Cambridge is a 'collegiate' university that comprises various faculties and departments and a number of Colleges.
The Colleges are responsible for the admission of undergraduate students. Located across the city, within walking or cycling distance of the city centre and the academic faculties and departments, your College is your base while you're studying at Cambridge. However, your College is much more than a hall of residence, your College is also where you eat and do a lot of your socialising, receive academic and pastoral support, and where you often (though not always) have your supervisions. How much time you spend in your College is up to you. For some students, their College is simply the place where they sleep and usually attend supervisions. For most, though, it provides experiences and friendships that can last a lifetime.
Your home in Cambridge
- The Cambridge Colleges guarantee most students College-owned accommodation for three years, and many provide for fourth-year students too. As such, all single undergraduates are expected to live in College-owned accommodation in Cambridge where possible.
- If you need or want any medical or personal support, the Colleges have a number of staff (such as a College nurse, welfare officer, chaplain or a College-based counsellor) who can offer you advice and help.
- Colleges offer shorter annual accommodation contracts (27-39 weeks), so you don’t pay rent during the vacations unless you choose to stay in Cambridge.
Accommodation guarantee applies to single undergraduates without children, and at all Colleges except St Edmund's. All students must ordinarily be available to study in Cambridge for the full duration of their course (with the exception of a year abroad where part of the course).
The more personal, small-group teaching (supervisions) that the Cambridge Colleges organise (in addition to the University teaching delivered in the academic faculties and departments) is the most distinctive feature of the collegiate system.
Your College also provides library and computing facilities.
- Every College has computers, linked to the University network and available (usually round the clock) for work and email.
- Most student rooms are also linked to the internet and University network if you have your own computer.
- All Colleges have a library which contains standard course texts and other related materials. They also provide a quiet and comfortable place to work.
Entertainment and other facilities
A lot of entertainment (or 'ents') and social activities are organised by the students in each College, such as regular film nights and discos (also known as 'Bops') which are open to members of other Colleges, in addition to everything offered by the clubs and societies. There's usually far more for you to do than can be packed into the short Cambridge terms.
- The Junior Combination Room (JCR) is both the College common room — with TV, newspapers, pool table, bar and which provides the focus for informal socialising and events — and the College’s own students’ union committee.
- Colleges also provide facilities for traditional team games and sports such as tennis and rowing, and many have their own gym and other sports facilities too.
- College music facilities include practice rooms with pianos and perhaps a keyboard, drum kit or a harpsichord, and performance venues. Most Colleges have a choir and orchestra as well as numerous other groups and bands to suit a range of musical tastes and levels of experience.
- College rooms can usually be booked for clubs and societies, meetings and events.