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Institute of Continuing Education (ICE)


It is my pleasure to welcome you to the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education.

Situated alongside the University’s rich assortment of academic departments, research institutes, museums and its associated colleges, the Institute of Continuing Education has been a core constituent of Cambridge for 150 years. Our distinctive role is to act as an accessible provider of exceptional quality higher education for adults seeking to engage with flexible modes of learning throughout their lives.

Against the backdrop of a research-intensive and highly selective University, our organisation was founded by a group of progressive Victorian societal reformers and academics. Officially recognised by Cambridge in 1873 and believed to be the first ever provision of university-led extension education in the world, its radical purpose was to deliver wide-ranging, open-entry and affordable education and training to women and the working classes. It held clear aspirations to drive societal change towards universal suffrage and to promote opportunity and fairness as the second industrial revolution developed.

Fast forward to the present day and our central purpose remain the same.  The Institute provides a point of access to the educational resources of Cambridge for any motivated adult. Whether taking their first steps in higher education, accelerating or changing career paths or studying simply for the joy of exploring new fields, the Institute exists to support adults to flexibly gain qualifications, enhance their social mobility and employability during the fourth industrial revolution and, perhaps most importantly, exchange ideas and learn alongside peers drawn from all walks of life. 

Whether you enrol on a day school, online course, summer programme or a University of Cambridge undergraduate or postgraduate qualification, you will find a committed and welcoming team of academics, practitioner tutors and course administrators supporting our unique community of adult learners. These learning communities so often consist of mixtures of the young and old, those with no prior qualifications and those with many certifications, and people with extensive professional experience alongside others just setting out in the world of work.  Our online and in-person classrooms are better for it, as professional networks and lasting friendships form. The variety of life experiences and diversity of backgrounds allow new perspectives to develop and a warm and shared approach to learning.

Across the forthcoming year we will support around 8,000 course enrolments in more than a dozen academic fields and over 250 different courses. To promote access, we endeavour to provide some of the most affordable like-for-like courses and offer one of the most generous bursary schemes in the sector. We are committed to innovation in learning; the Institute has been delivering fully online courses for over a decade, launched a new Apprenticeships agenda in 2019 and has formed partnerships with emerging platforms including edX.  So, as we look in the post-pandemic context, where the levels of political, economic, societal and technological change seem set to accelerate in unpredictable ways, I believe you will find one constant through the Institute of Continuing Education – adult students drawn together from across the United Kingdom and internationally seeking to ask questions, gain insights, expand horizons and learn together for individual and collective benefit within the setting of one of the world’s most influential universities. I hope you will consider joining us.


Dr James Gazzard BSc (Hons) PhD MBA PGCert MA FHEA
Director of Continuing Education

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