• Newnham College, Cambridge

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Newnham College, Cambridge

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Newnham College
Established: 1871
University: University of Cambridge
Address: Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge CB3 9DF
Telephone: +44 1223 335700
Website: http://www.newn.cam.ac.uk/
Student Union/JCR website:
Graduate/MCR website: no
Admittance: Female undergraduates and female graduates


Undergraduate Student Statistics

  • Total Undergraduates in 2007-8 = 400 (0 men + 400 women)
  • Total Undergraduates in 2006-7 = 412 (0 men + 412 women)
  • Students admitted to their current course in Oct 07: 116 (0 men + 116 women)
  • Students admitted to their current course in Oct 06: 128 (0 men + 128 women)

Source: The Reporter Special Issue: Student Numbers 07-08

Newnham Application Statistics See College applications and admissions statistics

Newnham Application Statistics per subject See Appplication Statistics

55% of Newnham acceptances in 2007 and 49% in 2006 were from state school students (source).


Newnham College is on Sidgwick Avenue, directly opposite the Sidgwick Site (where many arts students have lectures & classes). The benefit of having your college & your faculty in such close proximity is not to be overlooked - even living in the furthest building in Newnham (Peile), your daily commute will be under 5 minutes walking, door to door.

That said, the commute for science students in not particularily long either; Newnham is a fairly central college, & it only takes a 10 minute cycle to the Downing Site.

Getting to town (i.e. Market Square) from Newnham typically takes 10-20 minutes, depending on whether you are walking in trainers or heels :P


The room system in Newnham is a little different than at other colleges. Everybody pays the same amount for rent, then (in a randomised ballot) the 3rd years pick their rooms first, followed by 2nd years, and 1st years get allocated whatever is left. The ballot list is reversed each year, so if you are top of the ballot for choosing second year rooms, you will be the last person in your year to choose your third year rom. There are a handful of 'substandard' rooms, which are considered especially small. If you are unlucky enough to get one of these rooms, then your place in the ballot is drawn as normal but you are put to the top of the ballot for your second year. For your third year, you are placed as you would have been if you'd always been in your allocated placei n the ballot.

In terms of facilities, a lot depends on which building you live in, and even which corridor. There are a few en-suite rooms but, due to the ballot system, they almost always go to 3rd years. More typically, a bathroom will be shared between 7-10 people. The newer buildings have sinks in student rooms, while the older ones do not. Many rooms have antique furniture, such as 'coffins' (large wooden blanket chests) and bureaux.

For reference, the accommodation buildings in Newnham are: Old Hall, Strachey, Fawcett, Sidgwick, Clough & Peile. Old Hall & Peile are old with vast differences in quality of facilities, depending on where you are. For example, one kitchen may have a large dining table and a couple of fridges, which another might be tiny with only a hob. (You can however use other kitchens so you will always have access to an oven, and almost all kitchens do have one.) Sidgwick & Clough are also old buildings, but have slightly more reliable facilities; hence, they are usually very popular buildings with 2nd & 3rd years. Fawcett and Strachey are newer buildings, with the most reliable facilities (i.e. the bathrooms & kitchens are all roughly the same, & every room has a sink in it), but due to their appearance, they are not in demand & usually end up with 1st years in them. Kennedy requires refurbishment before it can be used for accommodation and so is not currently used other than in exceptional circumstances.

There are two lease schemes: (a) 3 x 10 weeks (covering just the terms, meaning the rooms must be mostly emptied or items placed in lockable storage during the Winter and Easter vacations); and (b) 39 weeks (keeping the room over the two vacations). For 2012/13, the costs were:

Short licence (a): Rent £1312.60 per term, Kitchen Fixed Charge £232.82 per term, Total rent & KFC for 3 term x 10 weeks = £4636.26, Payable in 3 equal instalments of £1545.42

Long licence (b): Total rent £5119.14, Kitchen Fixed Charge £803.22, Total rent & KFC for continuous licence = £5922.36, Payable in 3 equal instalments of £1974.12

The long licence is mostly taken out by international students, though some UK students who live particularly far away or who would find it difficult to move their belongings each term do take it. Due to the standardisation of Newnham's rent, it is comparatively fairly expensive (though definitely not the worst!). The college also offers 'Hardship Funds' to help any student who is struggling financially, so the rent should not offer any cause for concern. Rent is fixed for 3 years; an applicant to a 4-year course will pay the same rent for the first 3 years and then in her final year she will pay what students in the year below are paying.

