The University of Cambridge is a collegiate research university in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Founded in 1209 and granted a royal charter by Henry III in 1231, Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s fourth-oldest surviving university, and one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world. The university grew out of an association of scholars who left the University of Oxford after a dispute with the townspeople. The two English ancient universities share many common features and are often jointly referred to as Oxbridge. In turn, Cambridge-educated John Harvard and other founders would establish Harvard University, inspired by the English model, in the eponymous Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Cambridge is formed from a variety of institutions which include 31 semi-autonomous constituent colleges and over 150 academic departments, faculties and other institutions organised into six schools. All the colleges are self-governing institutions within the university, each controlling its own membership and with its own internal structure and activities. All students are members of a college. The university does not have a main campus, and its colleges and central facilities are scattered throughout the city. Undergraduate teaching at Cambridge centres on weekly small-group supervisions in the colleges in groups of typically 1-4 students. This intensive method of teaching is widely considered the 'jewel in the crown' of an Oxbridge undergraduate education. In addition, lectures, seminars, laboratory work and occasionally further supervisions are provided by the central university faculties and departments. Postgraduate teaching is provided predominantly centrally.
Cambridge University Press, a department of the university, is the oldest university press in the world and currently the second largest university press in the world. Cambridge Assessment, also a department of the university, is one of the world's leading examining bodies and provides assessment to over eight million learners globally every year. The university also operates eight cultural and scientific museums, including the Fitzwilliam Museum, as well as a botanic garden. Cambridge's libraries, of which there are over 100, hold a total of around 16 million books, around nine million of which are in Cambridge University Library, a legal deposit library. The university is home to, but independent of, the Cambridge Union – the world's oldest debating society. The university is closely linked to the development of the high-tech business cluster known as 'Silicon Fen'. It is the central member of Cambridge University Health Partners, an academic health science centre based around the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.
By endowment size, Cambridge is the wealthiest university in Europe. In the fiscal year ending 31 July 2019, the central university, excluding colleges, had a total income of £2.192 billion, of which £592.4 million was from research grants and contracts. At the end of the same financial year, the central university and colleges together possessed a combined endowment of over £7.1 billion and overall consolidated net assets (excluding 'immaterial' historical assets) of over £12.5 billion. A member of numerous associations and part of the 'golden triangle' of English universities, Cambridge has educated many notable alumni, including eminent mathematicians, scientists, politicians, lawyers, philosophers, writers, actors, monarchs and other heads of state. As of October 2020, 121 Nobel laureates, 11 Fields Medalists, 7 Turing Award winners and 14 British prime ministers have been affiliated with Cambridge as students, alumni, faculty or research staff. University alumni have won 194 Olympic medals.