College Guide


Downing is a medium sized college next to the Downing site, in the centre of Cambridge. It has over 600 students, around 400 of them undergraduates. It is a large college, benefitting from large and spacious gardens, with a paddock perfect for playing sport and relaxing. Downing is home to a tight-knit community of students from all backgrounds studying a whole range of different subjects, supported by a supportive and welcoming team of porters and staff. We hope you enjoy reading about our beautiful college and hope to see you soon!

Introducing your JCR Access Officer

Mia Urwin

I'm Mia, a 2nd year Medic at Downing, and currently Access Officer on the college JCR. I am working closely with many JCR and College positions, to support and encourage applicants from all walks of life, to give Cambridge a go. We have all felt at some point that Cambridge might not be a welcoming space for us, even those who you might think would fit right in straight away. There is support and community for everyone at this University, and making that clear to prospective, incoming, and current students is vital to maintain and grow the diversity we are proud of.

Key Facts

~130 UG students per year

College size across the uni ranges from 80 - 200 students/year

~£5400 median yearly rent (2022-23)

Median rent ranges from £4100 - £7100 across the uni, including mandatory catering charges. Note this is a rough guide only, and there will be cheaper options as well

Paid gym

Music practice room

No information about inclusive prayer space

Vegetarian, Vegan meals available daily

Gender expression fund available

A fund to reimburse students for items that make them more comfortable with their gender presentation, including but not limited to binders, packers, and concealing underwear

Good accessible accomodation


What is your favourite thing about Downing?


My favourite thing about Downing is its community. With a cafe open morning-afternoon, and the bar in the evening, there is always a potential social space in which you can interact with fellow students. The college is big on its societies and there are plenty of opportunities to support your friends- in matches, theatre productions, etc. The rose garden in the summer is also a beautiful study/social space, and our paddock which reopens in the summer for sport and leisure, has deckchairs dotted around so you can catch up and take in the sun.

Describe your first year accommdation.


My fresher accommodation was some of the best Downing has to offer. Double bed ensuite on the first floor with a lovely view of the college out of the window. The kitchen was small and shared with 9 people but it was enough, and we were blessed with ovens, so you can't really complain. Although the price of that particular room has now gone up, it was short lease and £164 a week at the time.

What is the food like?


Downing is known to have some of the best kitchens in Cambridge and thus our catering is by no means a necessary service. You pay as you go and its not done on prepaid credit, giving you far more control over where you eat and when. Our cafe provides a range of sandwiches and baked goods, and the food hall offers hot meals for lunch and dinner. These meals can vary in student satisfaction of course but for the most part people are happy. The greatest enthusiasm is felt over our weekend-ly 'Downing Brunch', which offers sweets breakfast foods along with a full English and the classic fruit, cereal, and hot drinks. All of the meals served in hall will offer some kind of deal based on what items you buy to make everything as affordable as possible.

Does Downing provide additional funding?


Downing provides all the usual course expense reimbursements, LGBT grants, travel grants, an unexpected hardship fund, and a broad range of scholarships and prizes that are aimed at specific subjects. You can find a list of these and their requirements here.   There is a lot available but to access these college must be presented with a proper reason. In more recent times the JCR have been pushing to make these funds easier to access.

What welfare provision does Downing offer?


There are several avenues students can take to reach welfare provisions. There are two designated welfare officers, and a set of liberation officers, including: women's officers, LGBTQ+ officers, and EMC officers. These are all friendly faces around college who can provide support on a range of issues, as well as being able to direct people towards the help they need. The welfare officers hold mental health events around college, create a safe, relaxed space to have a break. There is also an on-site student well-being centre with a 4-person team of nurses and well-being specialists who can provide support where needed. The well-being team, together with the welfare officers, also make sure that there is readily available information and resources for non-mental health related welfare.

What are the facilities like at Downing?


Accessible accommodation:
Disabled students chose first in the ballot this year. The rooms are expensive simply because they are ensuite rooms, which has created issue among some students with finding affordable that are with friends. The ballot system is constantly changing to find the best solution to this. These rooms are available in almost every accommodation type that the college has (there are around 36 downstairs UG rooms with ensuites in total, but many more with ensuites that are accessible for particular requirements). The gym is currently under refurbishment with new equipment being added. Theatre:
There's the Howard Theatre with its Ferrari red seats and a capacity of about 140. It has a dressing room and plenty of prop and set storage space below. There is also a fancy room directly underneath that is often used for drinks receptions or setting up the theatre bar. The theatre is used for conferences, speakers, and student events through the drama society.

What would you change about Downing?


Downing is one of the most open plan colleges which definitely has its advantages (with the not getting lost and the glorious sunsets), but the lack of courts sometimes makes me a little jealous of the Cambridge magic that the other colleges have with their dipping in and out of corridors into hidden corners of shrubbery.

Other Resources

 JCR website (Undergrad community)

 College website