Harrow School: University Application Support

Harrow School shares its considerable universities admissions experience with local state schools through ‘Lumina’: the renowned free 5-day summer school for Year 12s followed by Harrow’s autumn programme of UCAS and Oxbridge support. Lumina, run in partnership with Twyford CofE Academies Trust and now in its third year, annually reaches approximately 30 different state schools while the later mock interviews and academic lectures for Year 13s involve up to 10 other schools.

Through these programmes, Harrow School aims to:

  • Use its knowledge and experience to help make Oxbridge applications more accessible.
  • Encourage and prepare more talented pupils from the state sector to aim for Oxford and Cambridge as well as Russell Group Universities in general.

What it involves

  • Harrow LuminaLumina: the summer school offers state school pupils valuable talks, masterclasses and university visits. Current Oxbridge tutors discuss the admissions process while subject tutorials are held based on that year’s students’ requirements. Subject lectures from Astro-Physics to Law are also offered, as well workshops on refining personal statements. The final two days consist of trips to Oxford and Cambridge to give the students vital first-hand experience of the universities.
  • Offered for the first time in 2015, attendees of the Lumina Course can gain personal statement feedback from Harrow, with drop-in clinics being run up to the Oxbridge deadline.
  • UCAS and Oxbridge Support: Since 2013 mock interview exchange programmes organised by different Harrow departments have been arranged with multiple local state schools. Pupils are interviewed by subject specialists, gaining relevant follow-up feedback crucial to helping them improve their performance. ‘Exchange Visits’ are often arranged, giving Harrow boys and state school pupils applying for the same degree course the opportunity to be interviewed and receive feedback at their counterpart’s school.
  • More recently, Harrow School has invited local state school pupils to academic events circulated to the schools through a termly calendar, helping students build evidence of extra-curricular engagement for their university applications. Events have included a talk by the United States Ambassador to the UK and a Cross-Curricular Lecture Series of Creation and Creativity.

Harrow School’s Involvement

Harrow School LuminaThe Lumina Summer School was initiated by Harrow's Headmaster and uses the school’s buildings and facilities, including two boarding houses.

The course relies upon the enthusiasm of the 20 Harrow teachers involved, as well as the participation of external speakers and current Oxbridge students, many of whom attended Harrow, which they help organise.

Harrow School hosts, and its teachers are involved in, subject mock interviews and academic events open to local state schools.


Both of these programmes provide significant opportunities which the pupils may not otherwise have had access to.

At least 19 students received offers from Oxford and Cambridge in Lumina’s 2015 cohort, while 90 held one or more offers from Russell Group Universities, with many contacting Harrow School stating how helpful their personal statement feedback was.

One student said: “The Lumina Course has definitely helped me demystify Oxbridge and although I have a few personal insecurities, the Lumina Course has helped me see Oxford and Cambridge as universities I would like to try to apply to more confidently than before. It now seems possible.”

The programme of mock interviews was initially for pupils from Chelsea Academy and Whitmore High due to their contact with Harrow School. However, as pupils found being interviewed by a specialist in unfamiliar surroundings so beneficial, it was expanded to include more local schools. In 2016 at least five state school pupils involved in these exchanges gained Oxbridge offers.

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