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High Achievers’ Programme – 2023 Summer School Success Stories

In July and August 2023, some of Joseph Chamberlain College’s students on the college’s High Achievers’ Programme were accepted onto the Sutton Trust Summer Schools programme; they were given the opportunity to live on campus and experience university life and received invaluable support with admissions tests and interviews.

Students attended the University of Bristol, University of Cambridge, University of Durham, and University of Warwick, exploring a range of subjects taught by leading academics, including medicine, mathematical sciences and psychology.

One student was selected onto two summer residential programmes – one at the University of Cambridge and one at the University of Oxford.

Here, Nusaiba explains her experiences:


Sutton Trust Summer School – Cambridge University

During my stay at St John’s College in Cambridge, I gained valuable insight as to what life as a Cambridge student is like and the different activities there are available around the university. For example, one of the activities the summer school held was a punting trip, which is a staple to the Cambridge experience. We travelled in a wooden boat through the beautiful setting down a river.

There were many icebreakers to make ourselves comfortable and give us a chance to meet new people. These included a college scavenger hunt, visits to the library and a movie night.

I also had the chance to participate in a formal Cambridge dinner, which is also a key feature of the university experience and occurs once a week. On the whole, it was extremely formal, with a ceremony in which someone hit a gong and read a speech in Latin. The food also was great!

The summer school was also extremely helpful academically. We took part in a series of short lecture-style lessons as an introduction to university topics. The mathematical topics include Counting and Probability, the Brachistochrone, and analysing information and patterns in decimals. I had chosen mathematics as my subject for the summer school, and there was also a lot of assistance with the admissions test for mathematics.

We had a STEP workshop where current university students went through how to approach the questions with knowledge from an A-Level standpoint.

In addition, as part of the academic sessions, we had the opportunity to participate in ‘supervisions’, which are essentially small group teaching tutorials. Another ‘summer schooler’ and I experienced Oxbridge-style supervision with a Professor of Mathematics and went through information we didn’t understand to solidify our understanding. This offered another taster of what university life is like at Cambridge, and the close discussion was helpful in ensuring we understood the topics being taught.

A photo from the Summer School Programme - used for decorative purposes only.

University of Oxford

UNIQ Academic Residential 

During my stay at Oxford, I resided at Exeter College. The residential was an amazing experience where I had the chance to explore Oxford from the perspective of a university student as well as a tourist. As a student of mathematics, I had the chance to participate in lectures on mathematics in the university’s Andrew Wiles building. We also had a MAT admissions lecture, which gave us extra information and support for the university’s admissions test. Outside of the residential, UNIQ offers support with admissions to Oxford and help with writing a personal statement delivered through live streams.

A photo from the Summer School Programme - used for decorative purposes only.

A photo from the Summer School Programme - used for decorative purposes only.

Overall Experience:

Both Oxbridge experiences were extremely helpful and enjoyable. Cambridge and Oxford are beautiful cities with their ancient buildings and picturesque scenery. It also created the opportunity to meet other students from different parts of the UK, and we’ve kept in contact. I would recommend applying for the Sutton Trust and UNIQ Summer Schools – they have definitely motivated and helped me prepare for an Oxbridge application.


Joseph Chamberlain College is extremely proud of all the students who participated and hugely appreciates how the Sutton Trust and UNIQ Oxford summer schools’ programmes have opened the door to opportunities that will benefit these students for years to come. The college would also like to thank Nusaiba for sharing her experience.