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  • Freshers Concert

     

    It’s a Selwyn tradition to invite our musical freshers to give a recital at the start of the academic year. We went ahead with an event in Hall on Sunday October 25th with social distancing measures in place – and, as you’ll see from the video, additional cleaning measures too.

    The video includes excerpts from a number of performances, and we congratulate our new students on their instrumental talents. The Selwyn College Music Society will continue to hold in-person events through the term, as long as health regulations permit. You can read more about the SCMS here: https://www.sel.cam.ac.uk/current-members/information-students/selwyn-college-music-society-scms

    Video here.

  • Four new fellows were installed in a ceremony in the college chapel on Tuesday October 6th. The installation was led by the master, Roger Mosey, and it was attended by a smaller number of senior members than usual because of the health restrictions. But it had all the traditional features with the fellows making their declaration of loyalty to Selwyn; signing the fellows’ book; and then being guided to their stalls in the chapel.  

    Fellows 2020

    We are delighted to welcome (from left to right):

    • Professor Robert Tasker, medicine
    • Professor Grant Stewart, medicine
    • Dr Anna Lippert, Sir Henry Wellcome postdoctoral fellow
    • Dr Lynn Dicks, zoology

    A full list of Selwyn’s fellows can be found here: https://www.sel.cam.ac.uk/list-of-fellows

  • The college has welcomed its new postgraduate and undergraduate students, and we wish them all a long and happy association with Selwyn.

    The health emergency required some creative thinking about the taking of matriculation photographs. We did this by gathering students together in Old Court in their households – typically a group of between 6 and 8 students who are allowed to mix without social distancing - and then spreading the clusters of people across the lawn with at least 2m between each one. This is how it looked for the undergraduates.

    Matriculation 2020 - 1

    The students were then joined at the front of the cohort by (left to right) the head porter; the praelector; the master; the senior tutor and the chaplain.

    Matriculation 2020 - 2

    And this is the final result. One set of photos was taken with face coverings off, and one with masks on.

    Matriculation 2020 - 3

    There was also the opportunity for the occasional selfie within a household grouping…

    Matriculation Selfie

     

    Below is the address by the master, Roger Mosey, for our incoming students.

    "Every year we welcome students, and I’ve been master of the college since 2013 – so this is actually the eighth time I’ve done so… But I promise you: never have I done so with such conviction, and such a heartfelt appreciation for the fact that you’re here. As a generation of students, you have had a uniquely tough experience – so you’re already special to us, and we can’t wait to get to know you better.

    You are all equally welcome; but I do want to single out those who have travelled far from their homes to come to Cambridge. We’re honoured that you chose this university, and we’d thrilled that you’re now part of our community. We are resolutely and proudly and forever international in our outlook. We are British, we are European, we are citizens of the world and everyone is welcome here.

    During your induction, you’re going to hear quite a lot about Covid and health – so I’m not going to dwell on it myself. But I have one simple message, and that is: we have it in our control either to get it right by putting safety first – or to put our community at risk by cutting corners and doing daft things. If we want to bring about a local lockdown, we can see here and abroad how to do it. But I’ve been hugely encouraged by the responsibility shown so far by Selwyn students; and therefore all I ask is that you continue that way.

    What I want to focus on instead is the nature of the college you’re joining and what kind of community we are. You’ll probably know some of the basic facts. We were founded in 1882 at the height of the Victorian age – rather churchy in our original conception, but over the decades we became a regular full service Cambridge college, with full status from 1958.

    We like to say we’re about two things: being friendly, but also with the highest academic standards. The two go together. There is no point being chummy if we’re intellectually weak as a college; and equally we don’t want this to be one of those arid places where everyone is cooped up in a library or lab and never sees the light of day. We were eighth out of 31 Cambridge colleges in the last league table published in 2019; and if there had been one this year we might have been even higher.

