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Programmes for High Flyers: Oxbridge and Medicine

Early Applicants: Oxbridge, Medics, Dentists and Vets

Hereford Sixth Form College encourages and supports academically gifted students to realise their potential to win places at the highest ranked universities in an increasingly competitive environment.

This is achieved through the quality of our subject teaching and the Reach programme, which is a bespoke programme of one hour a week from January of Year 1. This includes:

  • Workshops on the application progress to give personalised support to our most able.
  • Subject enhancement – support with super curricular extension activities to demonstrate candidates' potential for academic excellence in their chosen subjects.
  • Preparation for universities' own Admissions Tests, or Thinking Skills Assessments: an increasingly common requirement for Higher Tariff (Russell Group) Universities.
  • Intensive interview preparation and presentational skills training.
  • Using our close working relationships with Oxbridge colleges' Schools Liaison Officers and Admissions teams; Admissions Tutors come and deliver sessions on Personal Statement writing and Interviews at the college.
  • Privileged access to universities' widening participation initiatives available only to the maintained sector.
  • Tutoring for the STEP tests for Mathematics.
  • Specialist careers support from our staff, but also from our increasingly successful alumni.
  • Access to a range of international opportunites including Sutton Trust US and UK, Villiers Park, UNIQ, HE+, CanBridge, and Summer Schools.

We have a dedicated team of specialist advisors to assist students considering applying for Oxbridge and for aspiring medics, vets and dentists; these students are known collectively as 'Early Applicants' because their university applications currently have to be made in the October before they sit their A Level exams.

Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Medicine

These students have their own distinct support programme run by the Careers Department.
The programme includes:

  • Advice on work experience and volunteering.
  • Advice on wider reading and research.
  • Access to specialised university taster sessions.
  • Individual and group mock interviews.
  • Talks from former students, professionals and specialists in these subjects.

Medicine is also one of the most popular streams on the HE+ programme which is staffed by consultants from the local hospital.


The competition for places at Oxford and Cambridge has been increasing steadily since 2000, but the number of places available remains much the same.

Hereford Sixth Form continues to have national success with their Reach cohort, and we now have amongst the highest percentage of applicants to offers in the sector. This year, a 22 out of 58 applicants received offers, after the support of the Reach programme for two years. This represented 38% of those who applied, against a national average of fewer than 20% receiving offers. 

  • 22 out of 58 applicants received offers for 2021.
  • 31 out of 74 applicants received offers for 2020. 
  • 17 out of 51 applicants received offers for 2019. 
  • 21 out of 57 applicants received offers for 2018.
  • 10 out of 37 applicants received offers for 2017.
  • 13 out of 40 applicants received offers for 2016.
  • 14 out of 38 applicants received offers for 2015.

Early applicants who do not receive Oxbridge offers nevertheless gain valuable experience and most win places at Russell Group universities (including Imperial, UCL, LSE, Durham, Bristol, St. Andrews) to study some of the most competitive subjects. 
The programme also now supports applicants considering applying to universities in the USA, Ireland and Continental Europe.

All of my teachers and the careers staff have been very supportive and helpful. My tutor read over my personal statement multiple times, as well as the Oxbridge Co-Ordinator, Politics and Philosophy teachers. Applying to Oxford felt like a pipe dream; the HE+ programme and support at HSFC made it feel achievable. Every one of my teachers goes above and beyond with workshops and help inside and outside lessons.

Meg Hopkins (Politics, Philosophy and Economics Applicant 2019)

Early Applicants programme

What's important to the top universities?

It is increasingly clear that Oxbridge admissions tutors now focus almost exclusively on academic excellence (already demonstrated and potential), plus enthusiasm and aptitude for their subject. Subject specific Admissions Tests or Thinking Skills Assessments set by universities are increasingly the norm for higher tariff universities.   It is worth noting that these are often during October half term holiday.

Extra curricular activities count for much less than in the past. So, while the College provides every opportunity for students to participate in Sports, Music and the Arts generally, this programme is about academic success.

Lecture at Christ's College Cambridge for Early Applicants and HE+ students

Lecture at Christ's College Cambridge for Early Applicants and HE+ students

Who can join Reach?

The Reach programme is open to those who already have a proven track record of academic success, but also those who show excellence on arrival at Sixth Form College.

All students with five or more 8/9 or A*s at GCSE are automatically enrolled on the programme.  However, contextual information is considered to explain why an evidently gifted student gained fewer GCSE at this level than might otherwise have been possible.

The Early Applicants' Reach programme runs in parallel with (and in addition to) the Cambridge HE+ project led by Hereford Sixth Form College.

Widening participation

Large numbers of our students gain places on prestigious Widening Participaton initiatives.  A selection of these are:

  • Oxford's UNIQ Summer School where 12 students gained places in 2019.  
  • Villiers Park where 9 students gained places in 2019.
  • The Sutton Trust where 3 students gained places for the UK programme and 1 student for the US programme.
  • Physics and computing taster days at Cambridge and Oxford.
  • The Oxford Pathways Study days
  • The Cambridge STEM summer school.
  • Oxford's Woman in Maths masterclasses.
  • Various essay competitions.


Subject selection

For all Early Applicants, choosing the right combination of A Levels is crucial. For example:

  • Many Oxbridge science courses require or prefer A Level Maths; specialist Maths teachers will advise on the appropriate course to select.
  • For medicine, dentistry and veterinary science entry requirements vary from university to university but Chemistry and Biology are now essential at most.

Requirements may also change from year to year, but advice will be given at enrolment.

Please contact the Oxbridge Coordinator or Careers Team if you have queries.

HE+ launch: L-R: Olivia Matthewson (Cambridge), Maria Law (John Masefield), Vicky Orsmond (Hereford Sixth Form College), and Richard Williams (The Chase)

HE+ launch: L-R: Olivia Matthewson (Cambridge), Maria Law (John Masefield), Vicky Orsmond (Hereford Sixth Form College), and Richard Williams (The Chase)