Thursday, November 8, 2007

The University of Cambridge

Speaking individually, people mention Oxford first since Oxford came into existence before Cambridge University. Cambridge University is much younger. It is only celebrating its 800th birth anniversary in 2009.

So awe-inspiring are these universities that they have also been restructured in Japan. Only the Japanese mention Cambridge first, based on the alphabetical order.


Cambridge University, the second oldest university in the UK, proves its reputation by the sheer strength of its Nobel Prize winners. No other university in the world has produced this many achievers.

Since the year 1904, 81 affiliates of the University have won the Nobel Prize.

• Bertrand Russell was the first person to win the Nobel Prize from this University. He was awarded for his literary work, ‘A History of Western Philosophy.’
• The first woman of this University to win the Nobel was Dorothy Hodgkin. Her work dealing with the structure of compounds used to fight anaemia won universal acclamation.
• Fredrick Sanger holds the distinction of winning the Nobel Prize twice. Only 3 other people hold this unique record.
• The Trinity College won 31 Nobel Prizes. This college has produced the maximum number of prize winners.

The Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) ranked Cambridge the 2nd best university in the world. Critics feel that THES that reports news on education highly favours British institutions. Critics were proved wrong when the Shanghai Jiao Tong University also ranked Cambridge the second best university in the world.

The Sunday times League Table had once ranked Cambridge the best university for many years persistently. This university produces more doctorates than Oxford University.

Administration of Cambridge University

The university is governed by the Chancellor who is the Duke of Edinburgh. He holds office for life. The Vice chancellor is the real executive head while the former is a head, symbolically.

The university campus holds 31 colleges and many departments. The varied departments conduct experiments and give lectures. The colleges take care of the admission procedure and cater to the welfare of the students.

Of the 31 colleges in the university, 3 colleges admit only women candidates. All the other colleges are co-educational. Though each college exhibits a strong leaning towards certain subjects, students studying different subjects are admitted.

The university as a unit developed a strong inclination towards mathematics since the days of Sir Isaac Newton. All students entering this university are expected to compulsorily study this subject. Liking for mathematics is well recognised. And, the ‘Isaac Newton Institute’ that is part of the university is considered as a research centre for mathematics and theoretical physics.

The Admission Procedure

Admissions were not granted to women till 1869. The opening of the Girton College (the first women’s college) changed the system. And, after that it took almost a century for all the colleges to admit women. Colleges turned co-educational between 1960 and 1988. The men and women candidate ratio is fast changing, and reaching a near equal figure.

Admission procedure for such a prestigious university is different from the other universities in the UK. Application forms have to be submitted much prior to the deadline set by other universities.

Only students who get 3 A grades in the ‘A’ level are called for an interview. The interview methods are unique, for candidates are evaluated for the originality of their answers that reveals their creative thinking. Strong orientation towards mathematics dictates that students perform well in the Sixth Term Examination Papers (STEP) in mathematics.

Fame initiates the association of many myths. The most famous myth about Cambridge University is about the mathematical bridge near Queen’s College. It was believed that the bridge was held together without any nuts and bolts. However, this might have been only a myth. The current bridge has distinctly visible nuts and bolts all over.

Cambridge, the prestigious university, has an exceptionally difficult selection process to ensure that only the best gain entry into their campus.

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