International Students

The MCR International officer will be happy to help you with any problems you may have, either before you arrive in Cambridge or when you are settling in. You can also contact any member of the committee we’re helpful and friendly. Don’t be shy!

We regularly hold international-themed events in the MCR to bring together students from diverse cultures and backgrounds. So far this year, we have celebrated Chinese New Year and St. Patrick’s Day in the MCR, along with an international food potluck, prepared by MCR members. This year, we are hoping to have an international potluck each term to celebrate food from around the world, and an international folk games night alongside one of the upcoming potlucks. We will be celebrating a few more cultural events during the year, like Diwali in the fall, as well as organising international movie nights and hopefully some tasting events.

Opening a Bank Account

Do this as soon as possible, as it usually takes a while for a bank to open an account and for relevant cards, PIN numbers, cheque books etc to come through. It’s worth researching the schemes the various banks have to offer students, in particular rates of interest on student loans and pay-back periods. Some banks are more willing to open accounts for overseas students than others, so it is worth checking out that which each bank can offer.

Remember to take along the relevant documents:

  • Passport
  • University registration letters
  • Accommodation letter from the College stating your residential address. However, it is advisable to send all your correspondences to the College Porters’ Lodge than your residential address.
  • Confirmation letter about the sources of funding (e.g. letter from your sponsor, award, etc) / Bank Draft.

Check the types of identification that the bank requires before going along to open an account.

When to Buy Necessities

Buying things in the UK is very expensive for overseas student. Hence, it is worth asking whether the shop offers any student discount (you will need to show your CUSU card or the International Student ID, ISIC). The International Student Card (ISIC) is available at STA (near Sainsburys).

You can probably find some cheap kitchen equipment, duvets, bed linen, desk lamps etc in Argos (next to the Grafton Centre).

The Graduate Union sho is also a good source of many items. Also try the University advertisement site, which offers many items for sale or free.

You can get some nice posters from Athena, HMV and Virgin.
You can get stationery from WH Smith on Market Street at a reasonable price with student offers. Rymans on Sidney Street offers a 10% student discount if you show a CUSU card or ISIC card. Other places are: Paperchase (Market Street), Staples on Chesterton Road and Heffers Stationery offer more “gift type” stationery.
International books, newspapers, magazines
International books, newspapers and magazines are available in Sainsburys, Waterstones, Borders and Heffers (opposite Trinity College).
Secondhand academic books
To get cheaper textbooks or other academic books, you can sometimes buy secondhand ones from your Department’s Library (e.g. Marshall Library in the Faculty of Economics and Politics).
Online Book Shops


College Food

Canteen Meals
Downing provides a canteen service; lunch and dinner are provided during the week and a reduced service operates at the weekends. Outside of term, provision varies. Food is typically of a reasonable standard, with several options, and fairly cheap.
Formal Hall
Formal Hall is probably the aspect of Cambridge that most corresponds to the Cambridge image: a three-course meal served by waiters in an ancient, candle-lit hall with sherry, wine and port. Formal wear (including an academic gown) is required, Grace is said at the beginning and end of the meal and the Fellows sit at a different table (High Table) than the students. The food is generally better than typical College food and Formal Hall is often a good way to get involved in college life and to see other colleges.
Kitchen Fixed Charge (KFC)
The KFC is a charge that some Colleges require graduate students to pay as a contribution towards the overhead costs of catering. Downing’s policy is to charge £50 per term for those living in College accomodation and £30 per term for those living out.
The main supermarkets in central Cambridge are Sainsbury’s on Sidney Street and, for a pricier alternative, Marks and Spencer’s on Market Square. Larger supermarkets can be found slightly further afield:

  • Asda – Beehive Centre, Coldhams Lane
  • Sainsburys – Brooks Road
  • Tesco – Newmarket Road
  • Waitrose – Hauxton Road, Trumpington

There are several speciality shops selling Asian, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern foods along Mill Road. Kosher and Indian ingredients can be obtained from Nasreen Dar Halal Supermarket, 20 Histon Road and Halal and Afro-Caribean food from The Al-Amin Grocers, 100-102a Mill Road (Tel: 01223 576396/7).

There are dozens of restaurants and pubs that serve food in Cambridge. Some useful websites are and

Grants, Funding, Studentships and Bursaries

For all international students

The following publications may be of use to you in searching for funding:

  • Awards for Postgraduate Study at Commonwealth Universities – published by the Association of Commonwealth Universities
  • The British Council
  • Charities Digest – published by Waterlow Legal Publishing
  • Directory of Grant Making Trusts – Published by the Charities Aid Foundation
  • The Educational Grants Directory – published by the Directory of Social Change
  • The Fulbright Commission (for American students only): or
  • The Grants Register – published by the Macmillan Press
  • Money to Study: the Complete Guide to Student Finance – published by the Family Welfare Association, 501-505 Kingsland Road, Dalston, London, E8 4AU
  • The Awards Edition of the Cambridge University Reporter – published by the University of Cambridge around November each year.
  • The Rotary Club
  • The Spalding Trust – awards are offered for research on comparative interfaith projects: write to The Secretary, The Spalding Trust, PO Box 85, Stowmarket IP14 3NY

Many of these publications should be available in Libraries or British Council Offices and contain information about funding sources for prospective graduate students.

For Applicants Ordinarily Resident in the EU

  • Enquiries about nomination for Research Council Studentships should be made direct to the Faculty or Department concerned.
  • Application forms for Arts and Humanities Research Board Studentships may be obtained from or from College Tutors in the case of EU applicants and students aready at Cambridge and, in the case of other UK applicants, from the university to which you currently belong. If you intend to apply for AHRB Studentships you should submit your applications for admission as early as possible and certainly no later than 15 February. The eligibility of students normally resident in EU countries outside the UK is restricted to the Fee elements of Research Council and AHRB awards.
  • The University offers Domestic Research Studentships and Millennium Scholarships for prospective research students nominated by their Faculty or Department. Awards are for incoming students only and provide for fees and maintenance awards for UK students. Domestic Research Studentships are open to UK graduates and to EU graduates who will be considered for a fees only award. Millennium Scholarships are available for UK students only. Students should ask to be considered for nomination by their Faculty or Department from whom application forms are available from February. Students hoping to be nominated must also apply for a public award (e.g. AHRB, ESRC) as a condition of eligibility. The University shares the cost of Domestic Research Studentships with a number of Colleges. Students gaining a shared DRS-College award will have half their costs paid by the College. Applilicants for Part III of the Mathematical Tripos classified as ‘home’ students for fees purposes who have graduated after three years at Cambridge and who have taken Part II of th Mathematical or Natural Sciences Tripos will normally be eligible for fee and loan support through their LEA if they have previously been eligible for such support; applicants in similar circumstances who are classified as EU students for fee purposes will normally be eligible for fee support but not loan support. Graduates from other universities must normally find their own funding. Similarly, applicants for the Diploma in Architecture who have graduated after three years at Cambridge and who intend to take the Diploma as part of a five-year course qualifying for exemption from both Part 1 and Part 2 of the RIBA examination will normally be eligible for fee and, where relevant, loan support through their LEA if they have previously been eligible for such support; applicants from other universities must normally seek funding from other sources.
  • Information about Career Development Loans can be obtained from UK banks or by calling 0800 585 505.
  • Information about EU funding can be obtained from:

University Scholarships and Prizes

These are published in the University Reporter every November. See the website here.

  • Loans
    This is to assist students who, through unavoidable changes in their circumstances, are unable to complete their university course. These are only grants to graduates in exceptional circumstances but you should be aware of their existence.
  • Crane Benefaction
    This is the principal medical charity in the university. It provides financial assistance to members of the university who need treatment for physical or mental illness or for treatment resulting from accidents, provided that the treatment cannot be provided by the NHS. Applications can be made at any time and must be made through Tutors.
  • Students with Children
    The University Central Childcare Bursary Scheme makes grants to students to help them meet childcare costs. Contact CUSU or the University Registry for application forms.
  • Students with Disabilities
    Tutors should be the first port of call for disabled students in financial difficulty or contact the Disability Resource Centre, Keynes House, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, CB2 1QA, Telephone: 01223 332301, Textphone: 01223 766840, Fax: 01223 766863, E-mail:

Part-time jobs in College

If you need some extra pocket money, you may want to work part-time in the library as a Library Supervisor. The per-hour rate is £5.73/hr+$0.62 holiday pay/hr. It is not hard work and you have time to study while you are on duty. If you are interested, please contact the librarian. You can also work part-time in the college bar from either 8.30pm or 9.30pm until 11.30pm during term time. You would be asked to work at least one shift every 10 days with an hourly rate of £4.10. During the examination period for the undergraduates, you can also earn some extra pocket money as an Invigilator in the College. The Tutorial and Admissions Office will send out an email on this sometime in April / May.


Network Telephones

The University is linked by its own telephone network. To make a call from one network phone to another, simply dial the extension number, which is normally a five digit number. For example, if you come across a telephone number given as (3)33312, it means that it is part of the University network and you only have to dial the last 5 digits if you are dialling from a telephone within the network. Callers from outside the network will have to dial the extra preceding digit. Calls from within the network are free. From some of these network phones, calls may also be made to non-networked phones both within and outside the UK. Restrictions are placed on each extension, which limit the range of outgoing calls.

External Telephones

There are many companies which provide telephone connections through their own network. The main telephone company in the UK is British Telecom, but it will be worthwhile to shop around in order to obtain the best student package available. NTL customers can call University network numbers free of charge.

GU Phonecard

The GU sells its own phonecard, which costs £17 and includes £8 worth of free calls on top of that. You get £25 worth of phone calls for £17, making the phonecard a very worthwhile investment. Any time you want to place a call through the card, you dial a free phone number and the company will arrange your international calls at their rate. These rates are usually much cheaper than any regular service provider. More information can be obtained from the Graduate Union reception regarding phone rates to different countries.

ntl Phones

The University has an agreement with ntl that allows students to have a phone line in their own College room. For an initial payment of £10, you can connect to ntl and have a phone line with free calls to other ntl phones, voicemail and call waiting, for £7.50 a month. More information can be found on the NTL website.

CU2 Phones

Graduate students are also able to get a CU2 extension, which can be particularly useful for students not living in College accomodation. A CU2 extension emulates a standard home telephone line. However, by dialling a two digit feature access code (*1), the user is automatically connected into Cambridge University’s Telephone Network (UTN), where free of charge calls can be made and received from University extension users and other CU2 users and free of charge calls can also be made to the University Data Network dial up service (Magpie). By dialling *1 and additional codes you will also be able to make calls to other organisations who are connected to the University Voice Network, e.g. Addenbrookes Hospital. CU2 users can make normal out going calls which are billed directly to the individual account holder by ntl. Discounts which have been previously negotiated with the University Telecommunications Office will apply to all CU2 users. More information can be found” and

Mobile Phones

Mobile phones are very popular; most students have one. There are five main networks in the UK (O2, Orange, Three, T-Mobile and Vodafone), all of which offer a dazzling array of options. Fortunately, these options fall into two main camps:

  • Pay as you go – Pay as you go offers you an easy way to use a mobile phone. There’s no contract to sign, there are no monthly bills and there’s no commitment. You simply buy a pay as you go mobile, activate it by making a call and buy calling credit as often as you need to. Pay as you go offers the advantage of avoiding a long-term commitment, but the initial cost of the phone will be more higher, you will tend to have higher call charges and you will miss out on some services.
  • Pay monthly – Paying monthly for a mobile phone lets you avoid the worry of running out of credit whilst offering you the advantages of itemised monthly bills and services that aren’t available to pay as you go customers. When you buy a pay monthly mobile, you’ll be asked to sign an agreement form that commits you to staying connected for a 12-month minimum period and will arrange to pay your monthly bills by direct debit. In return, you’ll pay a much lower subsidised price for your mobile phone and call charges will tend to be less. However, you will be tied in for a year and will have to pay line rental.

