At the heart of a Cambridge education is the supervision system. Supervisions create a unique environment, one which gives students individual contact with those at the cutting edge of their field, and demands that they come prepared to engage thoughtfully and creatively with the subject at hand. By learning in this way, our students develop self-confidence, critical thinking skills, intellectual curiosity and mental agility: qualities which set them apart for the rest of their lives. The supervision system has for very many years been the cornerstone of a Cambridge education, but this system is coming under immense pressure as the method of funding higher education in the UK changes.
The Annual Fund last year sought to raise funds for student support. Students who matriculated this autumn are paying fees of £9,000 a year on top of living expenses, and with this increase it is clear that the current levels of support provided by the University and the College will soon be insufficient. Selwyn has made it a priority to raise funds to ensure that no student feels as though Cambridge is beyond his or her financial reach. This is not, however, the end of the story.
The increased tuition fees from the individual have been linked to a cut in Government funding by 80%, effectively pushing the financial burden of a University education from the public purse to the student. This means that in addition to supplementing bursaries and hardship grants, core teaching costs will also create a strain on College finances.
Individual and small group teaching is a very expensive method of education. Cambridge and Oxford have the highest staff to student ratios across the UK and on average a Cambridge degree costs £17,500 a year to provide. This means that every Cambridge undergraduate is subsidized by £3,000 a year from College endowment. In total, Selwyn’s direct budget for teaching and the supervision system last year reached almost £750,000.
Selwyn is determined to make sure that all our students, regardless of the subject they are studying, are given the highest quality teaching possible, and to do this we need to be able to attract and support the best academics and researchers.
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