Frequently Asked Questions

Coming to Cambridge and settling in college often raises a lot of questions. Once you're here, it's also crucial to know how you can influence your circumstances to be the best they can be. This is a list of information and advice that we think will be helpful to any prospective or current Lucy student, divided into several sections:

Students' Union
College life

Events and social stuff
Clubs and societies
International students
IT and communication

Is there anything you think should be added here? We would be happy to hear from you.


What characterises a Lucy student?

The beauty of Lucy is that there's no real answer to this question. We are 370 students from over 60 countries, and many have done gap-years, work experience or even have full careers behind them. There are fascinating life stories everywhere. What we do have in common is that we're all outstanding women who are resourceful enough to be accepted to Cambridge.

Being a mature college, what is the average age of a Lucy student?

The age limit to count as a mature student is currently 21. Following this, the Lucy student average age is 22.

How does Lucy compare to other colleges in terms of academic performance?

If you've used Google to make college comparisons, you will most likely have noticed a thing called the Tompkins Table. This is a ranking system between Cambridge colleges based on the class marks of a colleges' students, which has been widely criticised. Nonetheless, Lucy climbed three places last year and had some of our students be top of their year. In certain subjects such as HSPS, Lucy students are known to be among the strongest in the university. This fall we'll be welcoming four Gates Scholars and our fellows and students continue to win prizes, such as best performance in a paper, best dissertation, and best research presentation. There is a clear upward trend in academic performance within the college.

The college and SU are currently collating a list of student achievement and prizes for the college's main website that will give you a better idea of our achievements. Have you won a prize that you'd like to be included? Please contact Kate Coghlan.

What is the Lucy standard of teaching like?

Once you get accepted to Cambridge, your degree is organised through the university faculties and departments rather than through college. This means that all Cambridge students get the same level of education. You will have a college-based Director of Studies who assigns your supervisors, but these supervisors can come from all colleges. Nonetheless, having a Lucian teaching you is a privilege; our staff have won several uni-wide teaching prizes, such as best supervisorbest lecturer, and the Pilkington Prize for outstanding teaching.

Is Lucy Cavendish friends with any of the other Colleges?

Yes! Lucy is known to be friend with the other mature colleges in Cambridge, but we are increasingly reaching out and bonding with more colleges. At the moment, we have several joint societies with other colleges, including a boat club and badminton society with Hughes Hall. We also organise a joint May Ball with Hughes at the end of the year. Formal Hall swaps are hosted on a regular basis all around town, including Christs, Emmanuel, Sidney Sussex and Magdalene. Other colleges' members are also known to come to our bops and social events, which have garnered a great reputation (read more below).

Students' Union

What is a JCR or MCR and how is the SU different?

JCRs and MCRs are just like our student union, but divided into undergrads and graduate committees. Because we are a mature college, we find that we have more in common than not, which is why we have decided to combine our JCR and MCR into a joint Students' Union.

Why do you have a grad rep if it's a joint SU, since you don't have an undergrad rep?

We do have a Graduate Representative, but this is mainly to reflect the fact that our community consists of a majority of grads, and to make sure your views and needs are represented. We find this can be especially important since many grads currently don't live on-site, which means some may therefore be less vocal in the daily running of the college. We are working for this to not be the case, and we hope you will make your thoughts known. When it comes to the committee, all Lucy students are very welcome to apply for any SU role!

How do you become a member of the SU?

All Lucy students are automatically made members of the SU. If you'd like to opt out, or if you have any feedback to give us, please let us know.

How do you apply for an SU position?

You apply for an SU position by submitting a manifesto outlining what role you're applying for, why you're suited to the role and what your ideas are for how to contribute to the SU and student life. You must stick to the deadline set by the President, which will be announced in the newsletter and on our news page. Once your manifesto has been submitted, you will be invited to make a speech at Hustings which all Lucians are invited to attend. The elections are then held electronically using CUSU's main election services.

When are SU elections held?

Executive positions are filled in Lent term and non-executive ones in Michaelmas. This is to ensure a smooth handover and continuity, while making sure one-year students are able to join the SU.