Before you buy a phone, it is best to think about how much you will use it, what kind of numbers you will call, the time of day you will make calls etc and then find a price plan that fits your needs best.


Air travel

The UK has a fairly deregulated air industry and as a result several low cost carriers have appeared in recent years. If you book well in advance or look out for special offers, registering on their mailing lists, you can travel around the UK and Europe for very little. These include:


Owning a car

Undergraduates are not usually allowed to keep cars or motorcycles in Cambridge without special permission. Graduates under 24 must also obtain a certificate through their Tutor and a University license from the Motor Proctor, who is based at:
Motor Control Office
22 Trumpington Street
Tel: 01223 (3)33310.

Any member in statu pupillari, unless holding MA status (essentially being over 24), who keeps, hires or uses a motorcycle or car (mopeds are exempt) within the precincts of the University without permission from the Motor Proctor can be fined 175. Permission from the Motor Proctor does not constitute permission to park in any Colleges or University grounds. Under the terms of the Motor Proctor’s license, students agree to park their cars in a private off-street parking space. Similar restrictions apply to graduates under 24 keeping a boat on the River Cam.

Car Parking

Some Colleges are able to provide car parking along with accommodation, although many can or will not. Colleges may charge for the use of a parking space, which can be up to 200 a year depending on the College.

If you are accommodated in College owned houses or rent in the private sector it is quite likely that you will live in a ‘Residents parking zone’ area, where to park on the road you must obtain a permit for around 50 a year from the local council (visit Customer and Support Services reception in the Guildhall, Market Square). To obtain the permit you must produce prove ownership with your vehicle logbook, have your driving license registered to the Cambridge address and have proof of residency at the address in the form of a rental contract or a stamped letter from the College as landlord.

Driving legally

Overseas students who wish to drive whilst in this country must take out a provisional driving license within one year of becoming resident here, unless they have previously passed a UK driving test or have held a full UK license during the last ten years. If you own a car in Britain you must legally have the car registered in your name on the logbook, have insurance, have valid road tax and, if it is over 3 years old, a valid MOT certificate. The university takes a very dim view of it’s members endangering others’ lives and commiting criminal offenses by not abiding by these laws. Not only can you get a hefty fine but a police record.

Car Hire

There are many companies that hire cars. Try

Coaches and Buses

The coach station is located on Drummer Street. From here you can catch coaches to hundreds of UK and European destinations, timetable information can be found at If you’re aged 16-25 or a full time student, you can buy a Student/Young Person Discount Coachcard (£10 for one year, £19 for three), giving you savings of up to 30% on many National Express coaches.

There is also an extensive local bus network, serving many locations in Cambridge and local towns and villages, more information can be found at


Some graduates, especially those with families to accommodate, choose to live outside the city where accommodation is cheaper. If you intend to do so you should consider your transport options carefully, especially as to whether there is a good bus service. Public car parking in Cambridge costs upwards of 20 a day and many departments and Colleges do not have the capacity to allow graduates to park on-site. There is a good park and ride service, whereby you park your car on the city outskirts for free and then pay to take one of the bus shuttles provided, this can be very good option if you are receiving day visitors to Cambridge, although beware that the car parks close at night.


The classic image of Cambridge sees gown-wearing students cycling to lectures. Although wearing a gown while cycling is no longer compulsory (and indeed is somewhat dangerous) cycling remains the most popular method of transport within our very crowded, and very ancient, city.

