Why Study at Cambridge?

The University of Cambridge is one of the oldest universities in the world. Located in Cambridgeshire, England, Cambridge is considered one of the best universities in the UK by many national league tables, and offers both undergraduate and postgraduate students access to first-class researchers, facilities, and educational resources.

There are many reasons why students choose to study at Cambridge. This guide rounds up five of the top reasons you should consider Cambridge when making your university choices.

1. Academic reputation

Cambridge is one of the most well-known and academically prestigious universities. It is also one of the world’s oldest universities and the second oldest in the UK. Since its founding over 800 years ago, Cambridge has built an esteemed academic reputation and now houses top researchers in a wide range of fields.

League table rankings

Cambridge is one of the most consistently high-ranking universities in the world, regularly coming in second or third across a range of global and national league tables. It is currently ranked:

Research excellence

As well as ranking highly in league tables, Cambridge is also one of the world’s top research universities and is famous for its research excellence and innovation. Its research was ranked third in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023 and 93% of its research was rated as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ in the latest Research Excellence Framework (2021). It was also ranked first for overall quality of research in the disciplines of Clinical Medicine, Earth Sciences, Architecture, and Business.

2. Range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses

Cambridge offers a wide range of courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Some of its courses are offered by only a handful of institutions or, in some cases, exclusively at Cambridge. These include HSPS (Human, Social and Political Sciences) and its undergraduate Engineering course, which covers all the major engineering disciplines under one programme.

Undergraduate

Cambridge offers more than 30 different courses at undergraduate level covering a huge range of disciplines and subject combinations. Its entry requirements typically range from A*A*A-A*AA at A level (equivalent qualifications are also accepted), depending on the course. Each of its courses is tailored to provide the most up to date and globally relevant knowledge delivered by top academics in the field.

See Cambridge’s full list of undergraduate courses on its website.

Top tip: If you’re trying to decide whether to apply for Cambridge or Oxford, there are a number of factors to consider. For example, looking at the entry requirements for your chosen course can help you to decide where is best suited to you based on your predicted A level grades (or equivalent) and unique skill set. Cambridge typically sets its entry requirements one grade higher than Oxford’s (usually A*AA versus AAA), however it interviews a significantly higher percentage of applicants (75% versus Oxford’s 45%), so if you are predicted an A* and can perform well in interviews then Cambridge may be a good choice for you. For more tips on choosing between Oxford and Cambridge, watch our helpful YouTube video or read our guide to choosing a course based on statistics.

Postgraduate

Cambridge’s graduate school is a large, thriving community of researchers and postgraduate students. There are around 11,330 graduate students at Cambridge who form just under half of the university’s overall student population. Its course offering is just as vast, with more than 300 different Master’s and Doctoral level programmes in subjects ranging from American History to Plant Sciences.

See Cambridge’s full list of graduate courses and their entry requirements on its website.

3. Top facilities

Cambridge’s undergraduate and postgraduate students have access to the very best resources and facilities. These include:

  • Cutting-edge experimental laboratories, including The Cavendish Laboratory, a centre at the forefront of discovery in Physics since its foundation in 1874;
  • A thriving Language Centre which provides opportunities to all students wishing to take up or continue a language;
  • Over 100 libraries, including the main University Library (UL), a legal deposit library holding more than 8 million books, journals and documents;
  • World-famous museums and collections, including the Fitzwilliam Museum, the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, the Polar Museum, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, and Cambridge University Botanic Garden.

4. Student life

Cambridge University is located in the city of Cambridge, where its colleges and buildings are spread across the city centre. The city offers a unique mix of historic architecture and modern facilities, as well as plenty of places for students to study, relax, and socialise. Cambridge is also around an hour away from London by train, making it an extremely convenient and well-connected place to live as a student.

Within Cambridge University itself, there are also countless ways to make the most of your time as a student and enjoy your free time. The university has close to 1,000 student-run clubs and societies, opportunities to partake in campaigning and volunteering, and its own independent newspaper, Varsity. Whatever your interests, talents and career goals, there will almost certainly be opportunities to pursue them at Cambridge.

Cambridge also has one of the lowest drop-out rates of any university in the UK. According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, only 0.6% of Cambridge students dropped out in the 2019/20 academic year, compared to the UK average of 5.3%. This suggests that students are satisfied with multiple aspects of their university experience, including their life outside of studying.

