Introduction to the collegiate system

University of Cambridge has a collegiate system where the university is an association comprising 31 different colleges.

Below is the key function of the University (through its faculties & departments) and Colleges:

UniversityCollege
Determine course contentsAdmit Undergraduate studies
Set and mark
examinations
Organise small-group teaching (Supervisions)
Award degreeResponsible for academic & pastoral care
Provide accommodation, places to eat and recreational facilities

Your Options:

When it comesto selecting a College, you have 2 options – you can either choose a particular College to receive your application, or you can make an ‘open application’ and accept the allocation made by a computer programme. In both cases, your UCAS application will be sent to a College, and that College will assess
it.

How to choose a college

An amazing website has been put together, which provides all the necessary information about the colleges, and even ranks them according to different aspects (e.g. food quality, accommodation quality etc..). It is an invaluable tool to help you make the best decision. Do check it out here!

When considering the Colleges, these are the aspects that you should, or what most applicants tend to consider:

CourseSome Colleges do not offer certain subjects so check the availability for the course you are interested in.
AgeThree colleges (St Edmund’s, Wolfson and Hughes Hall) are exclusively for mature students (aged 21 or over). Note: There are cases where applicants are pooled and accepted by a mature college, and hence is forced to defer his/her entry. It is up to you if you want to attend another university or enjoy a bonus year of respite!
FacilitiesGym, music room, chapel, badminton courts, squash courts, swimming pool, punts, library, river Cam, etc.
GenderTwo colleges consider applications from female students only.
(Murray Edwards and Newnham)But this doesn’t mean that you only hang out with girls!
Location & Distance from city centre & facultyGirton College may be far from town but it is huge and pretty!
Subject RankingTompkins Table(Don’t take this too seriously! It is much more about your personal endeavour and hard work. College rank is never representative of your results!) Application Statistics
Application StatisticsApplication statistics for each college and course go all the way back to 2008.
(Note: Use this information wisely as the college with the highest acceptance rate the year before might not have the highest acceptance rate in your year!) Welfare Good food bad food, big rooms small rooms. By the way, rich colleges tend to give you more grants! Funding Some Colleges have their own college scholarships (see: each college’s website).

Making an open application

If, having looked at the different colleges, you find that you don’t mind which college to attend, then you don’t have to choose – you can make an open application.

• After the closing date (15thOctober 2017), a computer programme allocates each open application to a college.
• The basis of the allocation is to even out the distribution of applicants across the colleges – applicants from the UK/EU are allocated to colleges which happen, in that year, to have received fewer applications per place in that subject than the average number across all colleges; applicants from outside the EU are evenly distributed across colleges in each subject.
• Once allocated to a college your application will be treated in exactly the same way as any other application.
• For equally well-qualified applicants, making an open application or applying directly to a specific college makes no difference to your chances of being made an offer.