Lucy Cavendish announces plans to admit men
It is also changing its admissions criteria to the standard age
One of only three remaining single-sex colleges in the University of Cambridge, Lucy Cavendish has today announced that it is dramatically changed its admissions policy.
Currently, the college admits only women over the age of 21. However, as of October 2021, its student body will include both men and women as young as 18. This is part of the college's "clear commitment to widening participation".
The decision was made less than a year after the appointment of a new President of Lucy Cavendish College, Professor Dame Madeleine Atkins. The ninth incumbent of this position, Atkins led a review of admissions alongside both alumnae and students. According to the Lucy Cavendish website, the "primary reason for the change was to grow graduate and undergraduate numbers to support the University and the other colleges in making more places available for excellent students from under-represented backgrounds".
Professor Atkins explained that this is keeping with the traditions of the college which was originally founded in 1965 to give mature women – a "severely under-represented" group – the opportunity to study at Cambridge. Now women of all ages have access to the university, so "as a responsible and forward-thinking organisation, it is now important for Lucy Cavendish College to offer opportunities to excellent students from non-traditional backgrounds, regardless of gender."
One alumna, Emma Thompson, reportedly stated: "I support the ambition to widen access to current disadvantaged groups and those from non-traditional backgrounds. This seems like the perfect opportunity to update the original ambition of Lucy Cavendish, in challenging the exclusivity of Cambridge."
This announcement has come in the midst of regular criticisms of the university's access problem. With a number of measures being taken to attempt to tackle this issue, could the expansion of admissions in exclusive colleges be the next step?