Financial support

Students at Cambridge are not permitted to work alongside studying; due to this policy, Cambridge University offers an extensive programme of financial support for undergraduate students. For example, The Cambridge Bursary Scheme offers UK students non-repayable bursaries to help with living costs. These are offered in addition to any government financial support. There is also a range of financial support available at postgraduate level, such as Hardship Funding, which provides awards of up to £2,000 to assist postgraduate students with living costs.

5. Work opportunities and job prospects

Thanks to its outstanding reputation, Cambridge is one of the most well-known and respected universities in the world amongst employers. In 2021-22, Cambridge was the seventh most targeted university by top employers (High Fliers Research), and the university has links to a range of top organisations and industries both in the UK and globally.
As a result of this reputation among employers and the skills and links built while at Cambridge, 93% of Cambridge leavers are employed or in further study 15 months after graduating.

Cambridge also produces some of the best-paid graduates in the UK. Cambridge graduates earn an average of £34,511 within five years of leaving university – 44% more than the average UK graduate salary of £24,000.

How to get into Cambridge

There are many reasons to study at the University of Cambridge, and that’s why thousands of top students aspire to apply there. However, knowing you want to apply is just the first step; knowing how to meet the entry requirements and write a stand-out application is the most important part.

That’s where The Profs can help. Our network of expert Oxbridge admissions tutors can provide you with tailored support on how to maximise your chances of receiving an offer for your chosen Cambridge course. In fact, 55% of Oxbridge applicants who work with us receive an offer, which is more than three times the average Oxbridge acceptance rate of 15%.

To read more about how to get into Cambridge and learn top tips from The Profs’ application experts, read our helpful Cambridge application guide. To talk to a member of our team and access the support of one of our highly qualified tutors, complete the contact form at the bottom of this page.

FAQs

Where is Cambridge University?

Cambridge University is located in the city of Cambridge. Its colleges and buildings are spread across Cambridge city centre, with Girton College being the farthest from the centre, but still only 30 minutes away from Cambridge rail station by bus. Cambridge sits in the county of Cambridgeshire, East Anglia, and is just over an hour away from London by train.

How old is Cambridge University?

The University of Cambridge was founded in 1209. Its first college, Peterhouse, was founded 75 years later in 1284. Cambridge is one of the world’s oldest universities and is the second oldest in the English-speaking world; Oxford precedes it by just over a century, being founded around 1096.

How much is Cambridge University?

Tuition fees for undergraduate courses for UK students are £9,250 per year at Cambridge. Undergraduate tuition fees for international students range from £24,507 to £63,990 per year depending on the course. Students should also consider other costs associated with studying at university, including accommodation, transport, food and other personal costs. Cambridge estimates that students should allow approximately £11,020 per year for living costs.

How do I apply to Cambridge University?

To apply to an undergraduate course at Cambridge University, you’ll first need to submit an application via UCAS. This includes submitting your grades (and ensuring they meet Cambridge’s entry requirements), writing your personal statement, and submitting referees who can write references for you. You will likely also need to complete an admissions test and attend an interview, the exact details of which will depend on your chosen course. Read our guide to the Oxbridge application process for more information on each of these stages.

Does Cambridge give contextual offers?

Cambridge University does not offer systematic contextual offers, unlike some other universities such as UCL and LSE. However, Cambridge does use contextual data to provide academic assessors with the fullest possible picture of an applicant and the context in which their achievements occurred.

Can I transfer to Cambridge from another university?

Cambridge may in exceptional circumstances consider accepting transfer students from other universities. You will need to have completed your first year of study at another university and achieved top grades (ideally a first-class classification in all modules) to be considered for a transfer. If you are accepted as a transfer student, you will be expected to resit your first year at Cambridge (i.e. you will not be allowed to enter into the second year of a Cambridge course). Some courses/colleges will not accept transfer students and transfers in general are incredibly rare, so bear this in mind if you are considering applying for a transfer.

Can you visit Cambridge University for free?

You can visit many colleges and museums at the University of Cambridge during their opening hours for free. Some colleges and museums charge visitors a small entry fee, ranging from £1 to £7.50 per adult.

Is Oxford University older than Cambridge?

Oxford University is just over a century older than Cambridge University. Oxford was founded around 1096 while Cambridge was founded in 1209. Both universities have a long history of providing quality education and producing world-leading research.