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University of Cambridge


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THE World Ranking: 3



The University of Cambridge is one of the world’s oldest, and best, universities. It was set up in 1209 and has become one of the most prestigious places to study on the planet.


The university is made up of 31 colleges and 150 departments, faculties and schools. Many of the university’s buildings, including the famous King’s College Chapel and two chapels designed by Christopher Wren, have lots of history behind them. Some have stood for more than 800 years.


Cambridge has always been ranked as one of the world’s top 10 universities. In 2022, it was named number two in the world by the QS World University Rankings and number three by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. There are more than 24,000 students here and almost 40 per cent are international students. Getting a place to study here is very competitive; in 2020, over 20,000 people applied for 4,000 undergraduate places.  


Financial support is available for international undergraduates at Cambridge University. The Cambridge Commonwealth and European and International Trust offer awards to international students, as does the university itself.


Cambridge students make up 20 per cent of the town's population and most of the older colleges are close to the city centre. The university has over 100 libraries, which hold more than 15 million books combined.


Support for international students is available at Cambridge University. Free confidential support is offered by the university counselling service to help students cope with school and life worries.


Lots of famous people and respected academics have graduated from Cambridge, including 121 Nobel laureates, 47 Heads of State and 210 Olympic medallists. The graduate employment rate in Cambridge is high, with 81 per cent finding jobs less than a year after they leave university. There is also a huge alumni network, where students can keep in touch with old friends and make new connections as they enter the world of work.


Discover more about the University of Cambridge:


Teaching quality

Entry requirements

Scholarships & funding

University structure


Student support

Graduate outcomes


Teaching quality

The University of Cambridge is known across the globe as one of the world’s best universities. In 2022, Cambridge was named in the Top Five universities for Academic Reputation and Teaching, by the QS World University Rankings and the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.


Many of the academics who teach at Cambridge are world leaders in their subjects. Each course offers lectures, seminars and practical sessions that students from all colleges attend together. Students get plenty of time with their teaching staff.


During term time, students spend around 42-46 hours a week on their studies. Lectures act as a starting point for research and typically last around 50 minutes. Small-group sessions give students the chance to explore subjects in more detail, talk about work and ideas and get regular feedback.


Cambridge has teaching awards, where students can nominate lecturers and tutors.  For example, the Technology-Enabled Learning Prize is awarded by Cambridge University Press. It’s given to staff who have developed their own learning technology solutions to make it even easier for students to learn.  


The university takes part in several surveys including the National Student Survey. The results help the university make its learning experience even better. During their final year, undergraduate students are asked to take part in the National Student Survey. Those in other study years will participate in the Student Barometer survey.


Entry requirements

Entry requirements are different for each course. As Cambridge University is one of the world’s best, you will need to have high grades in the right subjects to have a chance of being accepted.


One of the strengths of the Cambridge admissions system is that all applicants are assessed case by case. However, as so many students apply for places, each person needs to do well in their interview and written assessment to potentially be accepted.


Cambridge University courses involve lots of exams, so taking your secondary exams again may set you back. This is because the university needs to make sure students can handle taking lots of exams at once and get the best results.


English Score Required

All students will need to show they understand a good level of English. They should have passed one of the English language tests listed below in the last two years.


  • IELTS Academic1 – normally a minimum overall grade of 7.5, usually with 7.0 or above in each element.
  • TOEFL Internet-Based Test (IBT) – normally a minimum overall score of 110, with 25 or above in each element.
  • EU students – a high grade in English taken as part of a leaving exam (e.g. the European/French Baccalaureate, Abitur etc.) may be acceptable
  • Cambridge English: C2 Proficiency – accepted with a minimum overall score of 200, with no element lower than 185.
  • Cambridge English: C1 Advanced – accepted with a minimum overall score of 193, with no element lower than 185, plus an assessment by the Language Centre.


If students have not taken any of these tests but are being taught in English, it’s best to speak to the College admissions offices. They will offer advice and tell students which tests they may need to take.



Students need to apply to the University of Cambridge through UCAS, the UK’s university application system. They will choose a course and can also apply to one of the university’s 29 colleges – a place where undergraduate students live, eat and have supervision sessions (a type of lesson).


If a student isn’t sure where they’d like to live, they can make an open application and will live wherever the university chooses. Students can apply before they’ve received their final grades, and the university will make a ‘pre-qualification’ offer. This means the student can’t study at Cambridge unless they get their predicted results.


International applicants will also need to pay a GBP 60 application fee. Once everything has been received, the university will invite students with the right grades to an interview.


Finally, the University of Cambridge asks most students to complete a written assessment as part of their application. This will take be related to their course, and will happen either:



The assessments are designed to help the university assess the student’s writing, language skills, and levels of knowledge, and see how well they understand the course they’re applying for.


There are slightly different requirements for postgraduate students, and for those applying from a different country.


Scholarships & funding

There is financial support for students at Cambridge University. Colleges hand out awards that can help cover the cost of books, travel and living. There are no specific scholarships for international students, but there are other ways to get help.


The Cambridge Commonwealth, European and International Trust offers awards to overseas students who have been given a place at Cambridge College. The Trust website includes additional information.


Some colleges offer financial support for overseas students. Further information can be obtained from College admissions offices.