A few legal points regarding cycling: In the UK, it is illegal to cycle at night without a front and rear light. Flashing LEDs are recommended, as they make cycles more visible on lit streets. It is equally important to have amber reflectors on pedals and red reflectors on the rear. The police regularly fine people for cycling without lights or proper reflectors; it’s also supremely dangerous. More information can be found from the guidance page from the Department of Transport and the text of the Law.This web page also contains useful information.

It is illegal to ride your bike on the pavement, additionally many streets in Cambridge are one way and you can only legally cycle in one direction. For maximum confusion, there are also several streets (e.g. Downing Street) which are one-way for cars, but have a contraflow cycle lane, so you can cycle in either direction. Inconsiderate and illegal cycling often leads to aggressive responses from the public which all cyclists then suffer from.

Wearing a cycle helmet isn’t a legal requirement (but is probably a good idea!). If you’re going to buy one, make sure it has a British Standard kitemark. Many Colleges operate a scheme whereby cycle helmets can be bought at cost price or you can claim the cost of a helmet back. It is worth asking your MCR if this is the case. You can also buy cycle helmets and lights at the Freshers’ Fair.

There are many shops in Cambridge that sell and repair bikes. At the start of every term, the Police hold an auction of recovered stolen bikes – look for posters around town. To avoid having your bike stolen in the first place, always lock it to an immovable object. D-locks tend to be the most effective. Certain areas of town tend to be bad for theft and vandalism of bikes – try to leave your bike in a secure bike rack, preferably in a secure area. Colleges issue numbers to paint on your bike, to help identify it if it is stolen – this is usually run by the Porters. You should also keep a record of the frame number, and ideally get it written on your receipt when you buy a bike, so that if there’s later any dispute you can prove that you own it.


Taxis are a convenient, albeit expensive, way to get around. Regular taxis can only legally carry four people so if there are more of you you need to request a people carrier. There is usually an additional charge for items of luggage. Taxis carry a council license number, the driver should have an identification card and all taxis should display a list of fares, these vary and are higher at night and on bank holidays. Some taxi numbers are:

  • Panther 715715
  • Cabco 711111
  • Camtax 313131

Taxi ranks can be found at Drummer Street, Emmanuel Street, the train station and St Andrews Street, although they are not all in use 24 hours a day. You may have to wait a long time for a taxi (particularly on Friday and Saturday nights) so don’t get left on your own expecting a taxi to miraculously appear.


Cambridge’s train station is located just south of the city centre, at the end of the imaginatively titled Station Road. There is a fast and regular service to London and many trains to local destinations, but trains to other UK cities are mostly slow, irregular and often involve changes. Train tickets and timetable information can be obtained from, it is usually cheaper to buy tickets this way. If you’re aged 16-25 or a full time student, you can buy a Young Persons Railcard (£18 for one year), giving you a third off most rail fares anywhere in Britain.


Cambridge is a pleasant city to walk around, and small enough to make walking a practical alternative to cycling/cars/taxis. Use your common sense though – like all cities there are muggings, drunken assults and the odd rape/sexual attack, especially late at night around quiet or open areas. Don’t be stupid – get a taxi, walk home in a group, go to the nearest College if being followed, get your free personal attack alarm from your welfare officer. Find out where the less salubrious areas are before walking through them. Wearing your college scarf/boat club sweater around certain areas of North Cambridge is essentially an advert for trouble!

Storage/Shipping things home


There is a store in the College for you to put your things over the summer vacation. Please find out more about this from the Porters’ Lodge.

Shipping Things Home

Advance Forwarding
Package: 15% discount off total cost in shipping or storage services Up to 50% discounts for a group of ten traveling altogether.

Excess Baggage
Package: 15% discount off total shipping cost. Further discounts in transport cost if group collection is arranged by students (strongly encouraged).

Seaspace International
Package: 10% discount off total shipping cost. This discount does not apply to any applicable UK Import Duties and Taxes; this discount will only apply to shipments paid for directly to Seaspace International UK.

How to extend my stay as a student?

Seek advice from Home Office

What’s on in Cambridge?