Son's thinking of going to Cambridge University, expensive?

brad123

Well-known Member
OK so my step sons 16, doing A Levels, good at Maths. We've been talking about Uni as he wants to go after his A levels to study something to do with Maths. Tonight he's thrown into the mix he want to go to Cambridge Uni maybe. This has thrown us a little and personally worried me it would cost a fortune in fees plus living expenses like accommodation etc and we aren't really made of money nowadays we get by. Wife says oh it's no more expensive then say Newcastle or Liverpool he was thinking of going to but surely it must be.

I'm getting premonitions of texts every other day asking for money which we simply don't have!
 

rousetafarian

Moderator
OK so my step sons 16, doing A Levels, good at Maths. We've been talking about Uni as he wants to go after his A levels to study something to do with Maths. Tonight he's thrown into the mix he want to go to Cambridge Uni maybe. This has thrown us a little and personally worried me it would cost a fortune in fees plus living expenses like accommodation etc and we aren't really made of money nowadays we get by. Wife says oh it's no more expensive then say Newcastle or Liverpool he was thinking of going to but surely it must be.

I'm getting premonitions of texts every other day asking for money which we simply don't have!
£10k a year for the fees...plus rent, food, life-experiences, travel, materials I'd hazard a guess a £20k year without blinking.

Mind you it could be him lumped with a sizeable loan I suppose for many years post-graduating I suppose.
 

sbriggs

Active Member
You maybe could look for scholarships , his school may be able to help with that

my ex’s son went to oxford, just got a first, they weren’t loaded and had to apply for scholarships and assistance but the doors it has and will open are incredible

it really isn’t much different from other universities with regard to cost.

just remember student loan debt should not be seen as the same as normal debt whatever the size
 

hippo99

Distinguished Member
The main cost will be the rent. Travel he can walk/bike most everywhere. Other costs will be similar wherever he goes.
You could maybe do a search of student accommodation costs in the respective cities to see the likely costs.

The main obstacle is getting in, so it really depends on how good his grades are (not just for Maths).
 

sbriggs

Active Member
Just checked and Cambridge are the same as oxford the individual colleges provide accommodation for at least the first year
 

rustybin

Distinguished Member
Cambridge isn't much more than most decent universities. It's all incredibly expensive regardless. And depending on what he wants to do moving forwards, Cambridge could open a lot of doors.

One of my sisters went to Oxford and the other went to Cambridge so I spent a fair amount of time there - it wasn't quite my cup of tea and it's quite a unique experience so he'd have to be sure it's for him.
 

sbriggs

Active Member
Cambridge isn't much more than most decent universities. It's all incredibly expensive regardless. And depending on what he wants to do moving forwards, Cambridge could open a lot of doors.

One of my sisters went to Oxford and the other went to Cambridge so I spent a fair amount of time there - it wasn't quite my cup of tea and it's quite a unique experience so he'd have to be sure it's for him.
I wholeheartedly agree with this, it will be a totally different student experience

a few examples (oxford at least)

they positively discourage taking any part time work during term time

different term lengths and holidays (shorter term)

very very hard work (hence the two above)
 

alistairg

Active Member
The fees are basically the same at all universities, which is ridiculous when you think about the variation in quality.

Cambridge is probably a more expensive place to live, so you might be talking 200 a month in extra rent, but other than that costs should be the same. Nando's is the same price everywhere!

What you have to think is the cost benefit. 5 years after leaving university the average Cambridge maths graduate earns £4k more than the average Newcastle graduate for example. So the extra cost would very quickly pay for itself. This website gives figures for the extra earnings by course/university.

 

DIYlady

Distinguished Member
My son went to Cambridge (computer science). I don’t think it was any worse costs wise than elsewhere. The term times tend to be a bit shorter, which can give more opportunities regarding a job over the summer.

It is a college system and the colleges have different characters. They also have different accommodation policies. Eg some colleges allow students to retain their rooms for the holidays others don’t, some guarantee college accommodation for the whole of the degree course, some prioritise second year room allocation based on academic performance, others draw lots.

Most (all?) have cafeterias and there are limited options for self catering. Although all colleges have formal dinners, there is no compulsion to attend and I think most students only attend a certain number

Important to note is that accommodation fees vary between colleges, so check out individual college costs if this is important.

When applying to Cambridge, you can apply to a specific college - many do. If they don’t think you are suited to their college but worth a place, they will put you in the pool to be picked up by another college.

Bear in mind that, as well as A* in maths and further maths, he will also need to achieve 1 at both step 2 and step 3 If the school can’t teach him for this he will probably need a tutor. From memory the syllabus is not significantly different, but the questions require more independent thought and a greater understanding

Cambridge is probably the best place in the world for maths so if he has the talent he should go for it!
 