    The other things I need to tell you about Selwyn:

    We are a charity. It’s a charity with the simple purpose of providing a home for education, learning and research. Therefore we make no profits (indeed, the bursar will tell you that we make a significant operating loss, which is balanced by gifts from kind donors) and we are not a manifestation of the marketization of higher education.

    We are democratic. The MCR and JCR are represented both on the college council and on the governing body. This means that if you have issues, they can be represented on the college’s decision making bodies – though the overwhelming majority of concerns are resolved amicably by direct contact through your tutors or supervisors or via the college staff.

    We are not hierarchical, and we are not posh: there is an old stereotype of Cambridge which is all about May Balls and upper class young people falling over while clutching bottles of champagne – and it is simply not the daily reality of this university. The senior tutor and I and most of the academics here come from regular backgrounds. My parents ran a shop in a tough part of Bradford in Yorkshire, and I know about the battle to survive on low incomes or what it’s like when your family experiences unemployment.

    We therefore take all issues of equality and diversity very seriously. Even before the events of this summer, which gave many of us new insights into injustices worldwide, we have had a cast-iron commitment to being a diverse college in which everyone is treated equally and with respect. We have zero tolerance for racism or xenophobia or homophobia or misogyny or any form of discrimination. You have a right here to be who you want to be, and we will support you 100% in achieving that.

    We also believe in free speech and open academic debate. The university free speech guidelines, adopted earlier this year with the backing of the student unions, says that this is a place for “robust, challenging, evidence-based and civil debate as a core part of academic inquiry” – and that is why, here in college and across Cambridge, you will sometimes hear views with which you passionately disagree. But, as long as they are civilly expressed, they are part of what allows the best ideas and fresh thinking to emerge.

    That points to why it’s important not to let ourselves see our mission at the moment as being dominated by the health emergency. This is a university that has always been about innovation and breaking barriers and transforming human knowledge: Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin walked the streets that you do, and we’ve been home to the greatest lawyers and historians and artists and poets. We are leaders in combatting climate change, and it is on the biomedical campus that you will find world-leading efforts to improve our health.

    So most important of all: do not rein in your ambitions. I hope this doesn’t sound arrogant, but I think now – more than ever – the world needs Cambridge thinking, and brains like yours. As politics gets ever more fractious, it requires our respect for data; our interpretations of the rule of law; and our understanding for why some people take a different view of the world to ours.

    And the University of Cambridge’s existence for more than 800 years gives us some perspective on the times we live in. This is university that has been through wars and plagues, and revolutions and counter-revolutions; and yet Cambridge has always emerged stronger. It has amplified its voice in Britain and across the world, and it makes our own lives better and richer – but crucially it has transformed the lives of so many people we will never know. That must remain its goal.

    So on a day like today which is about new beginnings: I wish you luck and determination and the desire to make a difference. Because the evidence is that you will – and the fellows and staff and I will be with you, every step of the way, to help you succeed."

  • StaySafeCambridgeUni

    Please additionally see the COVID-19 documents page.

    The master Roger Mosey wrote to all students at Selwyn on September 22nd about the term ahead:

    "Dear all

    We’ve already welcomed a number of students back to the college – joining the small community that’s been here throughout the health emergency – and now we’re prepared for the full contingent of undergraduate and postgraduate students to arrive in the next couple of weeks. We’re delighted that the college is buzzing with activity again; but I have a very important message to share.

    If we are to continue through this academic year with the maximum activity and the minimum disruption, it will require all of us to live our lives as safely as possible. We must take the greatest possible care of ourselves as individuals, and also think continuously about our responsibilities to others. That applies to me as master, to the fellows and staff and to every single student. Only by doing so will we minimise the risks.  Looking after each other, a key part of Selwyn since its foundation, is now more important than ever.

