Lucy Cavendish will accept standard-age female undergraduates as part of it's October 2020 intakeMartin Bond

Lucy Cavendish’s Governing Body has “unanimously agreed” to accept standard-age female undergraduates as part of the college’s incoming cohort, following the fiasco surrounding this year’s A-Level results.

The College made the announcement on their website last month, with the University’s undergraduate study page also adding that for entry from 2021 Lucy Cavendish “will be welcoming applicants from suitably qualified students, regardless of age, gender and background.”

While the admissions of undergraduates was planned to commence in 2021, the decision to accept standard-age female undergraduates came into effect a year early as part of the College’s response to support offer-holders who’ve had their results upgraded following the government’s U-turn on awarding Centre Assessed Grades. The initial algorithm for awarding this year’s results was considered unfair as it benefited private school students while disadvantaged students disproportionately missed out on their offers.

Following A-level results day the College announced: “we are as supportive as possible of those who have been deeply affected by the many changes in examination arrangements... [and] will therefore accept transfers from other colleges, where desired, of women who had a firm offer for 2020 entry, who have now made their grades, but who cannot now be accommodated at other colleges.”

Lucy Cavendish College told Varsity “[we are] delighted to be welcoming 30 standard-age women undergraduate students as part of our first year undergraduate cohort this October. The standard-age undergraduates will form just under half of the first year cohort..” and confirmed that “74% of our new undergraduate intake are from underrepresented groups at Cambridge, including from state schools.”

Lucy Cavendish, in another change to their admissions, announced last year their move towards becoming a mixed college.

Since its inception in 1965, the College has only admitted women over the age of 21 and has been one of only three women’s colleges in Cambridge. The decision to admit men from 2021 will leave Murray Edwards College and Newnham College as the two remaining women’s only colleges in Cambridge.


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The announcement has come with mixed-reaction. Several have applauded the decision made by Lucy Cavendish’s president Professor Dame Madeleine Atkins, who said in a statement last year that the College was founded during a time “when women were severely under-represented in the University” and that “it is now important for Lucy Cavendish College to offer opportunities to excellent students from non-traditional backgrounds, regardless of gender.”

Despite the large support for the change, some students and alumnae have opposed the college’s planned acceptance of men, arguing that the college has not yet completed its feminist work and should preserve its female-only space.

In terms of the practicalities of these policy changes, the College has announced that “all 30 standard-age first years will be accommodated at our main site” and they aim to accommodate undergraduate students for “at least the first three years of their studies, subject to availability”.

Additionally “from 2021, women who for religious or cultural reasons need to be in women-only accommodation can be given a room in ‘sets’ which are women only.”

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