Cocksure

Well-known Member
A big thing to consider is like it or not we still live in a snobbish world. If your son can get into Cambridge then he will find a high paid job with easy once qualified, will have access to the old boys network etc, and will be 1st in line when applying for any jobs, which lets face it are going to be few and far between for the next 5 to 10 years.

Yes he will come out with a tonne of debt to his name, but you only pay that debt back subject to what you earn, and depending on what he studies he is likely to pay that debt back fast. If he goes to another Uni he will still have the same level of debt, but none of the advantages that going to O or C bring.

As to your financial concerns, Unis are one of the few times its beneficial to be as poor as possible, less money you have then the more loans etc that are available to the student. You have you standard tuition feel loans, but there are also hardship loans, living cost loans, special student bank loans etc. Plus the fact that the government is keen to encourage poorer students to the likes of C & O. In short Cambridge will be well setup to help him get all the finical help he needs.

Of course he needs to be offered a place 1st, but if your son is up to the level to get into it... :)
 

Cocksure

Well-known Member
Another option is would your son consider doing time in the service’s once he has his degree? If he would be prepared to do 7 years (I think) as an officer in the navy/army/RAF then they will give him a grant of 10 to 15k (not sure exact amount but its a lot). This would mean that he would come out of uni either debt free or close to it.

subject to being approved by the forces mind
 

nheather

Distinguished Member
My son and daughter have both gone through university, my son wasn’t interested in Oxbridge (ironically he probably stood the best chance), my daughter looked at both, chose Oxford but didn’t go in. My niece recently graduated from Cambridge.

So I have seen a lot of universities either because my children attended them or during application visits, including Cambridge.

One thing I noted about Cambridge is that the campus (halls) accommodation was much cheaper than any other university we looked at, significantly so. Also think that includes meals too - so cheaper with meals than other universities are without meals. The other difference is that they have enough campus for everyone so you will remain in halls throughout the whole study - most other universities guarantee the first year, kick you out in the second and might let you back in the third. I absolutely lived Cambridge when I looked round, if I could have my time again with that appreciation I would fight hard to get in.

One thing to note about Cambridge is that I am pretty sure that they have said that the whole of the coming academic year will be online. If that is true I feel so sorry for the students that have worked hard to gain a place. Being at university (especially the likes of Oxbridge) is a huge part of the experience, being forced to do an online degree will seem flat, never mind the hands on experience of the labs, libraries etc. Nothing wrong with online courses by the way, but when that is what you signed up for and were expecting.

Usually universities let you defer you offer for a year but that is up to each university, there is no hard and set rule. I can imagine many more students than usual will want to defer with many universities saying that they will be partially or fully online next academic year - add in the loss of overseas students, universities are going to be strapped for cash. Normally the number wanting to defer is tiny and manageable so they usually agree - I think this year might be different.

The other thing to bear in mind is the way that ‘loans’ (fees and maintenance) is that it becomes a tax, paying it back like a tax is impossible for most. So the amount you pay back is not influenced by how much you borrow - borrow £27k or £60k, the amount you will pay back will be the same (unless you come into some money to pay it back quickly).

The reason is that interest rate is very high (RPI + 3%) and the amount you pay back is very small - approx (salary - £25k) x 9%. Interest is applied while you are at university too so you think you have just borrowed £27k but by the end of the study that has become £30k. The thin is, unless you have a very high earning job, or you coming into some money, it will grow faster than you are paying it off. So many say to think if it as not a loan that needs to be paid back but as a tax of 9% of everything you earn above the average wage (around £25k at the moment). Also when its comes to buying houses, or getting car loans, lenders are not allowed to factor in your student loan so having one won’t prevent you borrowing money in future.

I’d say if your step son likes Cambridge then don’t worry about the loans, go for it. From what I saw it is a lovely place, it will certainly open doors in the future, and although there will be snobbery (private schools) there are more students from other backgrounds so it didn’t fee snobbish at all, and my niece would agree with this.

The only additional expense over other universities is that there is lots of tradition so occasions where you where gowns throughout, not just at graduation, and formal meals but this is easily offset by the much cheaper catered accommodation.

Just a shame that next year will be online (if that is true) I would be heartbroken in that situation.

Cheers,

Nigel
 
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phil t

Well-known Member
For math it is one of the best places in the world to study, with alumni such as Charles Babbage, Alan Turing and John Venn (Mr Venn diagram).

For anyone considering applying for such a prestigious establishment, suitable grades is a given.

So what's your sons differentiator, how will he stand out?

Now's the time to consider supporting activities, if he hasn't already done so.
This tends to be where private school kids are better prepared, as it is part and parcel of their school life.

