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Image: Homerton College: University of Cambridge

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What is a College?

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The University of Cambridge, along with Oxford, is one of the few collegiate universities in the UK. It still has all the things you would expect from a university such as faculties and departments, libraries, lectures, science practicals etc., and some you wouldn’t normally expect such as world class art galleries and museums. It also has colleges – 31 of them.

Every student is assigned to a Director of Studies (DoS). Your DoS is responsible for organizing your academic programme and arranges supervisors to help you with essays. Your DoS may well be a Fellow of the College and usually easy to get in touch with.

Students will attend lectures at their subject faculty in the university but supervisions, the small group teaching that is so central to being a student in Cambridge, are paid for and usually organized by your college and its Directors of Studies.

Some of your supervisors will also be from your college, and may often include your DoS, but not always. Many of the lecturers are also supervisors (and may be famous people in their field) and, as your DoS will always try to find the best qualified supervisor for you across the university, including these famous names, you may well end up being supervised in another college, or in the faculty or department - so you have the opportunity to mix freely with other students and staff in the same or similar fields. This results in a rich and exciting student experience with the rare opportunity to talk face to face and discuss your work with experts.

Colleges will also provide you with a Tutor.

Your Tutor is there as a friend and a helping hand if you need it in all kinds of pastoral matters. They are usually chosen from different academic backgrounds and if possible are a different gender from your DoS, so you always feel you have got somebody you can approach whatever the problem. The tutorial system is one of the reasons we manage to keep our students (the highest retention rate in the country) and see them through to a degree. Homerton also has a Dean (in charge of making sure the rules are kept- and with 700 or so living here we need some rules!), and a Pastoral Tutor in case of more difficult personal problems. All colleges offer academic and personal support to their students. At Homerton we like to think we do it very well - without ramming help down your throats if you don’t want it.

Homerton College is a large Cambridge college so it’s usually bustling and busy with something going on.

If you join us you will find you have made friends for life with neighbours on your hall corridor, with people in the same subject, with those who share the same interests and have joined the same societies, and with those you just happened to sit next to at Formal Hall – that’s what a college is.

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