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The University of Cambridge (informally Cambridge University, or simply Cambridge), located in the City of Cambridgemarker, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdommarker, is the second oldest university in the English-speaking world and the fourth oldest in Europe. The name is sometimes abbreviated as Cantab. in post-nominals, a shortened form of Cantabrigiensis (an adjective derived from Cantabrigia, the Latinised form of Cambridgemarker).

The university grew out of an association of scholars in the city of Cambridge that was formed, early records suggest, in 1209 by scholars leaving Oxfordmarker after a dispute with townsfolk there. The universities of Oxfordmarker and Cambridge are often jointly referred to as "Oxbridge". In addition to cultural and practical associations as a historic part of British society, the two universities also have a long history of rivalry with each other.

Academically, Cambridge is consistently ranked in the world's top five universities and as a premier leading university in Europe by numerous media and academic rankings. The University's alumni include 85 Nobel Laureates .

Organisation

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 (though certain colleges do have particular strengths e.g. Gonville and Caius Collegemarker for Medicine), 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 University (the Cambridge University Librarymarker), by the departments (departmental libraries such as the Squire Law Library), and by the individual colleges (all of which maintain a multi-discipline library, generally aimed mainly at their undergraduates).

Colleges



All students and many of the academics are attached to colleges, where they socialise. It is also the place where students may receive their small group teaching sessions, known as supervisions. Each college appoints its own teaching staff and fellows in each subject; decides which students to admit, in accordance with university regulations; provides small group teaching sessions, for undergraduates (though lectures are arranged and degrees are awarded by the university); and is responsible for the domestic arrangements and welfare of its own undergraduates, graduates, post-doctoral researchers, and staff in general.

The University of Cambridge currently has 31 colleges, of which three, Murray Edwardsmarker, Newnhammarker and Lucy Cavendishmarker, admit only women. The other colleges are now mixed, though most were originally all-male. Darwinmarker was the first college to admit both men and women, while Churchillmarker, Claremarker and King'smarker colleges were the first previously all-male colleges to admit female undergraduates in 1972. Magdalenemarker was the last all-male college to become mixed in 1988. Clare Hallmarker and Darwinmarker admit only postgraduates, and Hughes Hallmarker, Lucy Cavendishmarker, St Edmund’smarker and Wolfsonmarker admit only mature (i.e. 21 years or older on date of matriculation) and graduate students. All other colleges admit both undergraduate and postgraduate students with no age restrictions. Colleges are not required to admit students in all subjects, with some colleges choosing not to offer subjects such as architecture, history of art or theology, but most offer close to the complete range. Some colleges maintain a bias towards certain subjects, for example with Churchillmarker leaning towards the sciences and engineering, while others such as St Catharine'smarker aim for a balanced intake. Costs to students (accommodation and food prices) vary considerably from college to college. Others maintain much more informal reputations, such as for the students of King's College to hold left-wing political views, or Robinson College and Churchill College's attempts to minimise its environmental impact.

There are also several theological colleges in Cambridge, including Westminster Collegemarker and Ridley Hall Theological Collegemarker, that are loosely affiliated with the university through the Cambridge Theological Federation.

Schools, faculties and departments

Department of Engineering at Cambridge University
In addition to the 31 colleges, the university is made up of over 150 departments, faculties, schools, syndicates and other institutions. Members of these are usually also members of one or more of the colleges and responsibility for running the entire academic programme of the university is divided amongst them.

A 'school' in the University of Cambridge is a broad administrative grouping of related subjects, each covering a specified group of faculties. Each has an elected supervisory body — The Council of the School — comprising representatives of the constituent faculties and departments in each school. There are six schools:

Teaching and research in Cambridge is organised by Faculties. The Faculties have different organisational sub-structures which partly reflect their history and partly their operational needs, which may include a number of Departments and other institutions. In addition, a small number of bodies entitled Syndicates have responsibilities for teaching and research, exercising powers similar in effect to those of Faculty Boards. Examples are Cambridge Assessment, the University Press, and the University Librarymarker.

