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Undergraduate Study


The Colleges of the University of Cambridge aim to offer admission to undergraduate students of the greatest academic potential. They receive many high-quality applications and the number of unsuccessful candidates – even those who appear very strong in their application – is therefore high as well. Colleges carefully use all available information (including formal applications, written assessments, submitted work and/or interviews) to enable them to make admissions decisions focussed on academic ability and potential, and all staff involved in such academic assessments are trained to treat applicants fairly, consistently, and professionally.

Admissions decisions taken by Cambridge Colleges are not normally reviewed unless it appears, after investigation, that a serious procedural error has occurred.

Examples of serious procedural errors include:

  • the conduct of a written assessment or interview was materially inconsistent with published information without due cause and/or without notice and where no remedial action was taken;
  • a failure to follow the agreed policy with respect to placing your application in the intercollegiate pool;
  • a failure to respond to any timely requests you have made to the College in advance for reasonable adjustments as a consequence of your additional support requirements (this does not include decisions taken to offer alternative adjustments to those you may have specifically requested).

Not all procedural errors will meet this criterion: minor or incidental errors may result in your complaint being dismissed without further investigation by the College. It will only include procedural errors where it is clear that the College’s decision not to offer a place might have been different (a) had that error not occurred and (b) where the error had not been addressed or already taken into account by the College at the time or in its decision-making.

If you wish to make a formal complaint about the admissions process, we ask that you put your concerns in writing to the Admissions Tutor/Senior Tutor of the College concerned, normally within one month of becoming aware of the incident. Complaints about the admissions process will be investigated by the Admissions Tutor/Senior Tutor of the College.

An account of the investigation findings and any action to be taken will then be provided in writing by the Admissions Tutor/Senior Tutor. Where it appears, after investigation of the complaint that a serious procedural error has occurred, consideration will be given to what steps (if any) should then be taken.

If you remain dissatisfied with the response of the College, you may ask the Colleges’ Undergraduate Admissions Complaints Panel to review the complaint. The Panel is unable to consider a complaint until it has first been considered by the College concerned. The remit of the Panel is to consider cases where it is claimed that there has been a serious failure of process. It is not within the remit of the Panel to review the academic judgements made by a particular College. The Panel will constrain its consideration to the conduct of the complaint itself, and/or to the question of whether the decision of the College in response to your complaint at that point was reasonable. If you wish your complaint to be reviewed, please forward copies of all correspondence and full details of the specific concern or complaint via email to the Secretary of the Undergraduate Admissions Complaints Panel.

An applicant’s parent or guardian may only initiate a complaint if the email of complaint is accompanied by a signed statement from the applicant authorising the parent or guardian to act on their behalf.