Downing College, Cambridge

Downing College is a unique academic community: diverse, close-knit and committed. The College's purpose is to provide a world-class education to the students with the most potential in each subject, whatever their means or social background. 

We believe that all forms of discrimination – by colour, by gender, by social background or by sexual orientation - are unacceptable.

We are a diverse and welcoming scholarly community. At the start of the academic year 2022-23, our lively community consisted of 52 Fellows, 458 undergraduates, and 537 graduates. 

Our College’s beautiful neo-classical buildings are set among spacious and peaceful gardens in the heart of Cambridge city centre, close to many University faculties and departments.

The College is one of 31 colleges within the University of Cambridge, which is consistently ranked among the top universities in the world.  Each college is autonomous, self-governing and distinctive.

Our values and strategy document.

Newest of the old and oldest of the new

Founded in 1800, through a bequest made by Sir George Downing 3rd Baronet, the Downing College Charter granted a perpetual college for students in ‘Law, physic and the other useful arts and learning’.  Downing elected its first Fellow in 1808 and admitted its first undergraduate in 1817.

Known as the 'newest of the old and oldest of the new', the College was the 17th to be founded within the University of Cambridge, after a gap of 204 years, some 69 years before the founding of Girton College, which was the first women’s College in Cambridge. In 2023, Professor Graham Virgo was installed as the College’s 19th Master.  Further information on our history can be found here.

Downing College, originally formed ‘for the encouragement of the study of Law and Medicine and of the cognate subjects of Moral and Natural Science’, now accepts students in all subjects taught in the University of Cambridge. Our students live, learn and work together within the supportive College environment.  Our highly respected Fellows are dedicated and enthusiastic teachers whose ground-breaking work expands horizons and opens new vistas of knowledge. Our results testify to our excellence.