Central administration

Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor

The current Chancellor of the University is the Duke of Edinburgh. The current Vice-Chancellor is Alison Richard. The office of Chancellor, which is held for life, is mainly ceremonial, while the Vice-Chancellor is de facto the principal academic and administrative officer. The University's internal governance is carried out almost entirely by its own members, with very little external representation on its governing body, the Regent House (though there is external representation on the Audit Committee, and there are four external members on the University's Councilmarker, who are the only external members of the Regent House).

Senate and the Regent House

The Senate consists of all holders of the MA degree or higher degrees. It elects the Chancellor and the High Steward, and it elected Members to the House of Commonsmarker for the Cambridge University constituency until their abolition in 1950, but otherwise it has not had a major role since 1926, before which it fulfilled all the functions which the Regent House fulfils today, and was the University's governing body, just as the Regent House is today.

The Regent House is the University's governing body, a direct democracy comprising all resident senior members of the University and the Colleges, together with the Chancellor, the High Steward, the Deputy High Steward, and the Commissary.

Council and the General Board

Although the University Councilmarker is the principal executive and policy-making body of the University, therefore, it must report and be accountable to the Regent House through a variety of checks and balances. It has the right of reporting to the University, and is obliged to advise the Regent House on matters of general concern to the University. It does both of these by causing notices to be published by authority in the Cambridge University Reporter, the official journal of the University. Since January 2005, the membership of the Council has included two external members, and the Regent House voted for an increase from two to four in the number of external members in March 2008, and this was approved by Her Majesty the Queen in July 2008.

The General Board of the Faculties is responsible for the academic and educational policy of the University, and is accountable to the Council for its management of these affairs.

Faculty Boards are responsible to the General Board; other Boards and Syndicates are responsible either to the General Board (if primarily for academic purposes) or to the Council. In this way, the various arms of the University are kept under the supervision of the central administration, and thus the Regent House.

Finances

In late 2006, the total financial endowment of the university and the colleges was estimated at £4.1 billion (US$8.2 billion): £1.2 billion tied directly to the university, £2.9 billion to the colleges. Oxford (including its colleges) is possibly ranked second, having reported an endowment valued at £3.9bn in mid-2006. Each college is an independent charitable institution with its own endowment, separate from that of the central university endowment.

If ranked on a US university endowment table using figures reported in 2006, Cambridge would rank sixth or seventh (depending on whether one includes the University of Texas System – which incorporates nine full scale universities and six health institutions), or fourth in a ranking compared with only the eight Ivy League institutions.

Comparisons between Cambridge's endowment and those of other top US universities are, however, inaccurate because being a state-funded public university, Cambridge receives a major portion of its income through education and research grants from the British Government. In 2006, it was reported that approximately one third of Cambridge’s income comes from UK government funding for teaching and research, with another third coming from other research grants. Endowment income contributes around 6%.

Benefactions and fundraising

In 2000, Bill Gates of Microsoft donated US$210 million through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to endow the Gates Scholarships for students from outside the UK seeking postgraduate study at Cambridge. The University of Cambridge Computer Laboratorymarker, which taught the world’s first computing course in 1953, is housed in a building partly funded by Gates and named after his father, William Gates.

In 2005, the Cambridge 800th Anniversary Campaign was launched, aimed at raising £1 billion by 2012—the first US-style university fund-raising campaign in Europe. £800 million of funds have been secured to date.

University activities



Research

Cambridge University has research departments and teaching faculties in most academic disciplines. All research and lectures are conducted by University Departments. The colleges are in charge of giving or arranging most supervisions, student accommodation, and funding most extracurricular activities. During the 1990s Cambridge added a substantial number of new specialist research laboratories on several University sites around the city, and major expansion continues on a number of sites.

Cambridge is a member of the Russell Group, a network of research-led British universities; the Coimbra Group, an association of leading European universities; the League of European Research Universities; and the International Alliance of Research Universities. It is also considered part of the "Golden Triangle", a geographical concentration of UK university research.

