The Shadowing Scheme is the UK’s largest free student-led access initiative, which runs Thursday-Saturday residential over three weeks for Year 12 (or equivalent) and mature students studying at a state school in the UK.  Shadows almost entirely come from WP (Widening Participation) backgrounds, including:

  • First-generation students (People whose parents never attended higher education)
  • Looked after and Estranged children
  • Young carers
  • Free school meals/Pupil Premium recipients
  • Students from schools where ‘top university’ entry is not the norm
  • & Those identified as particularly underrepresented

Students shadow (accompany) a current student during their day to day activities, and this creates an opportunity for them to get a valuable and immersive insight into Cambridge student life. Throughout the scheme, students have access to a secure online platform, where they can continue to talk to their mentors once the scheme ends.

Being a mentor is a fantastic experience. You can meet new people, share your passion for your subject, and help make a real difference to a disadvantaged prospective student.


Shadowing Scheme 2023

This year the Scheme will take place in person from Thursday to Saturday on the dates:

  • 26th - 28th January
  • 2nd - 4th February 
  • 9th - 11th February


Shadow Applications

School applications for the 2023 Scheme open on 25th August. Students beginning Y12 or equivalent across the UK are elgible for the Shadowing Scheme. To find out more and to apply, visit


Mentor Applications

Cambridge students can apply to be Mentors for the 2023 Scheme from 19 September until 19 October 2022. 


Our Impact

We're proud of the impact the Shadowing Scheme has had on prospective university applicants for over two decades. The scheme is evaluated each year to monitor impact, and we use the Higher Education Access Tracker (HEAT) to measure participants' progression into HE. You can view the Shadowing Scheme 2022 Impact Report here


Key Contacts

Neve Atkinson, UG Access, Education and Participation Officer:

Frankie Kendal, Activities Coordinator (Access and Widening Participation):

Shadowing Scheme General Enquiries: