FAQs

If you can’t find information here or elsewhere on the MCR website, the main College website will tend to have the most comprehensive and up-to-date information – including their own FAQs page.

Help! Something has gone wrong with my room/kitchen/etc.

Maintenance requests are submitted on the College Distro system – more info here.

I need to speak to somebody about a problem with my personal or academic life.

There are plenty of people available to speak to in Downing. The Graduate Tutors are formally in charge of graduate welfare, and you will have been assigned one (and should have met them) at the beginning of your time at Downing. They are prepared to help with a variety of issues (financial issues, mental well-being, illness, relationships with your Supervisor or Department, personal issues e.g. bereavement), assisting you to navigate the often-confusing Cambridge system and to recommend for specialist sources of advice. They should be happy to speak by email or arrange a meeting: it is highly recommended you get in touch should you be experiencing any problems, even if just to be recommended a more specialist source of help. You can find more information about them on the College website.

More informally, you can speak confidentially to any of the appropriate members of the MCR committee (such as Welfare Officers and Equal Ops) about any problems you might be experiencing – both in regular drop-in sessions or by contacting them via email. The College Chaplain, Keith Lyons, is also happy to speak confidentially to any problems you might be having, regardless of religious beliefs.

For physical well-being, Downing has a part-time College Nurse and College councillor, who can also recommend you to further courses of actions – you can find out more on the College website. The Welfare Officers also keep a box of free sexual supplies stocked on the shelves in the MCR.

There may also be alternative sources provided by your Departments, so take a look elsewhere as well.

Can Downing provide any financial assistance with my degree?

Downing has a number of graduate studentships available, information about which can be found here.

The College also provides funds for current postgraduate Downing students to help towards costs of research expenses such as fieldwork and travel to academic conferences. Awards are granted in the range of £50 to £700. Download an application form or pick one up from the carousel outside the Tutorial and Admissions Office. There are no deadlines and applications may be made at any time. More information here.

If you are having personal financial difficulties (including unforeseen financial expenses), there are also hardship funds available to assist you through difficult times. Please speak to your tutor in the first instance.

When do Formal tickets come out?

Formal tickets are generally released a week before the day of the formal (e.g. the prior Friday for Friday formals), but this isn’t set in stone as they are released manually by the catering office – a day either side isn’t unusual.

When is the last Friday formal of term?

Bearing in mind the strange habit of Cambridge ‘weeks’ to end on Wednesday, the last Friday formal of term is often in the week prior to the one in which term actually ends – if in doubt, ask Jane Passey, the deputy catering manager.

Can I get extra guest tickets to formal hall?

If you would like to purchase additional guest tickets beyond those allocated (e.g. for bringing lab groups to formals) then you need permission of the President (president@mcr.dow.cam.ac.uk) before emailing Jane Passey (jp303), the deputy catering manager, to request tickets. Permission for extra tickets will only be given on Wednesdays and Sundays, to help reduce demand on the Friday formal. However, if you’re really planning on going all out, you can arrange to book a private formal in College by contacting the Internal Events Coordinator, Andy Lingham (arl42).

Will [regular event] be on this week?

The Tuesday lunchtime mingle table, Friday pre-formal sherry, Friday evening bar, and Sunday tea and cake, are generally always on throughout term-time, even if not regularly advertised via email (to save everyone’s inboxes on spam). These regular events (or the lack of them) might instead be advertised on the Downing MCR Events Facebook group, so be sure to join.

The coffee machine in the MCR is out of coffee!

Keeping the coffee machine filled and working is the responsibility of the Bar, Sports, and Amenities officers, who should be contacted in the first instance about this. However, you will find that other committee members (and a few more senior and/or caffeine-addicted members of the MCR) might know how to do it as well. The important thing here is to not try and do it yourself if you aren’t absolutely sure how. It’s very easy for the wrong powder to go in the wrong slot and block up the machine entirely.

I’m organising an event for my society. How do I book a room in College?

For small meetings, it is possible for students to book the TV Room in College through the JCR booking system. Note that grads will only be able to book the TV Room, not the JCR, and that the MCR itself is not available for booking. For anything larger (e.g. rooms for seminars/lectures, drinks receptions, and even private dinners), get in touch with Andy Lingham, the internal events coordinator (internal.events@dow.cam.ac.uk). He will be able to recommend an appropriate course of action.

How do I get accomodation in College after the first year of my PhD? 

A ballot is arranged by the MCR Committee in coordination with the Accommodation Office in Lent term. It is usually possible that most who desire it are able to get a room, although the system is set up such that the longer you spend at Downing, the less likely you are to get a room! Keep an eye on your emails for more info.