Building on its reputation for enterprise, science and technology, Cambridge has a partnership with MITmarker in the United States, the Cambridge – MIT Institute.

Teaching

The principal method of teaching at Cambridge colleges is the supervision. These are typically weekly hour-long sessions in which small groups of students — usually between one and three — meet with a member of the university's teaching staff or a doctoral student. Students are normally required to complete an essay or assignment in advance of the supervision, which they will discuss with the supervisor during the session, along with any concerns or difficulties they have had with the material presented in that week's lectures. Lectures at Cambridge are often described as being almost a mere 'bolt-on' to these supervisions. Students typically receive two or three supervisions per week. This pedagogical system is often cited as being unique to Cambridge and Oxfordmarker (where “supervisions” are known as “tutorials”)

The concept of grading students' work quantitatively was developed by a tutor named William Farish at the University of Cambridge in 1792.

Admissions

The application system to Cambridge and Oxfordmarker often involves additional requirements, with candidates typically called to face-to-face interviews.

How applicants perform in the interview process is an important factor in determining which students are accepted. Most applicants are expected to be predicted at least three A-grade A-level qualifications relevant to their chosen undergraduate course, or equivalent overseas qualifications. However, it has been confirmed that the new A* A-level grade (to be introduced in 2010) will play a part in the acceptance of applications. 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. 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 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 — Christ's Collegemarker is unusual in making this offer to about one-third of successful candidates, in order to relieve very able candidates of some pressure in their final 'A level' year (or equivalent), although this is now quite uncommon.

In recent years, admissions tutors in certain subjects have required applicants to sit the more difficult STEP papers, tuition for which is not normally provided by British schools outside the private or independent sector, in addition to achieving top grades in their A-levels or International Baccalaureate diplomas. For example, almost every college requires 1,2, and a significant number requiring 1,1, or better in the 2 STEP Papers as well as A grades at A-levels including A-level Mathematics and Further Mathematics in order to be considered for entry for the Mathematical Tripos. Between one-half and two-thirds of those who apply with the required grades are given offers of a place.

Public debate in the United Kingdom continues over whether admissions processes at Oxford and Cambridge are entirely merit based and fair; whether enough students from state schools are encouraged to apply to Cambridge; and whether these students succeed in gaining entry. In 2007-08, 57% of all successful applicants were from state schools. However, the average qualifications for successful applicants from state schools are slightly lower than the average qualification of successful applicants from private schools. Critics have argued that the lack of state school applicants with the required grades applying to Cambridge and Oxford has had a negative impact on Oxbridge’s reputation for many years, and the University has encouraged pupils from state schools to apply for Cambridge to help redress the imbalance. Others counter that government pressure to increase state school admissions constitutes inappropriate social engineering. The proportion of undergraduates drawn from independent schools has dropped over the years, and such applicants now form only a significant minority (43%) of the intake. In 2005, 32% of the 3599 applicants from independent schools were admitted to Cambridge, as opposed to 24% of the 6674 applications from state schools. In 2008 the University of Cambridge received a gift of £4m to improve its accessibility to candidates from maintained schools. Cambridge, together with Oxfordmarker and Durhammarker, is among those universities that have adopted formulae that gives a rating to the GCSE performance of every school in the country to “weight” the scores of university applicants.

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.

The Cambridge Summer Schools

Cambridge University hosts various summer schools for students aged 16 all around Britain.This is a chance for many high academic achievers with ambitions above the norm to experience ultimately the Cambridge Lifestyle. Also they aim to understand the high expectations and standards upheld by the university. An example of one of the summer schools hosted by Cambridge University is the Business Summer School. This is funded by Clifford Chance, and targets those students with sincere interest in business, to give them a deeper perception of the Business World. They teach and enable students to understand business from many perspectives. Another example of a summer school is that for ethnic minorities. This is known as the GEEMA summer school. This particular summer school aims to provide a broadened view of what opportunities are available to students at Cambridge. Essentially these summer schools hosted by the university are built to inspire and raise aspirations of those who attend.

