The Student Room Group

Curious about King's College, Cambridge

Currently drafting a list of Cambridge colleges to visit on their open day and King's is one of my favourites. However, I've heard it has a bit of history of far left support and there's also a communist flag hanging in one of their bars? What is it really like?
Reply 1
Original post by ElCorleone
Currently drafting a list of Cambridge colleges to visit on their open day and King's is one of my favourites. However, I've heard it has a bit of history of far left support and there's also a communist flag hanging in one of their bars? What is it really like?


Most students tend to be more leftist. And no, Kings isn't communist.

And you might note the flag is displayed inside a very valuable antique picture frame...

https://www.varsity.co.uk/comment/6843

Posted from TSR Mobile
Some things to note:

- King's isn't actually Communist. It's kinda just a Cambridge meme, but it's not true. This reputation may, however, attract more left wing students than elsewhere (King's students always seem quite right-on to me at least, though their backgrounds certainly aren't more diverse than students at other colleges)
- King's hosts very few formal dinners compared to other colleges, and it's extremely difficult to get guest tickets (or indeed tickets at all) to these events
- King's doesn't host a traditional black-tie Ball. Instead, it hosts the King's Affair, which is the same price as a May Ball but which is fancy dress and a bit leftfield - it's therefore quite take it or leave it as a party. You can always sell your tickets though if it's not to your taste
- King's has a superb choir, obviously. However, it's worth noting that any student at any college (and indeed members of the public) can attend Evensong every day for free, so nothing special is gained by being a King's student
- Anecdotally, King's rooms are amongst the shabbiest I've seen in Cambridge. I've had reasonable experience of rooms in different areas of college and for various functions (bar, supervision rooms, booked rooms, student rooms). My general impression of King's is of faded grandeur, with the exception of the chapel which is obviously absolutely incredible
- Its boat club is below average in terms of performance despite the large number of students it has available to recruit from, though they've recently built a new (shared) boathouse with the Leys School and Churchill
- Location is very central. This means that it's very convenient to get to places, but also that: other students use King's as a thoroughfare from the Sidgwick Site/UL to town, and that it's always swarming with tourists (even when college is closed they form an impenetrable mob around the main gate - quite annoying tbh)
- Recently their porters have been embroiled in a scandal over alleged racial profiling. Can't speak as to the truth of this, except that in my experience the King's porters are actually some of the nicest and most helpful porters I've encountered at any Cambridge college, including my own
- Despite its relatively large endowment, King's appears to have little money to spend on things like formals/rooms/societies, as indicated above. Not sure what's going on here, just something I noticed during my time at Cambridge
Reply 3
Original post by Parliament
Some things to note:

- King's isn't actually Communist. It's kinda just a Cambridge meme, but it's not true. This reputation may, however, attract more left wing students than elsewhere (King's students always seem quite right-on to me at least, though their backgrounds certainly aren't more diverse than students at other colleges)
- King's hosts very few formal dinners compared to other colleges, and it's extremely difficult to get guest tickets (or indeed tickets at all) to these events
- King's doesn't host a traditional black-tie Ball. Instead, it hosts the King's Affair, which is the same price as a May Ball but which is fancy dress and a bit leftfield - it's therefore quite take it or leave it as a party. You can always sell your tickets though if it's not to your taste
- King's has a superb choir, obviously. However, it's worth noting that any student at any college (and indeed members of the public) can attend Evensong every day for free, so nothing special is gained by being a King's student
- Anecdotally, King's rooms are amongst the shabbiest I've seen in Cambridge. I've had reasonable experience of rooms in different areas of college and for various functions (bar, supervision rooms, booked rooms, student rooms). My general impression of King's is of faded grandeur, with the exception of the chapel which is obviously absolutely incredible
- Its boat club is below average in terms of performance despite the large number of students it has available to recruit from, though they've recently built a new (shared) boathouse with the Leys School and Churchill
- Location is very central. This means that it's very convenient to get to places, but also that: other students use King's as a thoroughfare from the Sidgwick Site/UL to town, and that it's always swarming with tourists (even when college is closed they form an impenetrable mob around the main gate - quite annoying tbh)
- Recently their porters have been embroiled in a scandal over alleged racial profiling. Can't speak as to the truth of this, except that in my experience the King's porters are actually some of the nicest and most helpful porters I've encountered at any Cambridge college, including my own
- Despite its relatively large endowment, King's appears to have little money to spend on things like formals/rooms/societies, as indicated above. Not sure what's going on here, just something I noticed during my time at Cambridge


Wow...I can’t thank you enough for this comprehensive overview. Cheers!

