At Cambridge

  • Welcome dinner
Your time at Cambridge will be full of intellectual, social, cultural and professional development opportunities.

Being a Gates Cambridge Scholar at the University of Cambridge is stimulating and engaging experience. Alongside your degree you will have numerous opportunities for personal and professional growth and the opportunity to develop an international and diverse network of friends and colleagues. Whether these opportunities present themselves through your department, your College or the Gates Cambridge community you can be sure of a truly vibrant Cambridge experience.   

The following gives you a glimpse of what life is like as a Gates Cambridge Scholar.


In many ways, communities at Cambridge can be thought of as a Venn diagram - equally important, overlapping networks which offer a rich and diverse Cambridge experience. 

The Gates Cambridge community

The Gates Cambridge community in Cambridge is a vibrant, diverse, open and passionate community. It centres around the ideals of the programme: intellectual rigour, leadership and a commitment to improving the lives of others.

It is also a busy community: there are numerous events throughout the year - from orientation for new Scholars to a Graduation Dinner and many activities in between. The Scholars' Council plays a key role in ensuring the community is vibrant, inclusive and impactful - and regularly communicates with the Trust to ensure the views of the Scholar body are taken into account in the management of the programme. 

The Gates Cambridge Scholars' Common Room plays an integral part in the community - it is a physical space where Scholars and visiting Alumni can work, relax, network and socialise. it is located on the 2nd floor of the University Centre. Resources include a computer lab, a collection of books from the Cambridge University Press, space to read and work, wi-fi, a TV room, games, etc. A number of Scholar ventures and initiatives have been realised through discussions and planning in the Scholars Room, including SimPrints.

Your department

As a graduate student at Cambridge, you will belong to one of the University's faculties, departments or affiliated institutions. These provide all your teaching and supervisions, and facilities for research.

They also organise regular seminars and workshops, often with eminent speakers. Graduate students are represented on departmental, faculty and other important committees that oversee graduate matters.

Your College

Throughout its history, Cambridge has had Colleges, which are intimate social and intellectual communities of scholars. They are educational charities, each with a particular mission and character, and they have evolved in response to different social pressures. They remain flexible, reacting to the changing needs of their members. But all are devoted to study and research across the range of disciplines and generations. Governed by Fellows, who are mostly academics employed in the University, they remain integral to the University's educational and research environment today. They can offer you a home and other facilities that Universities usually provide centrally. They also give you experiences and opportunities that are unique to Cambridge.

You can find more details about Colleges on the Graduate Admissions Office College page and also watch our film of Gates Cambridge Scholars explaining the College system for postgraduates.  

Other communities

If you can find the time, there are numerous other communities in Cambridge - e.g. sports clubs, social groups, societies and more.

Being a student at the University of Cambridge presents you with many opportunities for academic development alongside social and cultural activities. In addition to University and College events, the Gates Cambridge community hosts a wide range of events to enable its diverse members to form a strong and vibrant community at and beyond Cambridge. These are summarised below.

Gates Cambridge Programming

There are a huge number of events available to University students at Cambridge. In addition to these, Gates Cambridge puts on a wide range of programming for its Scholars. For example:

  • Orientation & Induction - a four-day programme for new Scholars to get to know each other and the Cambridge system. Much of it is spent getting muddy in the beautiful Lake District.
  • Welcome Dinner  - once new Scholars have cleaned off the mud of orientation, the Trust holds a formal welcome dinner for new arrivals.
  • Annual Lecture - an eminent speaker talks on a topic of importance and current interest; the entire Cambridge community is welcome.
  • Day of Research - an event where Scholars showcase their research to the wider Cambridge community
  • Day of Engagement - one of the many opportunities to use your skills and experience for the benefit of others
  • Fall Ball - a major social occasion where the Gates Cambridge gets to let is hair down
  • Graduation Dinner - a formal dinner to celebrate the graduating class of Scholars
  • Academic events: e.g. Scholar Symposia at which Scholars speak to the community on their topic for five minutes and take questions.
  • Social and cultural events: e.g. Scholarship swaps and trips outside Cambridge.
  • Scholar-led activities: outreach work, language tables, film and literature clubs and much more.

Learning for Purpose

In addition to the above programming, Learning for Purpose, a Scholar-led and Trust supported programme, seeks to support and equip Gates Cambridge Scholars in their personal and professional development as researchers and potential leaders striving to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Cambridge post-graduate study is a unique and compelling time to not only gain valuable skills within one’s field, but also to develop cross-cutting skills and experiences often not sufficiently emphasised in a degree-centred training. Learning for Purpose is designed to address this gap and support a wide-ranging interests and skill development in the diverse scholar community. Additionally, LfP facilitates opportunities for Scholars to explore and reflect on questions pertaining to leadership, with the aim of fostering mindful leaders. LfP organises bespoke workshops by world experts, and encourages peer-to-peer and informal learning through discussion panels and events among current Scholars. REcent LfP events include:

  • The Art & Science of Listening: a workshop on listening and interpersonal skills
  • Skill-a-thon: Scholars have the opportunity to choose and learn from a choice of intensive and diverse training workshops. To name a few, these include writing for science publications, understanding Impostor syndrome, Leadership with LEGOs.
  • LfP's Leading for Purpose: A year long exploration of the concept and strategies of leadership, alternative definitions and focus. This theme is addressed throughout the year via three broad areas of focus: decolonising and defining leadership, management and communication in leadership, creativity and inspiration in leadership.

One critical outcome of LfP training is a set of transferable skills for each Scholar, which can be used across academic disciplines. The programme is organised by Scholars with the support of the Trust, and all are encouraged to participate. For more information visit