East Anglia has one of the best University’s in the world. Founded in 1209 Cambridge University is the second oldest university in the English speaking world and the fourth oldest that is found anywhere in the world. In 2017 it was rated as being the second best university in the world by The World University Rankings with only their old rivals Oxford being ahead of them. The University has a profound influence on the region. The structure and composition of Cambridge has been influenced by centuries of different university buildings being built. The university comprises of 31 different colleges that are located around the city.
The oldest college is Pembrooke College that was founded in 1284 and the most recent is Homerton which was founded in the 17th century, but only attained full college status in 2010. The colleges are divided between the old colleges that were founded before 1596, and the new colleges that were founded after 1800. The colleges tend to specialize in certain areas of study. There are three female only colleges, Murray Edwards, Newnham and Lucy Cavendish. The colleges at Hughes Hall, St Edmund’s and Wolfson only admit post graduate students. The university has a population of over 20,000 students which are split between the two sites, the Downing site and the older New Museums site.
The University has a number of museums, libraries and sporting venues that are major features on the city’s sky line. The River Cam is often busy with the university students as they prepare for rowing competitions or merely taking leisurely punt down then river. The sport at the university produces world class athletes. The highlight of any sport is the annual fixture against Oxford and any student who gains selection receives a coveted Blue. The pilgrimage each December of the student population to Twickenham to see the rugby contest, is followed by a similar migration in April to the banks of the Thames, to watch the boat race.
Many students have left the university to represent their country. Michael Atherton captained the England cricket team as did Mike Brearley, Tony Lewis and Ted Dexter. Rob Andrew played fly Half for the England ruby union team and other ex-students such as Damien Hopley, Tony Underwood and Andy Ripley also represented their country As well as sport being popular at the university so are the arts. The Cambridge University Footlights Club is known around the world for some of the great actors that have appeared on its stage and some of the productions they have run. Past presidents include Peter Cooke, Tim Brooke Taylor and Clive Anderson.
In 1981 the club won the Perrier Award at the Edinburgh fringe and the cast included some notable names. Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson and Tony Slattery all when on to pursue successful stage careers. The university attracts some of the greatest intellectuals from around the world. Notable scientists such as Stephen Hawking, Sir Isaac Newton and Max Perutz all attended the university. The university has produced 15 British Prime Ministers with the most recent including Stanley Baldwin, Arthur Balfour and Henry Campbell-Bannerman.
Cambridge has also proved popular with royalty and past monarchs have included George VI, Edward VII and Sofia, Queen Consort of Spain. The University has brought international recognition into the region and has even recently been a catalyst for an economic book as high tech industries have come into the area keen to take advantage of the research facilities available, and the potential to employ highly educated staff.