PS: I’ve heard a lot about King’s lacking in funds. Where’s all the money going? Something dirty going on, perhaps?
Original post by ElCorleone
Wow...I can’t thank you enough for this comprehensive overview. Cheers!

PS: I’ve heard a lot about King’s lacking in funds. Where’s all the money going? Something dirty going on, perhaps?


Definitely not corruption - there are all kinds of reasons why a large endowment may not correlate to increased spending on facilities etc. The money's probably tied up somewhere in some way which means they can't siphon much of it off to spend. Doonesbury or someone probably has a better idea than me! I can only tell you what I've seen on the ground at King's, which is that the whole place is in dire need of a fresh coat of paint and some new carpets...
Reply 5
Original post by Parliament
Definitely not corruption - there are all kinds of reasons why a large endowment may not correlate to increased spending on facilities etc. The money's probably tied up somewhere in some way which means they can't siphon much of it off to spend. Doonesbury or someone probably has a better idea than me! I can only tell you what I've seen on the ground at King's, which is that the whole place is in dire need of a fresh coat of paint and some new carpets...


Yes and it's not Trinity or John's level wealthy, or Peterhouse for that matter (the double whammy of small and wealthy). And endowments have limited "utility" anyway because usually they have strict rules on what they can be actually spent on. The 1.5% interest accrued on Sir Boswald Smythe's £1 million endowment has to be spent on Fellow's wine not new showers for the Freshers (entirely a made up example but you get the idea...).

Kings is 9th by size of Endowment. So, no not *that* wealthy.

@threeportdrift might have a more specific comment about relative finances...

Posted from TSR Mobile
(edited 5 years ago)
Original post by Doonesbury
Yes and it's not Trinity or John's level wealthy, or Peterhouse for that matter (the double whammy of small and wealthy). And endowments have limited "utility" anyway because usually they have strict rules on what they can be actually spent on. The 1.5% interest accrued on Sir Boswald Smythe's £1 million endowment has to be spent on Fellow's wine not new showers for the Freshers (entirely a made up example but you get the idea...).

Kings is 9th by size of Endowment. So, no not *that* wealthy.

@threeportdrift might have a more specific comment about relative finances...

Posted from TSR Mobile


Not really much to add specific to King's, except it has a similarly costly estate, nearly all Grade 1 or 2* listed and not the same endowment as the aforementioned Colleges. I believe it has quite generous grad studentships, but it only takes an internal priority like that and the painting shifts from a 5 year cycle to an 8 year cycle. The size of a College endowment is a bit of a red herring, they can only spend a smoothed proportion of the interest, about 3% and the wealthy Colleges all pay an internally agreed levy to the poorer Colleges and they all pay different rates to the undergrad bursary fund, ie Trinity pays most of it.
Original post by Parliament
Some things to note:

- King's isn't actually Communist. It's kinda just a Cambridge meme, but it's not true. This reputation may, however, attract more left wing students than elsewhere (King's students always seem quite right-on to me at least, though their backgrounds certainly aren't more diverse than students at other colleges)
- King's hosts very few formal dinners compared to other colleges, and it's extremely difficult to get guest tickets (or indeed tickets at all) to these events
- King's doesn't host a traditional black-tie Ball. Instead, it hosts the King's Affair, which is the same price as a May Ball but which is fancy dress and a bit leftfield - it's therefore quite take it or leave it as a party. You can always sell your tickets though if it's not to your taste
- King's has a superb choir, obviously. However, it's worth noting that any student at any college (and indeed members of the public) can attend Evensong every day for free, so nothing special is gained by being a King's student
- Anecdotally, King's rooms are amongst the shabbiest I've seen in Cambridge. I've had reasonable experience of rooms in different areas of college and for various functions (bar, supervision rooms, booked rooms, student rooms). My general impression of King's is of faded grandeur, with the exception of the chapel which is obviously absolutely incredible
- Its boat club is below average in terms of performance despite the large number of students it has available to recruit from, though they've recently built a new (shared) boathouse with the Leys School and Churchill
- Location is very central. This means that it's very convenient to get to places, but also that: other students use King's as a thoroughfare from the Sidgwick Site/UL to town, and that it's always swarming with tourists (even when college is closed they form an impenetrable mob around the main gate - quite annoying tbh)
- Recently their porters have been embroiled in a scandal over alleged racial profiling. Can't speak as to the truth of this, except that in my experience the King's porters are actually some of the nicest and most helpful porters I've encountered at any Cambridge college, including my own
- Despite its relatively large endowment, King's appears to have little money to spend on things like formals/rooms/societies, as indicated above. Not sure what's going on here, just something I noticed during my time at Cambridge


Interesting. Personally when I stayed in King's for the interviews I found the facilities to be very pleasant. Perhaps it's just the standards relative to your college:smile:?
Specific question here: Does anyone know how we can get hold of tickets to the BBC recording session of the Carols from Kings concert (filmed in early December)? I’ve been told Kings grads are “offered” them. As a non-Kings grad I’m willing to pay if someone knows a Kings grad who will not use their tickets.

Happy to pay both the Kings grad and the individual who connects me if they’re able to help find tickets (It’s a Christmas gift for my mum who has always wanted to experience it in person).
Kings has a reputation of being where a higher percentage of comprehensive students are accepted than at the other ancient colleges. It's strange to think that the most famous Cambridge college, and the most imposing one, isn't the one where most private schools would necessarily apply. On the other hand, it makes sense that private schools would favour making other colleges (St John's, Robinson, Caius, Magdalene, Peterhouse), where the hoi polloi would be less likely to apply, 'their own'.

This, of course, doesn't mean that Kings College is the least prestigious to be accepted to. Generally, people prefer not to be accepted by the 1960s era colleges, no matter how much they might not mind the architecture.

Churchill, Homerton, St Catharines, Murray Edwards, and Girton were the colleges with the highest state school intake in 2018.
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by Picnicl
Kings has a reputation of being where a higher percentage of comprehensive students are accepted than at the other ancient colleges. It's strange to think that the most famous Cambridge college, and the most imposing one, isn't the one where most private schools would necessarily apply. On the other hand, it makes sense that private schools would favour making other colleges (St John's, Robinson, Caius, Magdalene, Peterhouse), where the hoi polloi would be less likely to apply, 'their own'.

This, of course, doesn't mean that Kings College is the least prestigious to be accepted to. Generally, people prefer not to be accepted by the 1960s era colleges, no matter how much they might not mind the architecture.

Churchill, Homerton, St Catharines, Murray Edwards, and Girton were the colleges with the highest state school intake in 2018.

King's College is the third richest college in Cambridge University!!! :smile:

https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=7259277
Original post by Picnicl
Kings has a reputation of being where a higher percentage of comprehensive students are accepted than at the other ancient colleges. It's strange to think that the most famous Cambridge college, and the most imposing one, isn't the one where most private schools would necessarily apply. On the other hand, it makes sense that private schools would favour making other colleges (St John's, Robinson, Caius, Magdalene, Peterhouse), where the hoi polloi would be less likely to apply, 'their own'.

This, of course, doesn't mean that Kings College is the least prestigious to be accepted to. Generally, people prefer not to be accepted by the 1960s era colleges, no matter how much they might not mind the architecture.

Churchill, Homerton, St Catharines, Murray Edwards, and Girton were the colleges with the highest state school intake in 2018.

'The hoi polloi' is tautology.

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