Rent covers background heating & lighting. Electricity is extra (but usually comes to less than £10/term) as is Internet (£29.33 as of Michaelmas 2012).

All girls?

  • Newnham is a female-only college in a mixed-sex university; this means that, while there may be no male students living in your accommodation, your day-to-day life as a Cambridge University student will inevitably bring you into contact with them, through lectures, labs or supervisions (just to mention the academic side of things... ;) )
  • The fact that Newnham is an female-only college means that Newnham students tend to have more motivation to get involved with societies and activities in the university as a whole. So not having male students in college does not mean you will not have male friends at university. There's also a Newnham mixed lacrosse team... so we even borrow men from other colleges! The only down of all this outgoing, university-level socialising is that the Newnham bar can be a bit quiet.
  • A significant percentage of people are pooled to Newnham rather than choosing it directly but, like the vast majority of pooled applicants, they usually end up loving their new college. To anyone currently in that situation, it should be made clear that it would be REALLY stupid to turn down an offer just because it's a female-only college; the rumours of it being 'just like an all-girls boarding school' are simply not true. There is very little bitchiness or cliqueness between students (we're a little too old for that) and, unlike boarding school, we can leave whenever we want!

Social Spaces

There are 3 common rooms (in Fawcett, Clough & Peile) as well as the bar, so the college has plenty of spaces to relax. Furthermore, you can walk on the grass (not so in many colleges)! This means that relaxing outside in the college gardens is very popular during the Summer months. The Buttery space is open 24 hours, and is often used for working or chatting.

Library and Computing

The library is one of the best stocked college libraries in the university with 90,000 books. With three floors in the new building & two floors in the old, there's also plenty of space to work. It has a computer room and a photocopying room on the ground floor.

The library is open from 7am - 12.45am daily.

Academic Performance

Newnham's ranking in the Tompkins Table (which ranks colleges by their Tripos exam results): 24th (2008), 22nd (2007), 23rd (2006), 21st (2005), 13th (2004), 21st (2003), 22nd (2002), 24th (2001), 24th (2000).


Rowing: as a novice rower you can completely chose how much you want to row. Most boats go out 1-3 times a week in the first term, then if you love it (which you will!) it is completely up to you from then on. I organise boats that just go out every sunday afternoon for a bit of a paddle right up to my boat that had 9 training sessions a week! But regardless of the level of committment, everyone is part of NCBC with all the socials and swaps and we become a close knit bunch of boaties!

Newnham was declared the 24th sportiest Cambridge College in Michealmas 2009 by The Tab. See The Tab article: The College Cup revealed

Newnham has a small gym, and there are playing fields on site.


Newnham girls are renowned for being outgoing & socialising on a university-wide level; unlike some other colleges, we don't suffer from insularity. Perhaps due to this tendency, the atmosphere in college is relaxed and fairly quiet.

That said, there are also a number of college societies to get involved in, whether you're interested in sport, art, drama, film or music. See the college website for a full list.

The JCR has committed to providing one non-alcoholic event for every alcoholic one. This means that if, say, there's a band night in the bar where alcohol will be served, there will also be a non-alcoholic film night, Body Shop party or something similar.


  • College Library with some 90,000 books and long (though not 24-hour) opening hours
  • Computer rooms with 24-hour access
  • Self-service canteen (with sofas & Wi-Fi) & dining hall
  • College Bar with huge flatscreen TV
  • 3 common rooms with TVs
  • 2 Laundry rooms (with washing machines & tumble dryers), as well as various drying/ironing rooms
  • Music practice rooms
  • Performing arts space (Old Labs)
  • Art room
  • Dark room
  • Muti-gym
  • Tennis/netball courts
  • Playing fields on site
  • Extensive gardens
  • Observatory

Student-eye view

Look up Newnham in the CUSU Alternative Prospectus

Newnham's gym is good and on site (lots of colleges don't have an on site facility). Ditto the playing fields. The library is *fantastic*! We've got a brand new shiny catering area and main Hall, with a friendly coffee and social area attached. The gardens is one of the best-kept secrets in Cambridge - it's beautiful and huge...and we can *walk on the grass*! The College is an easy walk into town, but far enough out to avoid all the annoying tourists. Importantly, you will have lots of teaching by *women* which, in a science subject particularly, is actually quite rare. (Though don't worry, you WILL have male supervisors, and you WILL be taught with men too!). Newnham doesn't feel like a college or institution, but it feels like home...you come in after a long day and it feels really comfortable and...nice!


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