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The principal aim of the Admissions Policy of the Colleges of the University of Cambridge is to offer admission to students of the highest intellectual potential, irrespective of social, racial, religious and financial considerations.

Two further aims are:

  • aspiration – to encourage applications from groups that are, at present, under-represented in Cambridge
  • fairness – to ensure that each applicant is individually assessed, without partiality or bias, in accordance with the policy on Equal Opportunities, and to ensure that, as far as possible, an applicant’s chance of admission to Cambridge does not depend on choice of College

Once students are admitted, we ensure that they’re given the academic, personal and, where appropriate, financial1 support necessary for successful completion of their course at Cambridge.

Our widening participation strategy within the UK has for a number of years focussed on trying to ensure that students with the ability to succeed at Cambridge aren’t deterred from applying by any misconceptions that may surround the University. Other activities within our diverse and extensive portfolio of outreach projects seek to introduce students to the range of degree courses we offer and to support and enrich the study of subjects at school/college.

Once students have applied then the principle detailed above takes absolute precedence. We won’t introduce quotas for people from specific backgrounds as we feel very strongly that applicants should be admitted on academic merit and potential to succeed in their chosen course.

Detailed selection criteria vary from course to course but in all we’re looking for:

  • academic ability and potential
  • motivation and suitability for the chosen course
  • commitment and self-discipline

Every applicant is considered individually in an holistic assessment using all the information available to us:

  • their academic record, including GCSE and AS (or equivalent) grades and marks and A level (or equivalent) grades or predictions, this record being considered in the context of the quality (but not type) of schools/colleges at which it was achieved
  • the school/college reference
  • the personal statement
  • submitted work, where requested
  • performance in any written assessment
  • contextual data
  • performance at interview, if interviewed

Ultimately, all admissions decisions are based on academic criteria – ability and potential – and excellence in an extra-curricular activity will never ‘compensate’ for lower academic potential.

In each subject we have moderation procedures that enable Colleges to compare the quality of their own applicants with those to other Colleges before deciding who’ll receive an offer, and our pool system provides the opportunity for applicants squeezed out by the competition at one College to receive an offer from another.

To try to ensure that all applicants and their advisers have access to up-to-date and factually correct information, we provide exhaustive information about all aspects of our admissions procedures through our extensive range of publications and our website.

The University of Cambridge has signed the UUK Fair Admissions Code of Practice

1 Please note that financial considerations and support apply only to Home fee status students. Fees are higher for international students, and such students must be able to demonstrate in advance that they can finance themselves for their entire course without needing to undertake paid work.