Road to University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a collegiate public research university in Cambridge, England. Founded in 1209, Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s third-oldest surviving university. The official founding of Cambridge University is traced to the enhancement, by a charter in 1231 from King Henry III of England and a bull in 1233 from Pope Gregory IX that gave graduates from Cambridge the right to teach “everywhere in Christendom”. After Cambridge was described as a studium generale in a letter by Pope Nicholas IV in 1290 and confirmed as such in a bull by Pope John XXII in 1318, it became common for researchers from other European medieval universities to visit Cambridge to study or to give lecture courses.
After the Cambridge University Act formalised the organizational structure of the University, the study of many new subjects was introduced, such as theology, history and modern languages. Resources necessary for new courses in the arts, architecture and archaeology were generously donated by Richard Fitzwilliam of Trinity College. Between 1896 and 1902, Downing College sold part of its land to build the Downing Site, comprising new scientific laboratories for anatomy, genetics and Earth sciences. During the same period, the New Museums Site was erected, including the Cavendish Laboratory, which has since moved to the West Cambridge Site, and other departments for chemistry and medicine.
In the First World War, 13,878 members of the University served and 2,470 were killed. Teaching, and the fees it earned, came almost to a stop and severe financial difficulties followed. As a consequence the University first received systematic state support in 1919, and a Royal Commission appointed in 1920 recommended that the University should receive an annual grant. Following the Second World War, the University saw a rapid expansion of student numbers and available places; this was partly due to the success and popularity gained by many Cambridge scientists.
The University grew out of an association formed by scholars leaving the University of Oxford after a dispute with townsfolk; the two “ancient universities” have many common features and are often jointly referred to as “Oxbridge”.
The university occupies a central location within the city of Cambridge, with the students taking up a significant proportion (nearly 20%) of the town’s population and heavily distorting the age structure. Most of the older colleges are situated nearby the city centre and river Cam, along which it is traditional to punt to appreciate the buildings and surroundings.
Cambridge is formed from a variety of institutions which include 31 constituent colleges and over 150 academic departments organised into six Schools. The university occupies buildings throughout the town, many of which are of historical importance. The colleges are self-governing institutions founded as integral parts of the university. In the year ended 31 July 2013, the university had a total income of £1.44 billion, of which £332 million was from research grants and contracts. The central university and colleges have a combined endowment of around £4.9 billion, the largest of any university outside the United States. Cambridge is a member of many associations, and forms part of the “golden triangle” of English universities and Cambridge University Health Partners, an academic health science centre. The university is closely linked with the development of the high-tech business cluster known as “Silicon Fen”.
The university is divided into several sites where the different departments are placed. The main ones are Addenbrooke’s, Downing Site, Madingley/Girton, New Museums Site, Old Addenbroke’s, Old Schools, Silver Street/Mill Lane, Sidgwick Site, and West Cambridge. The university’s School of Clinical Medicine is based in Addenbrooke’s Hospital where students in medicine undergo their three-year clinical placement period after obtaining their BA degree, while the West Cambridge site is undergoing a major expansion and will host a new sports development. In addition, the Judge Business School, situated on Trumpington Street, provides management education courses since 1990 and is consistently ranked within the top 20 business schools globally by the Financial Times. Given that the sites are in relative close proximity to each other and the area around Cambridge is reasonably flat, one of the favourite modes of transport for students is the bicycle: a fifth of the journeys in the town is made by bike, a figure enhanced by the fact that pupils are not permitted to hold car park permits, except under special circumstances.
The University Students’ learning involves lectures and laboratory sessions organised by departments, and supervisions provided by the colleges. The university operates eight arts, cultural, and scientific museums, including the Fitzwilliam Museum, and a botanic garden. Cambridge’s libraries hold a total of around 15 million books, 8 million of which are in Cambridge University Library which is a legal deposit library. Cambridge University Press, a department of the university, is the world’s oldest publishing house and the second-largest university press in the world. Cambridge is regularly placed among the world’s best universities in different university rankings. Beside academic studies, student life is centred on the colleges and numerous pan-university artistic activities, sports clubs and societies.
Cambridge is a collegiate university, meaning that it is made up of self-governing and independent colleges, each with its own property and income. Most colleges bring together academics and students from a broad range of disciplines, and within each faculty, school or department within the university, academics from many different colleges will be found. The faculties are responsible for ensuring that lectures are given, arranging seminars, performing research and determining the syllabi for teaching, overseen by the General Board. Together with the central administration headed by the Vice-Chancellor, they make up the entire Cambridge University. Facilities such as libraries are provided on all these levels: by the Cambridge University Library, by the Faculties, and by the individual colleges.
The procedures of the admission in the undergraduate applications to Cambridge must be made through UCAS in time for the early deadline, currently mid-October in the year before starting. Until the 1980s candidates for all subjects were required to sit special entrance examinations, since replaced by additional tests for some subjects, such as the Thinking Skills Assessment and the Cambridge Law Test. The University is considering reintroducing an admissions exam for all subjects with effect from 2016. Most applicants who are called for interview will have been predicted at least three A-grade A-level qualifications relevant to their chosen undergraduate course, or the equivalent in other qualifications, such as getting at least 7,7,6 for higher-level subjects at IB. The A* A-level grade, now plays a part in the acceptance of applications, with the university’s standard offer for all courses being set at A*AA. Due to a very high proportion of applicants receiving the highest school grades, the interview process is crucial for distinguishing between the most able candidates. The interview is performed by College Fellows, who evaluate candidates on unexamined factors such as potential for original thinking and creativity. For exceptional candidates, a Matriculation Offer is sometimes offered, requiring only two A-levels at grade E or above. In 2006, 5,228 students who were rejected went on to get 3 A levels or more at grade A, representing about 63% of all applicants rejected. The acceptance rate for students in the 2012-2013 cycles was 21.9%. Strong applicants who are not successful at their chosen college may be placed in the Winter Pool, where they can be offered places by other colleges. This is in order to maintain consistency throughout the colleges, some of which receive more applicants than others. Graduate admission is first decided by the faculty or department relating to the applicant’s subject. This effectively guarantees admission to a college though not necessarily the applicant’s preferred choice.
Cambridge has many notable alumni, including several eminent mathematicians, scientists, politicians, and 90 Nobel laureates have been affiliated with it. Throughout its history the university has featured heavily in literature and artistic works by various authors.
This University offers a wide range of scholarships for international students and it has a variety of loan and scholarships program available. It is important to make enquiries and apply for resources of funding as early as you can. n
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