The University of Cambridge is committed to the principle that no qualified UK or EU student should be deterred by their financial circumstances from applying to Cambridge, and that no publicly-funded UK or EU student should have to leave because of financial difficulties.

The cost of studying at Downing

Downing College recognises that the cost of going to university is a concern for prospective students and their parents. Here you will find an index of useful resources which can help you assess the overall cost of study.

It is worth mentioning that the popular misconception of Cambridge being an expensive place to live and study is just that; a misconception. Students at Downing enjoy access to the same student concessions and discounts as those across the UK.

Useful resources

Major outgoings

The costs associated with university life are much like those costs which non-students are subject to. They principally include:

  • College Surety 
  • accommodation
  • food
  • information
  • transport
  • entertainment.

College Surety 

College Sureties are £400 for Undergraduates and £300 for Postgraduates. These are repayable and are credited against the final bill in your final year of study.


Rent varies depending on which band your accommodation falls within. Look at our Fees and Charges page.

Remember, Downing first-year students only pay rent during term time, which takes up between 29 and 38 weeks of the year, depending on where you stay. Full details are available in the accommodation section of this website.


Details of catering in-College, and the costs associated with it are available in the catering section of this site. You can also compare the fees and charges for guests and non-members. All Downing accommodation has access to a kitchen.  You may choose to self-cater or eat in College on a day-by-day basis.


As well as grants available to help cover the cost of purchasing books, there are 114 libraries spread across each College and Faculty in the University.

Downing students have 24-hour internet access at no extra cost, as all Downing rooms have access to high-speed broadband.  There are scanning and printing facilities which are subject to a small charge.


Cambridge is a small city which one can walk or cycle around easily. The Colleges, lecture sites and the city centre itself are all very compact, meaning that day-to-day travel costs for students are minimal or non-existent.


It is worth noting that, as many social events are college-based and student-run, they are subsidised.

An average entry fee for Friday night entertainment in-College costs around £3, and the College Bar, run by a student committee, is a far cheaper option than the pubs and clubs outside.

The Formal Halls are popular for birthdays and special events. Downing also has a TV room for use by undergraduates. The College and the University has an enormous range of clubs and societies open to students at little or no cost, including drama, music and a variety of sports.

Part-time work

Terms at Cambridge are very short compared to other institutions, only eight weeks in duration, but these terms require a large amount of attention and dedication to academic work.

In light of this, taking up paid employment during term time is strongly discouraged, and virtually nobody does so.

That being said, the short terms mean that students are typically the first to apply for seasonal jobs out of term time:

  • College libraries and IT departments occasionally employ students on a casual basis.
  • The Cambridge Admissions Office employs student ambassadors to work at access and widening participation events.
  • Many Colleges, including Downing, pay current students to act as helpers during the interview season.
  • College bars, particularly those which are student-run, offer flexible paid shifts.
  • During vacations, particularly the summer, the Cambridge Admissions Office and particular colleges will also employ students to help with summer schools and exchange programmes, usually paying for your accommodation and food as well.
  • Many colleges also employ students for annual telephone campaigns which aim to attract donations from ex-students.