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Budgeting for Cambridge

(21 Posts)
MrsBartlet Tue 28-Apr-15 07:29:40

Can anyone who either has or recently had a dc at Cambridge advise me on how much we could be looking at for college food bills? The accommodation costs are very reasonable but I don't know what we/dd should be budgeting for food? Obviously it is not like other catered options as you only pay for what you use but a rough idea would help. Don't wish to tempt fate by even asking this question as her offer is dependent on her getting the grades in her A Levels but we do need to plan our finances!

SpiritOfTheRitz Tue 28-Apr-15 07:33:27

It will depend on the college, I think. Some will charge more than others.

MrsBartlet Tue 28-Apr-15 07:38:05

Her offer is for Emmanuel. Just looking for a rough idea, really.

SpiritOfTheRitz Tue 28-Apr-15 08:04:04

You're usually looking at the same sort of cost as for a school canteen, or subsidised work canteen. £3-4 for a hot meal maybe?

But some colleges do subsidise more than others, and some have lots of options like sandwiches or soup that might cost less, although others have a fixed charge per meal, regardless of what you have.

Sometimes you have to pay a "kitchen charge" at the beginning of term, to contribute to maintenence costs, staff wages etc. Then the food is usually at a cheaper rate(and guests pay more, or if you opt out of the charge you pay more - though you might not be allowed to opt out as an undergrad anyway). At other colleges, you don't pay a kitchen charge at all.

I don't know about Emmanuel. If it was me, I would try to budget at least £90-£100 per week for the first term if I could, but it could well end up being less, if you're lucky.

MrsBartlet Tue 28-Apr-15 09:49:02

Thank you - that is helpful and gives me something to work on. I know there is no kitchen charge at Emmanuel so that may make the food more expensive!

sandpiper1979 Tue 28-Apr-15 13:17:23

Hi, she types nervously - this is my first ever Mumsnet post! My daughter is in her first year at Cambridge. At her college the daily menus are posted on the college website so you can see how much everything costs. (As Spirit said, there is a good range of types of food and prices.) Perhaps the menus are available on the Emmanuel website also?

MrsBartlet Tue 28-Apr-15 13:55:52

Welcome to mumsnet sandpiper and thanks for replying! No menus on the Emmanuel website. The only info I could find was on the general Cambridge website and it stated that meals were £3-6 each. I could work that out at £6 3 times a day, seven days a week for 8 weeks but I guess I just didn't know how much they might do their own thing rather than eating in halls. We had said we will pay her accommodation costs and she could live on her loan (minimum loan) but in most cases when parents say that the student needs to buy their own food. I am trying to work out if she should contribute something towards the food bill, whilst at the same time not leaving her penniless!

Is your daughter enjoying her first year?

spinoa Tue 28-Apr-15 14:34:22

I think it is hard to do much self-catering at Emma as their kitchen provision is deliberately very basic (apparently they even threatened to remove microwaves from gyp rooms recently) but most students eat breakfast in their rooms on weekdays (cereals etc) and many get take away sandwiches for lunch instead of eating (hot) lunch in College.

BTW terms are 8 weeks long but students in residence for a bit more than 8 weeks. Most students will go to formal dinners fairly frequently as these are social occasions and those dinners will cost on the higher end, although not more than £6-£7.

Emma's kitchen charge is incorporated into undergraduate room rents, see page 22 of link below:

sandpiper1979 Tue 28-Apr-15 15:05:33

Mrs B: my daughter is absolutely loving it. Playing hard but working too. It's going so well that I'm almost worried something awful is going to happen! Re food: at her college the ordinary meals are nearer the £3 than £6 but they do have to pay a kitchen fixed charge (£190 per term). As Spinoa has said, self catering is not always easy: the kitchen equipment is really basic in the first year accommodation at my daughter's college (even if she wanted to cook, which I don't think she does!) She and her friends (humanities) certainly never go to breakfast, and not always to lunch if they are in the faculty. Over the last two 10-week terms she averaged less than £7 a day in the hall/college cafe (that's excluding the fixed charge) which surprised me.