How do I vote in an SU election?

Elections are held electronically using CUSU's main election services. Follow our newsletter and news page for links to the voting pages.

How do I bring up something for discussion in the SU?

There are a couple of ways to bring items up for discussion. One way is to contact an officer or give an anonymous suggestion which can then be brought up in a meeting. Another is to get help from an officer in handing in a proposal for discussion in an open meeting. If you have a substantial matter that you'd like to get college-wide input on, you can trigger a referendum. This requires 60 signatures from Lucy students who are members of the SU, and can be presented by using the proposal template and sending it to the internal communications officer.

Accessing forms and templates requires a login password, which is the same as the member's login for the college main website. Contact our internal communications officer if you have any trouble accessing the page.

How can I give the SU my opinion and feedback?

You can either contact an individual officer or give us your anonymous/general feedback through our contact form. You can also attend our open meetings where you'll be able to vote on proposals and have an impact.

How is the SU funded, and how much money do we have?

The SU is funded through a grant from college of £5000 a term. We also make a small amount of money from selling merchandise and renting out SU beds. Our finance officer is responsible for creating and maintaining the budget, which is presented and approved in an open meeting.

What does the SU fund?

The SU funds initiatives brought forward by SU officers and college-based clubs and societies.

How do I apply for funding?

If you have something you would like to finance for the benefit of Lucy students, which aligns with the SU's purpose and vision, you can contact a relevant SU officer and put forward a proposal together. You can't bring a funding proposal to the SU without the support of an SU officer, unless you are a representative of a recognised club or society. All funding proposals must follow the funding guidelines brought forward by the finance officer.

Accessing forms and templates requires a login password, which is the same as the member's login for the college main website. Contact our internal communications officer if you have any trouble accessing the page.

College Life

Can I borrow beds for guests staying overnight in my room?

Yes! The SU has five portable beds which you can borrow for a maximum of three nights for £3 per night, or £10 for three nights. Ask at the Porters’ Lodge – they are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Can I buy Lucy Cavendish branded items and clothing?

Yes! Various items, from t-shits and hoodies to sweets and pens, are available at the Porters’ Lodge. We on the SU have a special responsibility for sweatshirts, which we are just in the process of ordering and selling as part of the upcoming college merchandise webshop. Reach out to our finance officer for any merch-related questions.


Have a look at our separate welfare page which outlines how you can get help and be supported in college. If you are living with a disability, please have a look here.

Events and social stuff

Where can I find out what social events are happening in college?

Check your printed term card which we leave in your pigeon hole each term, or check out our events page.

Who organises college events?

Luckily, there are many Lucians who are keen to make Lucy a social space. In the SU, the ents (entertainments) team is always a main port of contact for events planning, but many SU officers plan events within their different areas. The college also plans college-wide events such as the annual Garden Party, which includes alumni and other guests. The college has an events committee that meets up every term to discuss college events.

How can I organise an event?

If you have an idea for an event, you can get in touch with a relevant SU officer and she can help you make it a reality. If you are interested in SU funding, the relevant officer may be able to bring forward a funding proposal for you.

Consider applying for a position on the SU!

We also think it's crucial for college to host their own events, especially in exam term. If you have ideas for welfare events you can go straight to the senior tutor.

What are "bops", and who are they for?

Bops are themed college parties, short for "big organised party". Lucy is actually getting quite well-known for these - we have lately reached maximum capacity with queues outside, had our themes stolen (we take it as a compliment), and others cancel their bops to come to ours instead. Most of the people who attend our bops are MCR members from other colleges, meaning they are not 17-year-olds undergrads who come to hook up. Most colleges host MCR bops and we are no different. Bops are open to everyone - grads and undergrads, singles and couples alike.

How often is the college bar open?

Check out our bar page for more information.

What is formal hall?

Formal hall is a formal dinner hosted once a week in the dining hall, featuring gowns, gongs and a latin prayer (very Cambridge). These are part of the unique Cambridge experience, and some even try to attend a formal at all 31 colleges during their time here.

