Colleges of the University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is composed of 31 colleges in addition to the academic departments and administration of the central university. Until the mid-19th century, both Cambridge and Oxford comprised a group of colleges with a small central university administration, rather than universities in the common sense. Cambridge's colleges are communities of students, academics and staff – an environment in which generations and academic disciplines are able to mix, with both students and fellows experiencing "the breadth and excellence of a top University at an intimate level".
Cambridge colleges provide most of the accommodation for undergraduates and postgraduates at the university. At the undergraduate level they have responsibility for admitting students to the university, providing pastoral support, and organising elements of their tuition, though lectures and examinations are organised by the faculties and departments of the central university. All degrees are awarded by the university itself, not the colleges, and all students study for the same course regardless of which college they attend. For postgraduate students, research is conducted centrally in the faculties, departments and other university-affiliated research centres, though the colleges provide a central social and intellectual hub for students.
Colleges provide a range of facilities and services to their members in addition to accommodation, including: catering, library facilities, extracurricular societies, and sporting teams. Much of sporting life at Cambridge is centred around college teams and inter-collegiate competition in Cuppers. Student activity is typically organised through separate common rooms for undergraduate and postgraduate students. Another important element of collegiate life is formal hall, which range in frequency from weekly to every night of the week during Full Term.
Colleges also provide funding, accommodation, or both, for some of the academic posts in the university, with the majority of Cambridge academics being a fellow of a college in addition to their faculty/departmental role. Fellows may therefore hold college positions in addition to their academic posts at the university: these include roles such as Tutor (responsible for pastoral support), Director of Studies (responsible for academic oversight of students taking a particular subject), Dean (responsible for discipline among college members), Senior Tutor (responsible for the college's overall academic provision), or Head of college ('Head of House').
Colleges are self-governed charities in their own right, with their own endowments and possessions.