Are you looking for something different to do this summer? Maybe thought about mixing learning with leisure or returning to university but without wanting to commit to a year-long course? Then the University of Cambridge International Summer Programme could be for you.
Designed for adults of every age, the University of Cambridge’s International Summer Programme allows students to combine courses from a wide-range of subjects and experience living in one of Cambridge’s historic Colleges.
So, if you’re interested in taking your learning to new heights, read on to find out everything you need to know about the University of Cambridge International Summer Programme.
Throughout, we’ll also hear from Rolando Dela Cruz, 58, who has attended two separate International Summer Programmes – most recently in 2018.
What is the University of Cambridge International Summer Programme?
The University of Cambridge’s International Summer Programme is a unique opportunity to experience life and learning at one of the world’s leading universities.
After two years of Covid-19, the University is delighted to announce a return to in-person teaching for their 2023 International Summer Programme, which will run from 9th July to 5th August.
The programme offers a choice of 100 one or two-week courses across arts and humanities to sciences, business, and global studies. Students are able to mix-and-match different courses to create a one-to-two-week personalised study programme.
The International Summer Programme will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2023 and with around 25% of students returning year after year, it remains just as popular.
“Every single day was like being in paradise for me”
Rolando Dela Cruz, 58, from the Philippines, has attended two of Cambridge’s International Summer Programmes and speaks highly of his experiences there.
Rolando is President of Darwin International School in the Philippines, which he founded himself. And in his spare time he enjoys collecting art, ancient artefacts, playwriting, and travelling – all of which fuel his great love for learning.
Rolando had his first taste of Cambridge in 1991 when he studied there for his Master’s in International Relations. He says, “I was so happy with my UK experience – completing my Master’s in Cambridge was really one of the highlights of my life.
“I went travelling around seven years after setting up my school and was exposed to all sorts of different countries and cultures, in Egypt and Israel for example. It made me miss learning, so I was excited when I found out about the International Summer Programme.”
Who is the University of Cambridge International Summer Programme for?
The University of Cambridge International Summer Programme is designed for adults of all ages and backgrounds.
From 18-year-olds looking to build their CV, to mid-career professionals looking for new ideas, and retirees wanting to return to education and reignite past passions, there’s something for everyone, and all are welcome.
For mature students who are interested in returning to education without a full-time commitment, the International Summer Programme is an especially exciting opportunity.
With students aged 18 to 80+, those involved say that one of the best things about the International Summer Programme is the extremely diverse group of students. It’s a great opportunity to meet all sorts of people from different backgrounds, cultures, and religions.
Rolando says, “The International Summer Programme is for everyone, from students who are still undergraduates to those who are much older. If your dream is to be in one of the intellectual centres of the world, to visit a beautiful place, to meet interesting people, or to rest while still being mentally stimulated, it’s all right there.
“My encounters with all my classmates of all ages were so valuable – I learnt so much from all of them. For example, I learnt so much from the younger students about modern technology and that knowledge has made a huge difference in my life. It’s what allowed me to set up online education for my own school.”
How are courses taught on the International Summer Programme?
The International Summer Programme can last anywhere from one to two weeks, depending on how many courses a student enrols on. For each week of study, students select two courses – one for the morning and one for the afternoon. Each course involves five sessions, which take place Monday to Friday.
Teaching is carried out by academics from the University of Cambridge, as well as leading professionals in their fields. Courses are complemented by a series of daily plenary lectures, exploring new ideas in a wide range of disciplines, with a number of evening events and talks to attend.
You’ll find an example of a typical International Summer Programme class timetable on the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education website. You can also find a list of courses on offer on this year’s International Summer Programme and information on how to apply, here. Or, for tuition and accommodation fee information, click here.
To make sure everyone’s able to participate fully and get the most out of their courses, the University of Cambridge asks that students familiarise themselves with the course materials beforehand. This includes carrying out any necessary reading and reviewing any literary texts, primary resources, and web links provided by course directors.
During his time in Cambridge, Rolando took part in various courses from the Ancient and Classical Worlds, to Art and Visual Culture, and Business and Entrepreneurship.
He says, “Every single day was like being in paradise for me, I was living my dream attending these classes. My professors were so accessible and answered all of the various questions I had, which I couldn’t so readily access in books.
