Social media handles are swapped just as readily as mobile phone numbers in a wood-panelled room within the Wills Memorial Building as University of Bristol freshers get to know each other at a special welcome event.
But there is only one answer to the question, ‘Where are you from?’ for this particular group of first years who are the university’s inaugural intake of Bristol Scholars.
The pioneering new scheme identified academic talent locally, making lower offers to high potential pupils taking into account any form of educational disadvantage.
More than 40 Bristol Scholars from 17 local schools are now enrolled on a wide range of degrees courses.
Among them is former St Bede’s in Lawrence Weston student Laura Odemwingie, 19, from Lockleaze, who is studying medical biochemistry:
Another Bristol Scholar is 18-year-old Emily Derrick from Ashton, the first of her family that has ever been to university.
Despite getting an A* in philosophy, Emily’s other A-level results were a B in history and a C in English, but thanks to the Bristol Scholars scheme that she learned about at Ashton Park School she was offered slightly lower grades due to her evident aptitude for philosophy, which she is now studying as an undergraduate.
“It feels good because I know someone has my back,” Emily said about Bristol Scholars in between meeting some of the other new cohorts from across the city.
“It’s going to be challenging but I feel like I’m not stressing that I won’t be good enough because I know I have got this help.”
Professor Judith Squires, pro vice-chancellor for education at the University of Bristol, said: “The Bristol Scholars pilot cohort is a varied, talented and engaging group – ingredients of brilliant students.
“They will bring a real diversity of experience and perspective to enrich our University. We hope their time here is rewarding and enjoyable.
“The scheme is intended to capture the talent we know exists in our locality, to demonstrate the University’s commitment to Bristol’s schools and colleges and to provide alternative entry routes into our programmes.
“Our ultimate goal is to recruit the most able students and to ensure they have the opportunity to fulfil their potential, irrespective of their background.”
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