All the best for your son.
 

nheather

Distinguished Member
For math it is one of the best places in the world to study, with alumni such as Charles Babbage, Alan Turing and John Venn (Mr Venn diagram).

For anyone considering applying for such a prestigious establishment, suitable grades is a given.

So what's your sons differentiator, how will he stand out?

Now's the time to consider supporting activities, if he hasn't already done so.
This tends to be where private school kids are better prepared, as it is part and parcel of their school life.

All the best for your son.
This is certainly true. While a lot, the majority, of Oxbridge students are from ordinary backgrounds the application success rate is much higher for private schools.

This isn’t as some would have it to do with discrimination (though I am sure there is some element of that just like there is some positive discrimination too) it is because they do better in the exams and more importantly do better in the interviews.

Is this because they are better - absolutely not - it is because they have been trained and prepared for the entrance.

In private schools you will be tutored to get in, given mock exams and interview and given feedback on results and how to improve.

At a secondary school, it is more “you are clever, you should consider Oxbridge” and given some basic information about to apply and the selection process but that is it.

So if your step-son is at a normal secondary be prepared for him to have to do a lot of work himself with your support to prepare. If he goes in unprepared then unless he is absolutely amazing and naturally charming and interesting or has some positive discriminator then his chances would be slim.

If he prepares he has every chance. I think a lot of the stories about discrimination in Oxbridge acceptances are totally unfounded.

Cheers,

Nigel
 
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DIYlady

Distinguished Member
re Cambridge interviews. What they look for more than anything (apart from capability) is a real enthusiasm for the subject. Not just “it was my best subject at school“. They also want students who have been able to do well at school and still had an active extra curricular life.

My son spent much of the interview discussing a system he had built.

There is no doubt Cambridge opens doors, though I’m not at all convinced of the existence of an old boy network anymore.
 

Sloppy Bob

Distinguished Member
In private schools you will be tutored to get in, given mock exams and interview and given feedback on results and how to improve.

You'll also get opportunities for extracurricular activities that would be much harder to find for "normal" school kids.

With a lot of the high-end Uni's it's about what you do outside of school as much as your grades. It's how you've applied yourself in the real world.
 

nheather

Distinguished Member
You'll also get opportunities for extracurricular activities that would be much harder to find for "normal" school kids.

With a lot of the high-end Uni's it's about what you do outside of school as much as your grades. It's how you've applied yourself in the real world.
Not really. Sure if you are some amazing rugby player or rower that might help, but unlike American Universities you need the academic skills too. And I'm not saying that the son of an Earl doesn't get a shoe-in but that is a small minority.

I am from a poor background with secondary education and went through the Oxford application back in 1982. I made it all the way through to the final interview which I made a complete mess of. The two main maths and science questions they asked I completely hacked up - very annoyed with myself afterwards because I knew the answers to both. I'm certain that if I had been calmer and answered those as I was able I would have got in - everything else was went well - also students from my college from the same background as me got in. Even back in 1982 I didn't get any sense of the bias that some people seem to think exists.

In my life since I have met plenty of people that went to Oxbridge, none of them were private-school educated.

I think you'll find that private-school educated students make up the minority at Oxbridge.

Cheers,

Nigel
 

ashenfie

Well-known Member
Accommodation within Cambridge, even for shared lets is like £700 a month. You might need to look at a slightly wider area for more affordable accommodation.
 

sbriggs

Active Member
College accommodation can be significantly lower than £700

From the university website
Living Costs 2019-20
Living Costs 2019-20
Accommodation (including any kitchen charges)
£110-£180 per week1
£130-£210 en suite, per week1
Living Costs 2019-20
College meals
£4-£7 per meal
 

Sloppy Bob

Distinguished Member
Not really. Sure if you are some amazing rugby player or rower that might help, but unlike American Universities you need the academic skills too. And I'm not saying that the son of an Earl doesn't get a shoe-in but that is a small minority.

Not so much sports and obviously your academic ability has to be top-grade.

But IME with my nieces they were very interested in any volunteering, jobs, social groups, and organisations you were involved with.
 

brad123

Well-known Member
Thanks guys great advice. TBH I'm not convinced he's suitable for Cambridge. All he does is sit in his room on his xbox, he has zero interests and doesn't show any self motivation or pro-activeness in life. He's in his top 5% in maths in his group but thats not enough we've told him. He does tend to be very lazy and it's caused many an argument and his attitude is oh I'm not doing extra school work or handing my work in early thats geeky.

He's very young for his age in everyway, motivation, self hygiene, understanding whats right and wrong etc. He turns down chances to do things so he can play on his xbox. I've already said that side of him alone will stop him getting in.
 

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