“I loved the International Summer Programme so much that I even went back to do the same Roman Art and Archaeology course twice! The professor took our class to the classics museums in the Faculty of Classics and the Fitzwilliam Museum to discuss topics further and for us to be able to see original archaeological pieces.
“Being a collector of artefacts from the antiquities myself, I really had so much fun and learnt so much on this course.”
Staying in one of the University of Cambridge Colleges
Participants of the International Summer Programme have a unique opportunity to stay in a University of Cambridge College for the duration of their programme.
The Colleges are situated close to where the courses are taught, in the city of Cambridge itself. Each College has a different character and history, but all offer a warm welcome. For example, Gonville & Caius College dates back to medieval times and has produced fifteen Nobel Prize winners!
Students can choose between a basic room with a bed and washbasin, one with an en suite bathroom, or twin and double ensuite rooms. Breakfast and evening meals are also included in the cost of accommodation.
Staying in a Cambridge College is a great way to meet fellow students on the International Summer Programme and experience the city in a way that few people are able to. For many students, spending time eating meals together and sharing ideas with new friends of all ages and backgrounds adds a whole new level of enjoyment to their time on the International Summer Programme.
Rolando says, “Staying in the Colleges is such a great experience because you get to savour the tradition that goes back all the way to medieval times. I stayed in Selwyn College and it was so beautiful. I love the different architecture of all the Colleges.”
You can take a look at the College accommodation options here. And for more information about accommodation fees, the allocation process, you can visit the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education website.
Note: There are also non-residential places available for those who live locally or would prefer to stay elsewhere.
“It was amazing to be able to have long talks with so many like-minded people. Even now, we still organise to meet up”
In between the thought-provoking courses and expert teaching comes the opportunity to meet lots of new people. For many, this is what makes Cambridge’s International Summer Programme so unique and special.
With opportunities to socialise with other students throughout the programme, many people leave with a new sense of community and sometimes life-long friendships too.
Rolando says, “After our classes, some classmates of mine and I would go to some pubs or a restaurant. It was amazing to be able to have long talks with so many like-minded people from all over the globe, older, younger – it was so rewarding.
“On one of my courses especially, I developed really good friends. Even now, we organise to meet up. For example, I went travelling to Japan and met one of my classmates there, and I met another when I went to India. Others from the course have even had business projects and partnerships together. In terms of friendships, the International Summer Programme can be really very special.
“You can meet interesting people in any part of the world, but to meet all of them in just one very small place is exhilarating.”
Experiencing Cambridge beyond the classroom
Cambridge is one of England’s most famous and beautiful small cities. Staying nearby or in one of the University Colleges allows you to explore the area and immerse yourself in the city’s history, culture, and beautiful green spaces.
If you’re keen to extend your learning beyond the classroom, the University’s museums and collections cover everything from archaeology and anthropology, to polar science and zoology. For example, the Botanic Garden is home to a collection of over 8,000 plant species from around the world and the Fitzwilliam Museum has an extensive collection of art and artefacts.
For more inspiration on what you could get up to in Cambridge this summer, have a read of these 19 best things to do in Cambridge from Time Out. Picture yourself punting down the river or exploring the city on an exciting bike tour.
Rolando explained that Cambridge holds a special place in his heart and that he found it a privilege to explore the city during his Master’s and his time on the International Summer Programme.
He says, “You’re definitely not limited to the academic side of the Summer Programme. Cambridge is so quaint, beautiful, and peaceful. I’ve been to hundreds of European cities, but Cambridge is definitely still my favourite.”
What are the entry requirements for the University of Cambridge International Summer Programme?
To make sure everyone on the International Summer Programme is able to enjoy it to the full, the University of Cambridge asks that all applicants are confident in understanding and following arguments in university-level English. As a result, you’ll need to demonstrate a certain level of proficiency in English to be accepted.
If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to meet the University of Cambridge’s English language requirements by providing evidence of an English language qualification, such as IELTS (Academic) or C1 Advanced.
If you’ve previously attended a University of Cambridge International Summer Programme, you won’t need to provide any further proof of English language proficiency. You can find more information about the International Summer Programme Language requirements on the University of Cambridge website.
If you’re interested in the International Summer Programme and would like to find out more, head over to the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education website.