College Guide

Sidney Sussex

Sidney Sussex (colloquially known as Sidney) is a central college that is renowned for its friendly and tight-knit community. Founded in 1596 by Lady Francis Sidney, the college boasts a range of modern and traditional features, alongside an enviable location opposite Sainsbury's. Despite each year group only have roughly 105 members, the college is by no means desolate, with Sidney's college bar (Sidbar) remaining the cheapest college bar which attracts quite the crowd in the evenings. Sidney's grounds are deceptively large considering the size of the student body, with multiple gardens being found round the back of the college. Uncharacteristically for a Cambridge college, nearly all our gardens can be used freely by students, with events and barbecues frequently taking place in Easter Term. Sidney is also known for having a variety of notable alumni, from Oliver Cromwell (whose head is buried under the college chapel!), to Carol Volderman and Alex Horne.

Introducing your JCR Access Officer

Olivia Woods

Hello! My name is Olivia Woods and I'm a Second Year Theologian. I'm also the Access Officer for Sidney Sussex College Student Union - a job I absolutely adore. Predominantly, I work with our School Liaison Officer to organise outreach programmes for students from typically underrepresented backgrounds looking to apply to Cambridge. Being a first generation student and from a state school, I understand the need for greater accessibility to resources and opportunities for all types of prospective students. Although I spend lots of time speaking to people outside of Sidney, I also aim to be a friendly face around College that resolves any accessibility-related issues that may arise.

Key Facts

~105 UG students per year

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

~£4800 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 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

Limited accessible accommodation


What is your favourite thing about Sidney Sussex?


My favourite thing about Sidney has to be the community. Our year groups are fairly small, so it means everyone tends to know each other fairly well. It's always lovely to walk around the college grounds and end up bumping into someone you know! Before coming to university, I'd anticipated there being separation between the different year groups - yet this isn't the case at Sidney. It's very common to have friends across different year groups, made from joining societies or just from chatting at the bar.

Describe your first year accommdation.


In my first year, I was housed in an accommodation block called Cromwell Court which was a few minutes away from the college site. Cromwell Court housed solely freshers and had some unique features, such as a common room with its own TV! In Cromwell, we were divided into flats of four people; each Cromwell flat contained a shared shower, toilet and gyp. All the gyps (with the exception of two) didn't have hobs, but had a George Foreman, a toaster, a kettle and microwave. During my first year, I was on the lowest rent band which was £136.80 per week.

What is the food like?


For the whole part, the food at Sidney is very good. A meal at Hall would probably set you back around £4, with there being vegetarian and vegan options available. Sidney frequently put on themed nights at Hall, where the menu is altered to fit a particular theme or occasion. We've had peri peri chicken, pies, American-style burgers and so much more last year. Formal Hall at Sidney is always a good night too, with a three-course meal including coffee and chocolate costing £10.20. The menu varies each formal, which you can check out online before you book your meal. The college also does a commendable job at catering to various dietary requirements too!

Does Sidney Sussex provide additional funding?


Bridging Loans - If an expense arises (such as a bill) before student finance has entered your account, the college is able to provide a loan to cover this expense. This is then reclaimed in your College Bill.  Small Grants for One-Off Costs - The college is able to provide small grants (up to £200) for one off costs that may occur. For example, if you urgently needed a train ticket home due to a family emergency. The college is able to provide a small hardship grant without the need for detailed disclosure of your financial need.  College Hardship Grant - The college can provide a hardship grant after the completion of a budget form. Typically, this can be sorted out without the need for senior members of the college getting involved. Dependent on the need, a grant can be given by college, the university, or a combination of the two.  Rent Bursaries (2023/24) - The college is able to provide an automatic rent bursary (the equivalent of 9.5% Band C accommodation rate for their cohort) for students on the Cambridge Bursary Scheme  Class Act Fund - This is money provided by SSCSU for students who identify as Class Act. The fund is aimed to help students fund social aspects of university life that they otherwise would be unable to afford. This money can be accessed discreetly, by filling in a form with your bank details - no questions asked.

What welfare provision does Sidney Sussex offer?


Sidney offers a range of welfare provision: Each student has a consistent college tutor that they meet with twice a term to discuss how they are doing. Further tutor meetings to discuss any issues can be arranged. During exam term, the college nurse hosts stretching session in the library. This encourages students to take a break from studying and do something physical. The librarians provide squash and biscuits during exam term. Each day, the librarians announce snacks are ready and encourage students to leave the library and take a break outside with some refreshments. The Pastoral Tutor frequently communicates over email with the student body, offering meetings to discuss any concerns that may have arisen.  SSCSU Welfare Officers provide a range of sexual health resources to students. This includes having a supply of condoms, lube and pregnancy tests that students can access anonymously at any time. The LGBTQ+ Officer runs a Gender Expression Fund that provides money to students to buy products that better help them express their gender identity. The Women and Non-Binary Officer provides a range of menstrual products to students, including period pants that can be ordered and delivered to students.  As Access Officer, I restock a Food Hub in college on a weekly basis. This provides a range of food that can accessed anonymously to ensure that no students ever go hungry due to financial difficulties.

What are the facilities like at Sidney Sussex?


There are a total of three rooms in Sidney Sussex College which are specifically adapted for wheelchair users. They are all located in Garden Court, a large building in the centre of the college site which contains the library, some offices and three floors of student accommodation. They all have a similar design with a bedroom, ensuite accessible wet room and adapted kitchenette with recessed surfaces for a wheelchair user. Some of them have buttons for automatic door openers but they are not in operation, from those that I have seen. One of the rooms is on the ground floor, which contains one floor of the library and some offices. This room is located next to offices and the nearest student accommodation is two floors above, so it is isolated from other student rooms. The other two rooms are located on the second and third floors, which have other student accommodation and shared kitchen facilities, although the shared kitchens for these floors are not themselves wheelchair accessible, so a wheelchair user would not be able to access the shared social spaces. The second and third floors are accessed by one lift in Garden Court; this lift was previously broken for about a year but is now in operation again, although it is prone to occasionally stop working and there is no other step-free access to these floors. There are a small number of other rooms in college which have the standard layout (not wheelchair accessible) but have alternative fire alarms for D/deaf residents. The gym has rowing machines, weights, treadmills etc…We also have women only hours to ensure everyone feels comfortable.

What would you change about Sidney Sussex?


This is a tricky question, as I love Sidney to its core! I'd potentially change how the college library looks. Unfortunately, Sidney's library simply isn't the prettiest library around and doesn't provide the coveted ‘dark academia vibes' that is usually synonymous with Cambridge. Other than that, I'm not sure I'd want Sidney to be too much different!

Other Resources

 JCR website (Undergrad community)

 College website