second. Filming was great fun. We got to meet lots of other teams and Paxman himself was so charming.”

Lizzy, who hadn’t considered applying for university at all before studying at Alton, added:  “I was the first person in my family to apply and when someone suggested I look into Oxbridge I was surprised and a bit overwhelmed by the idea. However, I joined the Oxbridge support group where we were given advice and guidance to help make the whole thing seem less scary. I was also given an Oxbridge tutor who helped support me through interviews.”

Jonathan, now studying for a PhD in Pathology at Oxford University, said he really enjoyed the filming but said it was terrifying, especially when he was told the viewing figures were around three million. He explained he felt prepared for university when leaving Alton College. Jonathan remembers attending the Applying for Competitive Courses enrichment and said the meetings were particularly helpful for the early stages of his Oxbridge application. “Being involved in activities like the Rocket Scientists programme also helped. One of the questions I was asked at interview was about some research and reading I’d been doing outside of my courses, so I had a great example to use.”

The Alton College Class of 2014 are currently receiving offers from a number of Russell Group universities including Oxford and Cambridge.

Photo of Clare College, Cambridge, courtesy of the University of Cambridge.