Publishing

The University’s publishing arm, the Cambridge University Press, is the oldest printer and publisher in the world.

Public examinations

The university set up its Local Examination Syndicate in 1858. Today, the syndicate, which is known as Cambridge Assessment, is Europe’s largest assessment agency and it plays a leading role in researching, developing and delivering assessments across the globe.

Sport and other extracurricular activities

Cambridge maintains a long tradition of student participation in sport and recreation. Rowing is a particularly popular sport at Cambridge, and there are competitions between colleges, notably the bumps races, and against Oxford, the Boat Race. There are also Varsity matches against Oxford in many other sports, ranging from cricket and rugby, to chess and tiddlywinks. Athletes representing the university in certain sports entitle them to apply for a Cambridge Blue at the discretion of the Blues Committee, consisting of the captains of the thirteen most prestigious sports. There is also the self-described “unashamedly elite” Hawks’ Club, which is for men only, whose membership is usually restricted to Cambridge Full Blues and Half Blues.

The Cambridge Unionmarker serves as a focus for debating. Drama societies notably include the Amateur Dramatic Club and the comedy club Footlights, which are known for producing well-known showbusiness personalities. Student newspapers include the long-established Varsity and its younger rival, The Cambridge Student. The student-run radio station, CUR1350, promotes broadcast journalism.

The Cambridge University Chamber Orchestra explores a range of programmes, from popular symphonies to lesser known works. Membership of the orchestra is composed of students of the university and it has also attracted a variety of conductors and soloists, including Wayne Marshall, Jane Glover, and Nicholas Cleobury.

History

Roger of Wendover wrote shortly after its foundation that the University of Cambridge could trace its origins to a crime committed in 1209. Although not always a reliable source, the detail given in his contemporaneous writings lends them credence.

Two Oxford scholars were convicted of the murder or manslaughter of a woman and were hanged by the town authorities with the assent of the King. In protest at the hanging, the University of Oxfordmarker went into voluntary suspension, and scholars migrated to a number of other locations, including the pre-existing school at Cambridge (Cambridge had been recorded as a “school” rather than as a university when John Grim held the office of Master there in 1201). These exile Oxford scholars (post-graduate researchers by present day terminology) started Cambridge’s life as a university in 1209.

Cambridge’s status was enhanced by a charter in 1231 from King Henry III of England which awarded the ius non trahi extra (a right to discipline its own members) plus some exemption from taxes, 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 come and visit Cambridge to study or to give lecture courses.

Foundation of the colleges

Cambridge’s colleges were originally an incidental feature of the system. No college is as old as the university itself. The colleges were endowed fellowships of scholars. There were also institutions without endowments, called hostels. The hostels were gradually absorbed by the colleges over the centuries, but they have left some indicators of their time, such as the name of Garret Hostel Lane.

Hugh Balsham, Bishop of Ely, founded Peterhousemarker in 1284, Cambridge’s first college. Many colleges were founded during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, but colleges continued to be established throughout the centuries to modern times, although there was a gap of 204 years between the founding of Sidney Sussexmarker in 1596 and Downingmarker in 1800. The most recent college established is Robinsonmarker, built in the late 1970s. However, Hughes Hallmarker only achieved full university college status in April 2007, making it the newest full college.

In medieval times, colleges were founded so that their students would pray for the souls of the founders. For that reason they were often associated with chapels or abbeys. A change in the colleges’ focus occurred in 1536 with the Dissolution of the Monasteries. King Henry VIII ordered the university to disband its Faculty of Canon Law and to stop teaching “scholastic philosophy”. In response, colleges changed their curricula away from canon law and towards the classics, the Bible, and mathematics.