The International Disabled Students' Fund (IDS Fund) is managed by the Disability Resource Centre. It can help international students with disabilities access financial support.


The Prince Philip Scholarship is for people who permanently live in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and have never studied at Cambridge. The Scholarship offers cash awards and support for tuition fees and maintenance based on your financial situation.


If they think they can get extra help, prospective students must apply for financial support through an online application form before the set deadline. There are different ways to apply for undergraduate study and postgraduate study.


University structure

The university is made up of over 150 departments and has 31 colleges. The University of Cambridge has six ‘schools’, which look after many courses:


  • Arts and Humanities
  • Biological Sciences
  • Clinical Medicine
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Physical Sciences
  • Technology


Students will be part of different colleges and departments. Their university department sets what they learn about and organises group sessions, like lectures, seminars and projects. The department will also organise exams and give students their degree at the end of their studies.


A college is a bit different. It is where students live, with students who are studying lots of different courses. There are places to eat, study and do laundry. Students will have small group sessions known as supervisions in their colleges. It is also where they can get extra support with their well-being or studies.



Cambridge students make up 20 per cent of the town's population, and most of the older colleges are located near the city centre. The sports scene at Cambridge is huge too. There are modern facilities and over 80 sports on offer, with teams for novices and experienced players.  


The main university library has more than eight million books, journals and other documents. Some are hundreds of years old. They can be accessed by students from anywhere in the university.  


The University Information Service is where students can get IT support, including:


  • Wi-Fi across the University and most colleges
  • Free email accounts and file storage
  • Free software, including Microsoft Office and McAfee antivirus protection
  • Free IT training courses
  • A service desk


The Language Centre helps students improve their language skills. The university also runs a conversation exchange scheme with native speakers, and conversation sessions to help students practise speaking in new languages. For international students, Cambridge offers an academic English support programme.


Cambridge Students' Union campaigns on student issues, runs training and workshops and promotes over 700 clubs and societies across the university. It also helps with student well-being through things like a sexual health scheme and advice service.


Cambridge has nine specialist museums and collections that are open to students and the public. There are exhibits on everything from dinosaurs to modern art, and rock samples to Rembrandt.


There are places to worship around Cambridge for those following the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh faiths. Many colleges have chapels and designated spaces for prayer and reflection for students.



The Accommodation Service helps students find places to live in Cambridge. Most undergraduate students will get to live in a college-owned property for three years.


All accommodation is within easy walking or cycling distance of the university. Full-time postgraduate students may also live on college property, but they can choose to find their own place in Cambridge. Self-catered accommodation ranges in price from GBP 120 to GBP 220 per week. Homes are available to rent through the Accommodation Service.


Student support

International students get lots of support at Cambridge University. Each student will have a small-group supervision session with a subject specialist once or twice a week. Students take prepared work for discussion and it’s a great way to get extra study support. The learning support team offer lots of online and skills-based courses and guides on a range of topics.


All students should register with a GP as soon as they arrive at the university. Most colleges also have an on-site nurse who can help with minor illnesses, injuries and more.


Wellbeing and mental health support

Free confidential support is offered by the university’s counselling service and there are some college-based counselling services. There are workshops covering themes from stress to time management, and short courses on specific topics offer group support to students.


The counselling service’s website has lots of self-help resources, along with ways to get other support. Mental health and well-being are taken very seriously at the University of Cambridge, as studying here can be tough.


Disability support

Cambridge’s Disability Resource Centre (DRC) helps students with disabilities, long-term health conditions and additional needs. It helps students get the adjustments, resources and extra equipment they need to do well.  


The university has created a new Student Services Centre. Approximately 250 staff members support students here.


Graduate outcomes

The graduate employment rate at Cambridge is high and studying at one of the world’s best universities gives every graduate an advantage.


All students can sign up for Handshake to make the most of the Careers Service. Students and graduates can use it to explore career options in the UK and abroad. They can also book appointments, find jobs and internships, and connect with employers.


The team of careers advisers at the university’s careers service help students from arrival to graduation. An annual careers guide helps students make the most of the service. And with regular career fairs, students get many opportunities to connect with companies.


Students can receive one-to-one consultations, a free guide on drafting CVs and job applications. They can also take part in practice interviews, and workshops on topics from cover letters to interviews and sessions on particular employers and sectors.


The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP) gives students an idea of what research at the university is like through summer internships.


Several courses give students the chance to study abroad on exchange programmes or to go on field trips or study visits. Students can also develop their skills through speaking engagements with the university’s Public Engagement office.


Volunteering is a great way for international students to make their CVs stand out from the crowd. Many local volunteering opportunities can be found via Student Community Action, in projects, as homework helpers and more.



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Key facts and figures at University of Cambridge


Hotcourses Diversity Index (What is this?)

Source: HESA

137 International student nationalities at this university

Source: HESA

9.54% International students from USA

Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023
Source: THE


QS World University Rankings 2024
Source: QS


Academic Ranking of World Universities 2022
Source: ARWU


Student life in numbers










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image Anonymous, Mauritius

Greatest time of my life

It's a great uni! Definitely apply

It's a great uni! Definitely apply

image Anonymous, Germany

Cambridge MPhil

Be prepared to work - a lot.

Be prepared to work - a lot.

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