Student Support

At Downing, students have access to several sources of financial support. While some may seek funds to enable extra academic activity in the form of vacation studies abroad or dissertation research placements, unexpected situations may lead others to face financial shortfalls. For graduate students, it’s not uncommon for their studies to continue beyond the period for which they’ve received funding.

In 2016–2017, the College paid out 598 grants for the purchase of books and equipment; attendance at conferences; travel; studentships; and bursaries. Typically, a book grant may be £100, a travel grant may be £500, and a hardship bursary may be £700.

"The value of the grant generously donated by the fund is considerable and goes far beyond its monetary value". 

Sam Pulman (Clinical Medicine, 2012)

The Supervision System

You’ll remember how supervisions provided the ideal environment in which you could test your ideas and interests, while encouraging you to develop your thinking. Supervisions are one of the key reasons that Downing graduates are highly sought after in further study or graduate employment.

Supervision costs are considerable.  As well as payments to supervisors, they require additional support from the College as they take place in historical premises that are expensive to maintain. The average cost of educating an undergraduate at Downing in 2016–2017 was £8,555, almost double the amount allocated to the College in fees. Donations to the Supervision System go into the endowment, enabling us to use the income to support supervisions.

"From our first supervision, which was mind-changing, the next three years were life-changing."

Mark Rushton (Law, 1981)

Undergraduate studentships 

For more information please contact: Jo Finnie Jones, Director of Advancement on Tel: 01223 769466 or at

Postgraduate scholarships

Downing has 300 graduate students in its care – a thriving community that is a small, but important, component of Cambridge’s wider graduate population of 6,500.  These students are the engine room of the College – driving the development of important new ideas and discoveries. Tomorrow, they will be leaders and innovators – tasked not with maintaining the status quo in society, but with challenging it, and with finding ways to make the world work better.

The College is keen to ensure that the PhD students it admits and supports are of the highest possible calibre and will break new ground in the most important fields of research, especially in science and technology. It also recognises the need to ensure that graduate education is open to all, regardless of financial circumstances.

Securing the College’s continuing capacity to offer this kind of crucial support is a high priority. While the College offers financial support in the form of studentships, hardship grants and funding for travel and attendance at conferences, this is not enough to encourage truly remarkable students to join the College, to compete with funding offers from other elite institutions overseas, or to banish uncertainty around post-Brexit fees.

For more information please contact: Jo Finnie Jones, Director of Advancement on 01223 769466 or email

Parents’ Book Fund

During their time at Downing, all of our students benefit in some way from the philanthropic support of our current and former donors. Choosing to give to Downing will assist us to continue to provide educational opportunities, access to fantastic facilities and grants and bursaries to the brightest and most talented students, regardless of their financial background.

Students have highlighted the importance of the Maitland Robinson Library, and the need for financial assistance with the purchase of text books. The Downing College Parents’ Book Fund has been established to support student study by providing for book purchases in the library and for individual book grants. Each gift will be acknowledged by a named bookplate placed inside a book in the library.