Mathematics

From the time of Isaac Newton in the later 17th century until the mid-19th century, the university maintained a strong emphasis on mathematics. Study of this subject was compulsory for graduation, and students were required to take an exam for the Bachelor of Arts degree, the main first degree at Cambridge in both arts and science subjects. This exam is known as a Tripos.

Students awarded first-class honours after completing the mathematics Tripos were named wranglers. The Cambridge Mathematical Tripos was competitive and helped produce some of the most famous names in British science, including James Clerk Maxwell, Lord Kelvin, and Lord Rayleigh. However, some famous students, such as G. H. Hardy, disliked the system, feeling that people were too interested in accumulating marks in exams and not interested in the subject itself.

Although diversified in its research and teaching interests, Cambridge today maintains its strength in mathematics. The Isaac Newton Institutemarker, part of the university, is widely regarded as the UK’s national research institute for mathematics and theoretical physics. Cambridge alumni have won eight Fields Medals and one Abel Prize for mathematics. The University also runs a special Certificate of Advanced Studies in Mathematics course.



Contributions to the advancement of science

Many of the most important scientific discoveries and revolutions were made by Cambridge alumni. These include:

Women’s education

Initially, only male students were enrolled into the university. The first colleges for women were Girton Collegemarker (founded by Emily Davies) in 1869 and Newnham Collegemarker in 1872 (founded by Anne Clough and Henry Sidgwick) followed by New Hallmarker in 1954. The first women students were examined in 1882 but attempts to make women full members of the university did not succeed until 1947. Although Cambridge did not give degrees to women until this date women were in fact allowed to study courses, sit examinations, and have their results recorded from the nineteenth century onwards; for a brief period after the turn of the twentieth century, this allowed women to receive ad eundem degrees from the University of Dublinmarker (see steamboat ladies). Later, women could be given a “titular degree”; although they were not denied recognised qualifications, without a full degree they were excluded from the governing of the university. Since students must belong to a college, and since established colleges remained closed to women, women found admissions restricted to colleges established only for women. Starting with Churchill College, all of the men’s colleges began to admit women between 1972 and 1988. One women’s college, Girton, also began to admit male students from 1979, but the other women’s colleges did not follow suit. As a result of St Hilda's College, Oxfordmarker ending its ban on male students in 2008, Cambridge is now the only remaining United Kingdom University with colleges which refuse to admit males, with three such institutions in total. In the academic year 2004–5, the university’s student gender ratio, including post-graduates, was male 52%: female 48%.

Myths, legends and traditions



As an institution with such a long history, the University has developed a large number of myths and legends. The vast majority of these are untrue, but have been propagated nonetheless by generations of students and tour guides.

A discontinued tradition is that of the wooden spoon, the ‘prize’ awarded to the student with the lowest passing grade in the final examinations of the Mathematical Tripos. The last of these spoons was awarded in 1909 to Cuthbert Lempriere Holthouse, an oarsman of the Lady Margaret Boat Club of St John’s Collegemarker. It was over one metre in length and had an oar blade for a handle. It can now be seen outside the Senior Combination Room of St John's. Since 1909, results were published alphabetically within class rather than score order. This made it harder to ascertain who the winner of the spoon was (unless there was only one person in the third class), and so the practice was abandoned.

On the other hand, the legend of the Austin 7 delivery van that ended up on the apex of the Senate House is no myth at all. The Caius Collegemarker website recounts in detail how this vehicle “went up in the world”.

Each Christmas Eve, BBC radio and television broadcasts The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols by the Choir of King's College, Cambridge. The radio broadcast has been a national Christmas tradition since it was first transmitted in 1928 (though the festival has existed since 1918). The radio broadcast is carried worldwide by the BBC World Service and is also syndicated to hundreds of radio stations in the USA. The first television broadcast of the festival was in 1954.

Great Court of King's College.


Reputation



Historically, Cambridge University has had a strong reputation for both mathematics and the sciences.