    So please read thoroughly and carefully all the latest guidance. This gives an overview across Cambridge:

    https://www.cam.ac.uk/coronavirus/stay-safe-cambridge-uni

    And this section, as an example, explains one of the main ways we’re going to organise ourselves within colleges – by having student ‘households’ who are able to socialise safely with each other:

    https://www.cam.ac.uk/coronavirus/stay-safe-cambridge-uni/living-in-cambridge#households

    As in other colleges, student households will be the foundation stone for living together at Selwyn. A household is defined by the sharing of kitchen and, where appropriate, bathroom/toilet facilities. In general this means that your household will be formed by the other students on the same landing as you in a staircase or those with whom you share a hostel kitchen. In a number of cases - staircases C to F in Old Court, ground floor of H, parts of J and K, ground floor and first floor of N, ground floor and first floor of P,  ground floor and first floor of Q, ground floor and first floor of R - students will be part of a household with others on the floor above/below. In Selwyn the smallest households consist of four students; the largest of 11. The vast majority include between six and eight students. Specific guidance on which students will make up your household will follow very shortly.

    Generally the university-wide advice is supplemented by a lot of detail that we have developed here within the college. We’ve been working with student and staff representatives – and taking the latest external advice – through the past months; and there is a full reopening plan that has been approved by the college council. Let me highlight three key points:

    • We have adopted a colour-coded status system to allow us to react quickly to national and local developments.  Any move to a new status will be agreed by the college council, which includes JCR and MCR representatives. A copy is attached.
    • We have also developed a student protocol to summarise the key things you can do to help everyone stay safe at Selwyn. It will be circulated later this week, along with more details about testing and isolation. Attached is the college social distancing and face coverings policy which is now in operation.
    • Along with most of Higher Education we have come to the view that we cannot responsibly allow overnight visitors in the college for the foreseeable future, because all the advice we receive is that this would significantly increase the risks to everyone and it wouldn’t be possible to operate safely and fairly within a household system.  

    While you will notice that a lot has changed here at Selwyn to keep everyone safe, a lot is also still the same. Provided national guidance continues to allow it, in-person small group teaching wherever possible will remain a cornerstone of our approach. We have put a marquee in Old Court and screens in the servery to make sure we can still offer sit-down meals; and college bar is open, with the marquee doubling up as extra social space in the evenings.  

    More will follow later this week. It's important to say that the guidance nationally and locally will change, sometimes at short notice. We will update you whenever it does. But the responsibility sits with each one of us to know what the college is asking of everyone, either because it is legally required or because it is best practice; and because of the seriousness of Covid, as a community we will not be able to tolerate any wilful breaking of the rules.

    Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with your tutor or with the senior tutor, bursar, vice-master or me direct if you have any immediate questions. But in the meantime, despite these challenging times, a warm welcome whether you’re new here or returning; and I’ll look forward to seeing everyone again very soon.

    Roger Mosey"

     

     

  • A F Steadman

    Recent alumna Annabel Steadman has won a record-breaking deal for a series of children’s books. Reports say that a fierce bidding war led to a sum in seven figures for the novels, with film rights going for a similarly high valuation.

    Ms Steadman, who is now 28, studied law at Selwyn. More recently, she also took an MSt course at the college in creative writing. You can read more about her books – and why unicorns aren’t as nice as you might think – in this story in the Guardian.

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/sep/16/bloodthirsty-unicorns-debut-author-record-publishing-deal-annabel-steadman-skandar-and-the-unicorn-thief

  • Dr Deepak Venkateshvaran

    Congratulations to Selwyn fellow and director of studies in Physics Dr Deepak Venkateshvaran, who has been awarded a prestigious Royal Society university research fellowship.

    These are annual awards for outstanding scientists who have the potential to become leaders in their chosen fields. Generously funded for five years, the fellowship scheme provides an opportunity for an awardee to build an independent research career, and offers the freedom to pursue ambitious research projects of fundamental and applied interest.

    The research programme that Dr Venkateshvaran intends to pursue will explore novel electrical routes to controlling the mechanics of organic polymers at the nanoscale. The research direction will bring together his knowledge of musical drums at the macroscale with polymer electronics on the nanoscale, and build functional electromechanical devices for use in bio-sensing, materials characterisation and applied non-linear dynamics.

