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How we select students

Posted: January 16, 2019

The college has sent out emails and letters with offers to students for admission in autumn 2019. Congratulations to everyone who has secured a provisional place, and we wish you well with your studies in the coming months. We’re sorry that many excellent candidates didn’t receive an offer – but this year was once again highly competitive with a record number of applications.

More widely, the Cambridge admissions process is the subject of much discussion about whether it’s fair to all candidates, irrespective of their background. In particular, there has been controversy about interviews and how much they influence the selections we make. The Master of Selwyn, Roger Mosey, has written a piece for the New Statesman explaining how the process looks from the inside and how the decisions are made. He explains that interviews are only part of a much bigger process; and this college – and the university more widely – rely increasingly on data about prospective students. You can read the piece here:


A Dean for 2019

Posted: January 7, 2019

Selwyn has a new Dean: Dr Charlotte Summers, who takes up the role this January. Charlotte is one of our Fellows in medicine. She is also a university lecturer, and an honorary consultant in intensive care medicine for the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The post of Dean is established in our statutes: “The Dean shall, in conjunction with the Senior Tutor and tutors, be responsible to the governing body for maintaining good discipline and the observance of college regulations on the part of the students of the college.” It’s a key role in the smooth running of the college, and there’s more information about the Dean’s responsibilities in section 6 of our guide for students.

We wish Charlotte well in her new position.

Dr Christopher Johnson, 1931-2019, RIP

Posted: January 7, 2019

It is with great sadness that we report the death on January 5th 2019 of Dr Christopher Johnson, Honorary Fellow of the college.

Chris came to the college as an undergraduate in 1950; and, as a talented physicist, he became a Fellow of Selwyn more than 60 years ago. He went on to be a distinguished Bursar here and at St John’s College. It was during his time as Selwyn’s Bursar that Cripps Court was constructed and the larger, modern college became established.

We send our deepest sympathy to his wife June, his family and friends. Dr Christopher Johnson, 1931-2019, RIP.

Season’s Greetings

Posted: December 18, 2018

Our homepage shows the photograph chosen for the college Christmas card: an aerial shot of Selwyn taken by our recent alumnus Laurence Moscrop, who studied engineering here. The image was captured by Laurence, using a drone, on 26 February 2018.

We send season’s greetings to our current students and to alumni, families and friends – with every good wish for 2019. If you’d like some extra festive spirit, you may also enjoy the choir’s Christmas recording which features ‘The Little Road to Bethlehem’.


Our Christmas Campaign

Posted: December 7, 2018

The annual Telephone Campaign is underway, with current students calling alumni and friends to update them on recent developments at Selwyn. We’re also grateful for support for the big challenges facing the college: backing students with bursaries and grants; ensuring we have the best teaching; and providing world-class facilities. There’s more about the plans for a new library and auditorium here: https://www.selwynalumni.com/main-website-pages/library-and-auditorium.

The callers are seen around the Christmas tree in the Master’s Lodge with Roger Mosey. The campaign continues until December 19th, and you can also contact us anytime via development@sel.cam.ac.uk.

Chapel News

Posted: December 2, 2018

The season for Carols began early this year. The first service in Selwyn’s chapel took place on November 29th; and the Sunday Carol service was actually at the start of Advent.

This year’s Carol Service in Selwyn Chapel.

As has become a tradition, the college choir will now head to London for a service for alumni, families and friends at St James’s Church in Piccadilly. It will be on Thursday December 6th at 7pm and all are welcome. This year we’re planning a ‘massed choir anthem’ giving you a wonderful opportunity to sing with the choir. Please note that if you’re interested in joining in, you need to be able to arrive early, at 6.20pm, to take part in a 15 minute rehearsal.

Full details of the event can be found at https://www.selwynalumni.com/carol-service.

Building the future

Posted: November 11, 2018

Planning is well underway for the start of building work on Selwyn’s new library and auditorium – which will be constructed during 2019 and 2020. The project will create a library fit for the digital age, with a mix of communal and individual spaces for students to work; and the auditorium will be a flexible space with tiered seating for lectures and performances. The site is on the corner of Grange Road and West Road, completing the acclaimed Ann’s Court development.

The total cost of the building is expected to be £12.6m, and more than £10m has been raised already. The college is now launching a set of opportunities for alumni and friends to support the project by buying a brick, a chair or a paving stone – with the aim of raising the £2m needed to meet our financial goal.

You can see the plans and make an online donation here:


Or for more information, please contact our development team via development@sel.cam.ac.uk or call Erin Bond on 01223 767846.

In Remembrance

Posted: November 4, 2018

Selwyn will be remembering those who died in conflict with services in the chapel on Sunday November 11th. There will be a two minutes silence in Old Court at 11am; and later at 6pm the choir will sing Parry’s Songs of Farewell to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.

Our archive images for November feature the description of a chance meeting on the battlefield in 1918 by Montague Spinney (SE 1906, pictured below) and Robert Close (SE 1907). Spinney was serving as a chaplain while Close was a lieutenant with the Yorkshire Regiment when they met in May 1918 – only a few days before Close was killed on 27th May. Spinney had read Music at Selwyn and was a Music Scholar while Close had read History. Sadly, Close left a young wife and child when he died.

The letter reads as follows: “We were being driven back on the Lys, near Le Croix du Bac, V, tho’ I was Chaplain to the 13th East Surreys, we were so short of officers that I was in charge of building some trenches to try & stop the Boche advance. We were all being shelled & machine gunned rather wickedly when, suddenly up came The 50th Div., & a young officer came up to me & asked if I was in charge. I said “No”, he’d find them over in the farmhouse nearby”. He looked at me – for we all looked alike in our tin hats & khaki – and said “My goodness, Spinney, what are you doing out here”. Then we parted & I never saw him again. He was a fine lad & I always liked him at Selwyn.”

Posted: October 17, 2018

The college has named a room in honour of Kathleen Lyttelton (1856-1907): campaigner for women’s rights and social justice; journalist; and wife of our first Master.

The room, formerly known as the Tower Room, was opened on Sunday October 14th by members of the Lyttelton family. Pictured are her three surviving grandchildren – Ned, Lavinia and Kate – with a photograph of Kathleen from the National Portrait Gallery.

Kathleen arrived in Cambridge with her husband Arthur in 1882 when he took up the Mastership of the newly-founded college. She was an early suffragist, and meetings advancing the cause were held at Selwyn from its earliest days. Kathleen went on to have a national role in the campaign for women’s votes; and she became a writer and editor, and gave Virginia Woolf one of her first commissions.

You can read more about Mary Kathleen Lyttelton’s remarkable life in her entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-50712

Our photograph shows Selwyn Fellows and friends gathered with the Lyttelton family at the opening event.

New Beginnings

Posted: October 2, 2018

The college is now home to a new generation of graduate students and undergraduates, following matriculation ceremonies on Friday 29 September and Monday 1 October. We’ve been joined this year by a total of more than 200 new students.

Undergraduates were addressed in Hall on Monday morning by the Senior Tutor Dr Mike Sewell and the Praelector Dr Stewart Sage.

They then went into Old Court for the traditional freshers photo where they were joined by the Master Roger Mosey, the Chaplain Hugh Shilson-Thomas and deputy head porter Bob Watson.

We wish our new students happiness and success during their time at Selwyn.

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