The story of Cambridge University begins in 1209 when several hundred students arrived in the little town of Cambridge after having walked 60 miles from Oxford. These students were all churchmen and had been studying in Oxford at that city's well-known schools. It was a hard life at Oxford for there was constant trouble, even fighting, between the citizens of the town and the students. Then one day a student accidentally killed a man of the town. The Mayor arrested three other students who were innocent and they were put to death. In protest, many students left Oxford, some of them went to Cambridge. And so the new University began.
It was Cambridge University. Of course, there were no Colleges in those early days and student life was very different from what it is now. The students were of all ages and came from anywhere and everywhere. Life in College was strict. The students were forbidden to play games, to sing (except sacred music), to hunt or fish or even to dance. Books were very rare and all the lessons were in the Latin language which students were supposed to speak even among themselves.
In 1440 King Henry VI founded King's College, and other colleges followed.
Nowadays there are more than 30 different colleges, including five for women students and several mixed colleges, in the University. The number of students in colleges is different: from 30 to 400 or 500.
The training course lasts 4 years. The academic year is divided into 3 terms. The students study natural and technical sciences, law, history, languages, geography, medicine, economics, agriculture, music and many other subjects. After 3 years of study a student may proceed to a Bachelor’s degree, and later to the degrees of Master and Doctor.
There are many ancient traditions that are still observed at Cambridge. For example, the students are required to wear gowns at lectures, in the University library, in the street in the evening, for dinners in the colleges and for official visits.
All the students must pay for their education - classes, examinations, books, laboratories, university hostel, the use of libraries. The cost is high. It depends on college and university speciality. Very few students get grants.
Many great men studied at Cambridge, for example, Bacon (the philosopher), Milton and Byron (the poets), Cromwell (the soldier), Newton (the outstanding physicist), Darwin (who is famous for his theory of evolution) and Kapitsa (the famous Russian physicist).