    There’s more about the fellowships here:

    https://royalsociety.org/news/2020/08/royal-society-announces-university-research-fellowships-for-2020/

  • Senate House

    At Selwyn we are very much looking forward to greeting our new freshers this autumn. We are expecting this to be the most socially diverse cohort in the college’s history, with our percentage state school students projected to reach a new high of 79%.

    In the light of the changing positions of UK governments on A-Level results, this is the latest statement on admissions from Cambridge University.

    **

    Following the announcement from Ofqual on 17th August (and similar announcements by other examination boards and authorities) we are working as quickly as possible to provide certainty for students who were made an initial offer by the University.

    While we require time to work through the process we would like to provide the following reassurances to applicants:

    Applicants with a place already confirmed will be admitted

    We look forward to welcoming all offer holders who have had their admission confirmed to date. These offers are final and will not change or be withdrawn unless specifically agreed between the college and the student.

    Applicants who were made an offer that was not confirmed following release of initial results will be admitted if their centre assessment grades (CAGs) now meet the conditions of their offer

    Any applicant who was made an offer by the University will be admitted if their CAGs meet the conditions of their offer and if they still wish to come to Cambridge. This does not apply to offer-holders for mathematics because places are confirmed on the basis of additional Sixth Term Examination Papers (STEP).

    Any student who successfully appeals the assessment process and therefore meets the conditions of their offer will be admitted.

    Deferral to 2021 will be required for some offer holders

    The number of places we can confirm in 2020 will depend upon a number of factors, including our ability to increase places in subjects, our teaching capacity and the amount of accommodation that colleges can provide. Given the capacity issues caused by this unprecedented situation, some offer holders who meet their offers after 17 August will have to defer for a year. We will do as much as we can to minimise this requirement by seeking volunteers for deferral from across the whole cohort, including those who have already had their places confirmed for 2020. Further information on this will be released over the coming days.

    Students who have not previously had their place confirmed and who just missed their offer based on CAGs will not be admitted

    Regrettably, given the unprecedented situation we cannot now admit any offer holders who have not met the conditions of their offer based on revised results.

    If students have met the University’s typical offer for their course but not the offer set by their chosen college, please contact that College for further advice.

    If students sit examinations this autumn and gain the results required to meet the terms of their original offer they will be admitted in 2021

    We understand that there will be an opportunity to take examinations this autumn, and that students may decide to sit those if their summer grades are lower than expected.  The University of Cambridge will confirm entry in October 2021 if the terms of the original offer are met as a result of taking those examinations. Where possible, students will be admitted to the College where their offer is currently held. Students should notify the College from which they are currently holding an offer by no later than 31 August if they intend to take the autumn examinations.

    Timing

    We expect to receive CAGs via UCAS. However we do not yet know the timescale for receiving these data and so we ask offer holders to continue to be patient. If in the meantime candidates or their schools wish to advise us informally regarding CAGs they should contact the College that made the offer so that we know to expect a revised result.

    Although this is as much information as we can provide at this stage, please rest assured that we are committed to ensuring that everyone knows where they stand as soon as possible.

    **

    You can read an earlier statement by the vice-chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, here:

    https://www.cam.ac.uk/coronavirus/news/statement-on-2020-a-level-results-and-cambridge-university-admissions

  • Exam Results

    If you are holding a conditional offer of a place at Selwyn College and have met all the conditions in your offer and have the grades required, congratulations!  We will contact you via email, and you will soon see your confirmation through UCAS Track. There is no need for you to contact us.

    If you have not quite met the offer, please be patient as we will be in touch with you once our decisions are finalised.

    If you are not holding an offer from us, we regret we cannot take an application at this time. Please do not contact the college.

    Selwyn College, like all the colleges of Cambridge University, does not participate in clearing.  If your examination results are much better than expected and you are not eligible for adjustment and you wish to try for a place at Cambridge, the only option is to apply in the next admissions cycle for entry in October 2021.

    There is more information from the University available here: http://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/applying