According to UCAS, Cambridge and Oxford are the most academically selective universities in the United Kingdom – there is a special national admissions process which sets Oxbridge apart from other British universities. Traditionally, Cambridge applicants have had to fill the Cambridge Application Form (CAF) in addition to the UCAS process, although this ended for entry in 2009, being replaced with a more standard supplementary information form (completed online), as is common with some other universities in the UK.

In the last two British Government Research Assessment Exercise in 2001 and 2008 respectively, Cambridge was ranked first in the country. In 2005, it was reported that Cambridge produces more PhDs per year than any other British university (over 30% more than second placed Oxford). In 2006, a Thomson Scientific study showed that Cambridge has the highest research paper output of any British university, and is also the top research producer (as assessed by total paper citation count) in 10 out of 21 major British research fields analysed. Another study published the same year by Evidence showed that Cambridge won a larger proportion (6.6%) of total British research grants and contracts than any other university (coming first in three out of four broad discipline fields).

The university is also closely linked with the development of the high-tech business cluster in and around Cambridge, which forms the area known as Silicon Fen or sometimes the “Cambridge Phenomenon”. In 2004, it was reported that Silicon Fen was the second largest venture capital market in the world, after Silicon Valleymarker. Estimates reported in February 2006 suggest that there were about 250 active startup companies directly linked with the university, worth around US$6 billion.

League tables of British universities



In the 2009 Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings, Cambridge was ranked 2nd amongst world universities, behind Harvardmarker. It came in first in the international academic reputation peer review, first in the natural sciences, first in biomedicine, first in the arts & humanities, fourth in the social sciences, and sixth in technology. In the 2008 Academic Ranking of World Universities compiled by Shanghai Jiao Tong Universitymarker, Cambridge was placed 4th amongst world universities. A 2006 Newsweek ranking which combined elements of the THES-QS and ARWU rankings with other factors that purportedly evaluated an institution's global "openness and diversity" suggested that Cambridge was ranked 6th in the world overall.

In the 2008 Sunday Times University Guide, Cambridge was ranked first for the 11th straight year since the guide's first publication in 1998. In the 2008 Times Good University Guide, Cambridge topped 37 of the guide's 61 subject tables, including Law, Medicine, Economics, Mathematics, Engineering, Physics, and Chemistry and has the best record on research, entry standards and graduate destinations amongst UK universities. Cambridge was also awarded the University of the Year award.

In the 2009 The Times Good University Guide Subject Rankings, Cambridge was ranked top (or joint top) in 34 out of the 42 subjects which it offers. The overall ranking placed Cambridge in 2nd behind Oxford. The 2009 Guardian University Guide Rankings also placed Cambridge 2nd in the UK behind Oxford.

Notable alumni

Cambridge University has over the course of its history built up a sizeable number of alumni who are notable in their fields, both academic, and in the wider world. Officially, affiliates of Cambridge University have won a total of 84 Nobel Prizes, more than any other university according to some counts, as well as eight Fields Medals.

In addition to a long and distinguished tradition in mathematics and the sciences, Cambridge University has educated:

Literature and popular culture



See also



Notes

  1. Statute and Ordinances, Historical Note: "The University is ... consisting of a Chancellor, Masters and Scholars who from time out of mind have had the government of their members"
  2. Grace 2 of 5 December 2007
  3. Statutes and Ordinances, 2007-2008
  4. Grace 2 of 5 December 2008
  5. Acta in the Reporter, No 6107, publishing Results of Ballot
  6. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article6350374.ece
  7. {{cite web|url=http://www.topuniversities.com/world-university-rankings|title=THE-QS World University Rankings 2009 Results


References

  • A history of the University of Cambridge, by Christopher N.L. Brooke, Cambridge University Press, 4 volumes, 1988–2004, ISBN 0-521-32882-9, ISBN 0-521-35059-X, ISBN 0-521-35060-3, ISBN 0-521-34350-X
  • , by Noboru Koyama, translated by Ian Ruxton, This book includes information about the wooden spoon and the university in the 19th century as well as the Japanese students.


External links




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