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What are Colleges for?

One unique and special feature of Cambridge is that it is a collegiate University. There are more than thirty different colleges within the University to complement and support the academic aspects of life by providing a base for social and sporting activities, in addition to some learning and teaching associated with the course. The Colleges are also crucial in providing financial and pastoral support if required. Students live at a college for at least the first three years and sometimes for the duration of the whole course, retaining strong links with it throughout.

Being in a college means you meet people from all different subjects and backgrounds and so enjoy a well-rounded University experience


Cambridge vet students socialise with students who are studying many different subjects, as wide-ranging as Engineering to History and Modern Languages. In contrast to other vet schools, Cambridge vets mix with students from all over the University, resulting in wide and diverse social groups. The Colleges are essential in making sure that their vet students reach their full potential academically, and also that they enjoy their time at Cambridge.


Colleges support students in many different ways. If students fall on hard times or need a little extra funding, they have a well-established system of college bursaries and awards to alleviate hardship, and also funds for music, sport, travel and books. Your college will also provide pastoral support; the veterinary course is fast paced and at vet schools with large class sizes and no college system, it can be easy to escape the attention of people who can help students if they get into difficulty. A great strength of Cambridge is that both the college and departmental staff know students as individuals, look out for them and are always willing to help.

The college is also the venue for another unique feature of life at Cambridge – ‘supervisions’. Typically, this is a teaching session in very small groups in college rooms, usually only 3 or 4 students with one supervisor. Supervisions give students a great opportunity to discuss and explore aspects of the material that has been covered in lectures and practical sessions. Supervisors are experts in their field and although they regularly report on your work, the supervisions are not formally assessed, so this is a great opportunity to take risks with your own ideas and investigate new approaches.

I cannot emphasise enough what a wonderful opportunity the supervisions have been.


Most colleges offer similar facilities; sports, libraries, social areas, dining halls, accommodation, but they vary in location, size and age. The best way to find out more about the colleges is to peruse their websites, or you can come along to an open day at some of them get a feel for each college. Many colleges are happy to organize visits and taster days – just get in touch with the admissions office at the colleges and find out what they might be able to offer.

When applications are submitted for the course via UCAS, applicants will be asked to specify which college they would like to apply to, or they can make an open application. This means that applications will be sent to a college which still has spaces available after allocations from those who have specified a college have been made. Below is a table which gives the veterinary ‘quota’ for each college – the minimumnumber of offers in Veterinary Medicine they are expected to give each year. Each year, some colleges give more offers than their minimum quota, and our aim is to take approximately 70 first year students.

The college system allows greater access to accessible sports and music, plus you make friends from all courses and backgrounds of life.

Hannah 2013

Please note that colleges which admit more vet students tend to get correspondingly more applicants – so you should not avoid colleges which take fewer.

In addition, you should not be concerned about the possibility that your application will be disadvantaged if you happen to apply to a college which receives an unusually large number of good applicants in that admissions year. We run a very efficient system, called the 'intercollegiate pool', by which such applicants may be re-allocated to other colleges. As a result, your chances of gaining a place at Cambridge are not affected by your initial choice of college.

Churchill 2 Jesus 3 St Catharine's 5
Clare 4 Magdalene 4 St John's 3
Downing 2 Murry Edwards 5 Selwyn 4
Emmanuel 4 Newnham 3 Sidney Sussex 2
Fitzwilliam 3 Pembroke 2 Trinity Hall 2
Girton 9 Queens' 3 Robinson 4
Gonville & Caius 2


Lucy Cavendish, St Edmund’s, Wolfson share a quota of 6 and admit mature and graduate students.

Lucy Cavendish, Murray Edwards, Newnham admit only female students.

Christ’s, Corpus Christi, Trinity, King’s and Peterhouse do not accept applications for veterinary medicine.