The Universities in Cambridge

The Universities in Cambridge

University of Cambridge logoCambridge is most famous as the home of the University of Cambridge… (UoC) which was founded in 1209. It has more than 18,000 students from all walks of life and all corners of the world, nearly 9,000 staff, 31 Colleges and 150 Departments, Faculties, Schools and other institutions. The University is a confederation of Schools, Faculties, Departments and Colleges. The Colleges are governed by their own statutes and regulations, but are integral to the make-up of the University of Cambridge.

It is currently ranked first in the UK by the key university ranking tables, and is one of the top five universities in the world. The list of famous people that the UoC has produced include Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, Henry Cavendish, Charles Babbage, David Attenborough, Rupert Brooke, AA Milne, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Francis Bacon, Francis Crick, John Cockcroft, Stephen Hawking, Alan Turing, Oliver Cromwell, David Owen, William Pitt, Samuel Pepys, CS Lewis and Robert Walpole. A total of 15 British Primes Ministers have been educated by the university.

The University of Cambridge attracts global talent, fosters innovation and encourages business spin-outs. Since 1904, ninety Cambridge University affiliates have been awarded the Nobel Prize, which is exceptional.


Cambridge is also home to Anglia Ruskin University which has a student population of over 35,000. Its origins lie in 1858 when John Ruskin opened a School of Art in Cambridge. This became the Cambridgeshire College of Arts & Technology in 1960, which merged with The Essex Institute of Higher Education in 1989 to form Anglia Polytechnic University (APU). This was awarded university status in 1992, changing its name to Anglia Ruskin in 2005. As well as Cambridge, it has campuses in London, Chelmsford and Peterborough into which it has invested £122 million in the past five years.

Graduation at Anglia Ruskin University

Graduation Day (Image: Anglia Ruskin)

It was named UK Entrepreneurial University of the Year at the Times Higher Education Awards in November 2014. Each year it helps 2,000 businesses via its student intern program.

The university also has six high-profile research institutes, the first of these was the Postgraduate Medical Institute, set up in 2008, which carries out ground-breaking medical research and trains healthcare professionals in a range of sophisticated techniques.

The Open University logo

There is also a third university, the Open University, whose headquarters for the East of England is based in Cambridge and looks after students in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. 80 staff and 600 part-time tutors support more than 21,000 students. The OU offers over 250 qualifications from certificates, diplomas and foundation degrees through to Masters and PhDs.


One of the likely issues that Cambridge Ahead will seek to address in the future is improving the integration of the universities and business in Cambridge. Although many Cambridge companies are ‘spin outs’ from the university, and many start-ups have been made by former students or members, there remains a case for making all the universities more accessible to businesses, to integrate them better into business life, to support translational activity and to demonstrate impact.


† Member of Cambridge Ahead