How do I join a formal swap?

Check out our formal swap page. You might also like to join the Cambridge Formal Marketplace Facebook group for some independent formal planning.

Does Lucy have any special traditions or events?

We do! If you haven't yet started your degree, you will get a full run-down of events during summer, before coming to the annual Freshers' Week.

What are May Balls and June Events? 

The go-to website is here. Colleges and Societies often organise a ball or a party at the end of the academic year, usually in June. The May Ball is the most high profile kind of event in Cambridge, usually with black tie dress code. They provide live music and other sorts of entertainment and usually last until early hours of morning (notably featuring a "survival photo" of those that last the whole night). For undergrads, May Balls take place right after exams but before results are published, which makes for a great party atmosphere. June Events and Garden Parties are a smaller-scale and more affordable version of May Balls, but they are still great to attend. Not all colleges hosts events like these.

Does Lucy Cavendish have a May Ball?

Yes! In 2016, Lucy Cavendish and Hughes Hall started a new tradition of organising a joint event: Come What May. This kind of College partnership is unique in Cambridge. Make sure to get your ticket in time - we are looking forward to seeing all of you there and celebrating the end of the academic year together!

Clubs and Societies

How do I join an existing club or society?

For college-based societies, have a look at our clubs and societies page where you can get in touch with their respective contact person. For uni-wide societies, have a look at CUSU's (Cambridge University Students' Union) directory for a full outline of what societies you can join and their contact details, ranging from unicorns to advertising to engineering and board games.

Every Michaelmas term, CUSU and the SU hosts a Freshers' Fair that will introduce you to new societies and enable you to sign up. Societies usually operate through mailing lists, so those are the ones you'll want to sign up to.

How do I start a club or society?

The SU is very keen to help you set up a college-based club or society. Congrats on your creativity! According to our constitution, you must first elect a President, Vice President and Treasurer, then provide us with a constitution of your own, along with a yearly budget, and follow the funding guidelines put forward by the SU finance officer. We have a sports and societies officer to help you get started, or you can reach out to the finance officer or vice president.

Accessing forms and templates requires a login password, which is the same as the member's login for the college main website. Contact our internal communications officer if you have any trouble accessing the page.

How can I apply for funding as a club and society?

The SU accepts funding proposals from all recognised clubs and societies. In order to be recognised, you must provide us with your constitution and yearly budget, as well as the name and contact details of your current officers. You must also host an Annual General Meeting each year and provide us with the minutes from that meeting. All proposals should follow the SU template and funding guidelines, and can only be discussed at open meetings.

Accessing forms and templates requires a login password, which is the same as the member's login for the college main website. Contact our internal communications officer if you have any trouble accessing the page.

International students

Is there a checklist of everything I need to have figured out before starting my degree?

This mega pdf from the University will be really helpful, or this international freshers guide put together by our international officer.

What is Lucy like as a college for international students?

Lucy is a dream for internationals, given its highly diverse groups of students and perspectives. We're 370 students from 60 counties studying here, and our SU executive committee is 100% international (with backgrounds ranging from Egypt to Finland to Malaysia and China). This is one of Lucy's unique strengths.

What are the conventions of academic English? How can I polish my language skills to make sure I’m not held back by the language itself?

The university Language Centre has created a bunch of resources for polishing your language skills and learning about academic conventions. Try looking at this and this first. Once you're in Cambridge, you have the option to attend a supplementary course in academic English. Here is an outline of what they offer. We would recommend giving your English a go without enrolling in the first few weeks, to see how it goes. You will get the hang of it over time!

College can also offer some writing skills tutorial sessions. Get in touch with your tutor to ask what your options are. If you're unsure who your tutor is, log on to CamSIS and click Other Information > Advisors.

What is the nature of Cambridge academic work?

Before coming here you may wonder what the system looks like, what the nature of a student-supervisor relationship is, and whether the lecturers will asking any uncomfortable (albeit stimulating) questions. Check this out for a run-though of the British academic system. Once in Cambridge, you will be able to attend four Cambridge 101 Survival Sessions organised by the SU in Freshers’ Week and throughout the year, the first of which is specifically aimed at exploring how the academic system works from a student’s perspective.

