Update on 2022 undergraduate admissions

Thursday 27 January 2022


St Catharine’s is committed to encouraging applications from students with academic potential of all backgrounds. This year, the College remained one of the most popular Cambridge Colleges and our admissions team considered 985 applications for undergraduate places from across the United Kingdom, European Union and the rest of the world. Admissions interviews were held in December 2021 and our admissions team let interviewees know if we were able to offer them a place to study on 25 January 2022.

Dr David Bainbridge (2003), Fellow and Admissions Tutor at St Catharine’s, commented:

“We are always keen to hear from students of all backgrounds who are interested in embarking on their undergraduate studies at Catz. It has been a real privilege to get to learn about each candidate’s interests and talents from personal statements, online interviews and assessments. We wish all of our applicants every success in their future academic careers – whether at Catz or elsewhere.

“We are extremely grateful to the current undergraduates, College departments and academic staff who were involved in our admissions process this year and helped the College remain on track to achieve or even exceed the University of Cambridge’s admissions targets in every metric. What’s more, we are particularly pleased that there was parity across applicants from UK state and independent schools: success rates for applications from both cohorts remain similar.”


University of Cambridge target

St Catharine’s 2021–22

offer holders

UK-residents who attend maintained-sector schools

69.1% by 2024 intake


POLAR4 (HE Participation) – quintile 1

7.0% by 2024 intake


POLAR4 (HE Participation) – quintiles 1 & 2

16.6% by 2024 intake


Indices of Multiple Deprivation – quintiles 1 & 2

21.2% by 2024 intake


Kathryn Singleton, the College’s Outreach Manager, said, “I am delighted that St Catharine’s proud track record of widening participation is evident in this year’s data. The College’s outreach activities engage talented students so they understand that they can thrive as part of our community and that it is worth applying regardless of their background. We are set to reach even more potential applicants in the months ahead after a significant gift to the College allowed us to double the size of our outreach team and recruit 200+ student ambassadors.”

COVID–19 forced St Catharine’s to conduct our interviews entirely online for the second year in a row. Over 1,000 online interview sessions were successfully completed in December 2021 with St Catharine’s applicants as part of the 2021–22 admissions process.

The College first moved our interviews online in late 2020, when we established an inclusive, low-tech approach – using the simplest videoconferencing platform we could find, and asking candidates to scribble on a plain surface (such as notepads and whiteboards) with thick, black pens. We also piloted a virtual welcome room hosted by some of our student ambassadors in an attempt to replicate the warm welcome that candidates traditionally enjoy before in-person interviews in College. These approaches were retained for our most recent interviews after positive feedback from interviewees and interviewers alike from the first year.

Amrutha Vudathu, JCR President and a first-year Theology, Religion & Philosophy of Religion undergraduate, was one of the St Catharine’s student ambassadors who greeted candidates in the virtual welcome room:

“Back when I was applying to Catz in 2020, I was initially unsure what to expect as I had never had an online interview before but the team at Catz was so helpful and the student ambassadors were so welcoming. In my waiting room, they helped us with last-minute tips and even played games with us — one of the girls with whom I played Pictionary in the waiting room before my interview is now one of my best friends at Catz!

“Just before my interview started, my whole year group in school was sent home due to a case of COVID-19, and I was very disorientated because I did not have a place to sit for my interview. The student ambassadors were able to stay connected on the call to ensure everything was running smoothly before my interview started and to ensure my interviewers were fully aware of the situation so that I stood a fair chance.

“I wanted to make sure that the applicants this year who may have faced similar issues also had someone to help calm them down as they waited for their interview. I signed up to help with the welcome room this year, and I am very glad I was able to offer my support and have some lovely conversations throughout the day!”

Our admissions process has also been entirely paperless, with applicants’ files moving securely and efficiently between the University and colleges, and between admissions staff and interviewers. This meant there have been environmental and accessibility gains throughout the application and interview stages of the College’s admissions cycle.

Dr Bainbridge added, “We will be weighing up carefully the advantages of online and in-person interviews with our counterparts from across the University of Cambridge. As a College, we will be advocating for a consistent approach between colleges, within each subject. Applying to university can be an anxious time for young people so it is essential that we retain a clear, consistent approach for the 2022–23 admissions cycle.”