Caian encouraging Irish applications

  • 13 February 2023

Paddy Hickey (Law 2021) is keen to demystify the University of Cambridge for students from the Republic of Ireland to boost applications.

Paddy benefitted from the wisdom of another Caian, Seán McMahon (Natural Sciences 2016), when he applied to Gonville & Caius College.

Since his successful application, Paddy has set up a website to encourage others to follow in his footsteps. Irish to Oxbridge contains advice, testimonies and contacts for prospective applicants, their parents and teachers from across the Irish Sea.

“I got in touch with as many Irish undergraduates as I could at Oxford and Cambridge and their networks,” Paddy says.

“They sent me a piece with their experience of applying – what they did, what they read, any advice they have, what they think made the difference, what they’d change if they could go back…

“I wanted to give back by creating a bank of information to help Irish students.”Two men in academic gowns and casual jumpers in Caius Hall

These are detailed as success stories, offering an insight for Irish students into the application process.

Qualifications and application processes are separate, so Paddy had to apply through both Ireland’s Central Applications Office and UCAS. He had an offer from Trinity College, Dublin for a joint-honours in Law and Economics, and – having successfully completed the application process for Cambridge – his offer for Caius was pure Law.

Paddy had not considered Cambridge until his History teacher suggested he thought about applying abroad during a parent-teacher consultation. He initially looked at the United States, but then considered Cambridge when the Covid-19 pandemic saw his SAT postponed.

“With that I looked more in depth, at the prices, rankings and quality of teaching, and compared the top US colleges with Oxford and Cambridge, I decided the UK would be just as good but for a fraction of the price,” he says.

“Originally when I looked at the US, we presumed Brexit would change fees. But Ireland is the only EU country which has an arrangement with Cambridge where Irish students pay home fees. It’s still more expensive than Ireland but knowing that I don’t have to pay overseas fees has been reassuring.”

Paddy, pictured right with a friend in Caius Hall, is a passionate Irishman. His early schooling was in a Gaeltacht region of Kerry, where he learnt Irish. He had a year in France to learn French, then moved to Dublin where he attended an Irish-speaking school.

He had the contingency plan of Trinity, but sought to broaden his horizons as many of his contemporaries from school were going there.

He picked Caius thanks to Seán, who provided personal statement advice and hosted mock interviews.

“He was incredibly helpful with me. I don’t think I would’ve got into Cambridge without him showing me the ropes,” Paddy adds.

While academics remain Paddy’s main motivation for studying at Cambridge, he is enjoying being part of the Hare and Hounds and Athletics Clubs, meeting students from different colleges and year groups. Running provides a structure to his week and helps him work more efficiently.

He enjoys the opportunity to live in different parts of the city and socialising with friends at home, in College and elsewhere in the city.

“I love it here,” he says.

:: Visit Irish to Oxbridge for more information.