Where can I find friends from home while at Cambridge?

There are plenty of international students in Cambridge and many are keen to find others from their home country. A good place to start is by joining a regional society or attending the International Freshers' Week. We host several international events in college as well!

How are international students represented in the university at large?

The university has a specifically international Students' Union called iCUSU. They organise things like the annual International Freshers' Week.

How do I open a UK bank account as an international student?

Have a look at pages 9-10 in the University pre-arrival document for an overview of what the different banks can offer. You will need a permanent UK address and a letter from college to open your account, meaning you will have to wait until you’ve moved to Cambridge. A letter confirming your student status and address can be had from the college Tutorial Office at college registration.

How do I pay my college invoices with an international account?

The college provides a bill payment page where you can pay with international credit/debit cards. You can also transfer money directly to the colleges’ bank account, or write them a cheque. The college is not able to facilitate any personal transfers, e.g. by having your parents send money to the college directed at you. The college only handles your payments of college fees.

What’s the difference between paying my university fees via the Student Loan Company (SLC) versus an institution in my home country? 

If you are planning on paying your university fees with an SLC loan, the University will invoice the SLC directly in termly instalments. This means you will not have to involve yourself in the actual payment of the fees, once your loan has been approved. However, if you are paying your university fees by other means, you will need to arrange a payment plan with the college and pay your invoices personally. Contact the Lucy finance department to set up a plan, or with any other questions you may have relating to the payment of your fees.

What is the best way of transferring money to the UK?

The best thing is probably to check this with your bank. There are alternative services available, such as TransferWise, which can be good for smaller transfers with fixed exchange rates.

Do I need a visa to study at Cambridge?

Have a look at page 29-31 in the University pre-arrival document for more information.

How do I apply for an EU Cambridge Bursary?

The Cambridge bursaries are currently handled by the Student Loan Company (SLC). Click here for more information.

What about Brexit? What happens now?

Brexit took Cambridge by surprise, and there has been much discussion on what this means for the future of international students. The University has made it clear that EU students commencing their studies in the academic year 2017/18 will not be subject to a raise in university fees. In other words, your fees as an EU fresher this year will remain the same as “home” students. Government has yet to vote on the fees for 2019 onwards.

Here is the latest statement on Brexit from the Cambridge vice-chancellor, including links to more information.

IT and communication

What is a pigeon hole?

This is your physical mailbox in college, which you'll be assigned when you get here.

How do I access my Cambridge email and Raven password?

Have a look at this for more information or contact the IT staff in college.

How do I subscribe to the SU newsletter?

We send out our newsletter to all students on the Lucy Cavendish mailing lists, which means you will be added automatically. If you haven't received our emails, reach out to our internal communications officer who will help sort it out for you.

How do mailing lists work for Lucy Cavendish? 

All students are subscribed to one of the College mailing lists: lcc-ugs and lcc-pgs. Most students are also part of the SU mailing list: lcc-su. If you would like to email all Lucy students – for example, if you have any spare Formal Hall tickets – you may use the SU mailing list (append to obtain the email address). All emails are subject to moderation. However, it's usually best to use the Lucy Students Facebook group.

How do I add something to the SU newsletter?

Reach out to our internal communications officer with your request and we'll be happy to consider it for the newsletter.

How do I separate Lucy emails from university emails in my Cambridge inbox?

Luckily, we have an IT expert in college who can answer this for you. If you would like to separate your Lucy Cavendish emails from your other emails, you can set filters for incoming mails. Log in to Hermes Webmail, go to Settings -> Folders and make a new folder called, for example, “LucyCav”. Then go to Mail Processing -> Filters and enter Filter on Sender: (or lcc*@* for all Lucy Cavendish mailing lists), Target Mailbox “LucyCav” and click “Add filter”. All emails from the selected addresses will from now on bypass your inbox and go directly into the LucyCav folder.