MrsBartlet Tue 28-Apr-15 16:14:23

Thanks both - that is very helpful. I can't imagine dd wanting to do any cooking anyway! I had thought she may have breakfast in her room a lot as she would have a fridge and could easily have cereal. Her offer is for English so she probably won't be up early every day!

How much longer either side of the 8 week term to do they tend to stay spinoa?

Glad your dd is loving it sandpiper - we are trying very hard not to count our chickens, so to speak smile as my dd still has to get through her A levels!

spinoa Tue 28-Apr-15 16:19:52

The term dates are given in the link I posted earlier: look on page 14 for the dates of Full Term and Normal Residence, and description thereof. You should allow for around 9 weeks, sometimes 10, per term, of which only 8 will have teaching. (And in the Easter Term there will be less than 8 weeks of teaching, much of it is the exam period.)

MrsBartlet Tue 28-Apr-15 16:25:46

Thanks, spinoa!

jeanne16 Tue 28-Apr-15 17:16:09

Slightly off topic, but a lot of Cambridge colleges will give students money to travel in their holidays. T hey are meant to do something educational but the definition is pretty loose. My DC is at Trinity Hall and all students who have applied have been given around £700 . I think they only get it once in the 3 years. Tell your DC to ask whether Emmanuel has a similar scheme.

MrsBartlet Tue 28-Apr-15 17:34:55

Ah yes, jeanne16 we were aware of this as dd has a friend in the second year and she funded some travelling in Europe last year. I didn't know how much they could get (though I am sure it differs between colleges). Dd needs to start thinking of a suitable reason to travel - perhaps a trip to Rome to see where Keats lived?!

boys3 Tue 28-Apr-15 19:35:19

around £3.00 for evening meal at DS's college plus another £1.00 for pudding if selected. He tends to eat his own cereal / croissants for breakfast. Seem to be quite a few formals, and he's been on quite a few formal swaps. The only rather more expensive meals in college have been the annual subject dinner and the first year formal which both were over the £30 mark. That said Cambridge seems to be remarkably good value, although apparently his electric bill for last term did break the £2 barrier smile His college has a cap on internet usage but it seems that is set pretty high as he says he has yet to incur any charges. Every other building seems to be a library so no costs for books. Hopefully your DD will achieve the grades - with the exception that is STEP for Maths, it seems the vast majority do achieve the required grades.

sandpiper1979 Tue 28-Apr-15 19:54:12

my DD's elec bill was 70p! Agree with boys3 that Cambridge is good value, particularly when comparing accommodation costs with friends at other unis with much longer rental contracts.

All the very best to your DD for her A levels, MrsB. It's so hard not to worry, isn't it?

MrsBartlet Tue 28-Apr-15 21:11:00

Thanks boys3. The formals at Emma are £7 which seems amazing value. In fact Cambridge does seem good value compared to other universities we looked at and has the advantage for us of being the closest to home for dd which cuts down on travel costs.

I know that most who have offers tend to get the grades (apart from the mathematicians) but we know of someone who failed to meet their offer last year so it is impossible not to worry. It must be better to be rejected after interview than get an offer and then not get the grades!

Still, dd is working very hard so she is doing her best despite dealing with various minor illnesses.

AtiaoftheJulii Tue 28-Apr-15 22:25:12

Have you seen (alternative prospectus) MrsB?

We went to an offer holder thing in an Oxford college at the weekend. The rent (9 weeks) is pretty reasonable already, so I was surprised to find out that it included £150 credit for food as well. The girl showing us round said that she didn't eat in College much and now had about £300 credit, lol, but that her friends who ate in for every meal possible (17 meals a week there) tended to run out around 5th week. No idea whether that helps! grin

MrsBartlet Wed 29-Apr-15 20:25:49

Thanks for the link, Atia - it looks so much fun, I want to go! Did your dd enjoy the offer holder day?

Figmentofmyimagination Wed 27-May-15 08:34:51

Hi Mrs Bartlet - how do you know there'll be a fridge in the room? Eg Are you providing it and are the college ok with this?

MrsBartlet Wed 27-May-15 12:29:01

The college provide them Figment, although I guess that each college may differ in what they provide.

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