Two Oldham students study at both Oxford AND Cambridge

Date published: 17 April 2024

Securing a place to study at either the University of Oxford or the University of Cambridge is a phenomenal achievement.

But to get to study at both is an experience that only very few people will ever enjoy.

That’s why it is so remarkable that TWO former Oldham Sixth Form College (OSFC) students are in this incredible position.

Jessica (Jess) Frater joined OSFC from Hollingworth Academy in 2017, and excelled during her time in Oldham, achieving two A* grades in Psychology and Chemistry, alongside an A in Maths in her A Levels.

This performance allowed her to progress to Churchill College, Cambridge, where she made the most of all opportunities, including sport and music, leaving in 2022 with a first class BA degree in Psychological and Behavioural Sciences.

After a gap year, during which she observed the interactions and tensions between monkeys and humans in Gibraltar, Jess has now moved on to St Hilda’s College at the University of Oxford, where she is six months into her MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management - which she is greatly enjoying.

Her upcoming research project will investigate the influence of the media on public perceptions of conservation.

Alongside this, Jess is currently weighing up her next steps, considering research assistant and PhD opportunities in Oxford that build on her interest in the moral dimensions of contested conservation issues.

Ultimately, she hopes to use her psychological knowledge to understand the human side of the joint biodiversity and conservation crises.

Jess said: “A few years ago, I wouldn't have believed it if someone had told me about the places I would go to and the things I would achieve.

"It’s important to take each stage at a time, and surround yourself with supportive people - I am so grateful to OSFC for believing in me, challenging me, and kick-starting my journey!”.

Then there is Vishal Gupta (pictured above).

Vishal went to OSFC from Waterhead Academy, having already achieved an A* in his Maths A Level which he took in Year 10.

Like Jess, he thrived at sixth form, adding three more A*s, in Further Maths, Physics and Computer Science, during his time with OSFC.

It came as little surprise when he was offered a place to study Mathematics at St. John’s College, Cambridge, where he achieved a first class degree in 2023, and carried on to Part III Mathematics, which is seen as one of the hardest Maths courses in the world.

OSFC were then delighted to hear recently that, in October, Vishal will be moving to New College at Oxford University, where he once spent a summer school while at OSFC, to begin a PhD in the area of analytic number theory. 

He will be working with a world-renowned professor, James Maynard, who won the Fields Medal (equivalent to a Nobel Prize in Mathematics) in 2022. 

During his academic journey, Vishal won the Pythagoras Prize at Cambridge and is having his Masters and PhD funded by a scholarship from the Martingale Foundation.

Vishal is enthusiastic about everything mathematical and, since leaving OSFC, has worked with students there, both in person and virtually, as they have prepared for applications to prestigious universities, as well as helping out at summer schools at Cambridge too.

He is excited about his upcoming research, using complex analysis to try to answer questions about prime numbers that have puzzled mathematicians for thousands of years!

Vishal said: “I’m passionate about Maths education and I hope to share the opportunities I had - and create new opportunities for others, including OSFC students - as a way to give back.”

Needless to say, everyone at OSFC is incredibly proud of Jess and Vishal, and all they have achieved and continue to achieve.

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