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08 SEP 2021
1. The University of Cambridge has launched free an A-level tutoring program for disadvantaged students interested in STEM
In an attempt to help alleviate educational disruption caused by COVID-19 and provide underprivileged students with a better shot at getting into top UK universities, Cambridge has introduced a free 17-month program called STEM SMART designed to “support students in raising their attainment at school” as they prepare to apply for engineering and physical science courses. The program is aimed at students who face socioeconomic barriers and those with limited access to the A-level curriculum, and includes online tutorials, small group supervisions, mentoring and a residential stay at a Cambridge college.
Crimson’s Take: World-leading universities like Cambridge sometimes have a reputation for being elitist institutions that are largely inaccessible to students from disadvantaged backgrounds. We’ve known for years that this is an outdated assessment, but programs like STEM SMART help prove even further that higher education (even at prestigious universities) is more attainable now than ever — and access to it will only continue to grow from here. As a company founded on the principle of leveling the college admissions playing field for students around the world, we always find it uplifting and encouraging to learn about initiatives like this!
2. Despite high vaccination rates at many US universities, the fall semester is off to an unpredictable start
At the hundreds of US universities that announced COVID-19 vaccine mandates ahead of the fall semester, “the vast majority” of students and staff are complying with the requirement — with many Ivies and other top schools reporting vaccination rates well above 90%! However, most universities are still proceeding with caution as positive cases continue to spike just a few weeks into the semester. For many US colleges, classes are shifting online (at least in part) for the next several weeks or longer, with universities providing updated plans on a week-by-week basis for student bodies that are eager to resume in-person classes and activities.
Crimson’s Take: It’s awesome to know that at so many US unis, students and staff are prioritizing the safety of themselves and others so much! To have over 90% of people on campus complying with vaccine mandates at the likes of Harvard, Yale, Brown, Duke, UC Berkeley and so many others is an amazing feat and a clear indication that college communities are working together towards the common goal of putting the pandemic behind us. And although online learning is less than ideal, we encourage students to look at it the same way: as another step towards achieving that common goal!
3. Following months of unprecedented disruption, US college sports are pressing forward with caution
Much like in-person classes, athletics at many US universities are operating under strict COVID-19 limitations including vaccine mandates and frequent testing for players; but what the fall season has in store is still uncertain. In 2020, the cancellation of entire sports seasons was a huge blow for student-athletes’ college careers as well as universities’ athletics programs; so in 2021, most sports conferences plan not to reschedule games but rather, to press on with scheduled competitions with “largely unforgiving policies intended to keep players and coaches safe” — even if it means individuals miss games or teams end up forfeiting.
Crimson’s Take: In the US, athletics are a huge part of universities’ student experience as well as their financial wellbeing. We know that the last 18 months of cancelled and limited seasons have upended college sports, so we certainly understand why many universities and sports conferences are committed to staying the course this school year. However, as bleak as this may sound with COVID-19 cases on the rise in the US, it has actually proven to be a strong incentive for many student-athletes to get vaccinated and observe precautions in order to ensure they stay on the field. So, to us, the outlook seems promising!