The ARU building is less than a kilometre from Downing, but can feel like another worldARU / Wikimedia Commons

“Privileged”. “Stuck up”. “Classist”. These are just some of the answers I received when I asked students at other universities in Cambridge their assumptions about Cantabs. The truthfulness of these assertions warrants an entire article of its own, but what is clear is that the exclusivity of the University of Cambridge certainly doesn’t help to demystify it from the non-Cambridge students in town.

Arif Shahrudin, a finalist at the Cambridge School of Visual & Performing Arts (CSVPA) has befriended a number of Cambridge students over his three years in the city. While he has had some unpleasant encounters with some Cambridge students, it has not prevented him from hunting Ticketbridge for Wednesday Revs tickets, or studying in college cafes.

“Unpleasant experiences with Cambridge students have not prevented him from hunting Ticketbridge for Wednesday Revs tickets”

Arif recalls the time in which a Cambridge student stopped talking to them after finding out that he doesn’t go to the University of Cambridge: “He literally just turned his back to me but I was stuck in the queue for Jack’s.” But despite the coldness of this gelato encounter, Arif hasn’t shied away from befriending ’Uni of’s. In fact, “most of my friends are from Cambridge,” he tells me, and he is confident in approaching strangers on the street “if they look cool”.

For those who are more introverted, Cambridge students seem somewhat unapproachable. Mathilde Chapman, a fresher studying Animation and Illustration at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), has found it difficult to get to know people at the University of Cambridge. Despite this, Mathilde participates in University society events – such as ARCSOC life drawing, where I first met her. And although she hasn’t had much opportunity to do so just yet, she thinks it would be lovely to meet more Cambridge students.

Mathilde is certainly not alone in her experience with the lack of interaction between Cambridge students and the students of other universities in the city.

“ARU is heavily being overshadowed by the University of Cambridge”

“I very much do think ARU is heavily being overshadowed by the University of Cambridge,” says Janissaries Wardhana, a first-year Psychology student at ARU. Janissaries recounts how he was “awestruck” by the dining halls and the massive size of the colleges when he visited. He also points to some facilities and memberships of some Cambridge societies, such as the Cambridge University Polo Club, founded in 1873, which is only made available for Cambridge students and alumni. Regrettably, ARU has no such counterpart.

Leia Tonkin, another student from ARU studying Illustration, also shares a similar view to Janissaries, though to a lesser extent. Despite being an ARU student, she admits that she “didn’t even know ARU existed until last year, [but] of course, everyone knows that the University of Cambridge exists because of its prestige.”

Upon entering the maze of the fortress-like colleges in central Cambridge, it is only natural to be captivated by the historical architecture. But, behind the grandeur of the architecture, the immense wealth that some of these colleges hold is just as hard to overlook. According to the Great British Class Survey, graduates of the University of Cambridge, on average, earn £20,000 more annually than graduates of ARU.

“A good way to [include ARU and the wider local Cambridge community] is to have the University of Cambridge and ARU open up all, if not most, of their societies to each other,” Janissaries suggests. Leia echoes this sentiment: “After all, we do study in the same city.”


Mountain View

Sneering at Anglia Ruskin is Cambridge at its worst

The instinctive tendency to ask someone “What college and subject?” when we first meet someone is perhaps too ingrained in Cambridge students. There is always so much happening in the University – a BOP or a formal is always around the corner – and it is difficult to find anyone whose mind isn’t constantly preoccupied by what their supervisor is going to say about their latest essay. But it’s important to remember that we are not the only people who live and study in Cambridge, the city does not revolve around this University, and the other students who share the space with us are worth paying attention to.