Fitzwilliam College (often abbreviated "Fitz") is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Cambridge, England. The college traces its origins back to 1869 and the foundation of the Non-Collegiate Students Board, a venture intended to offer students from less financially privileged backgrounds a chance to study at the university.
The institution was originally based at Fitzwilliam Hall (later renamed Fitzwilliam House), opposite the Fitzwilliam Museum in central Cambridge. Having moved to its present site in the north of the city, Fitzwilliam attained collegiate status in 1966. Female undergraduates were first admitted in 1978, around the time most colleges were first admitting women.
Six members of Fitzwilliam College have received a Nobel Prize. Notable alumni include the Nobel Prize-winning physiologist Albert Szent-Györgyi, the Indian revolutionary leader Subhas Chandra Bose, economists Joseph Stiglitz and Angus Deaton, and politician Lee Kuan Yew.
Fitzwilliam is now home to around 450 undergraduates, 300 graduate students and 90 fellows.
In 1869, Cambridge University altered its statutes to allow men who were not members of a college to become members of the University under the supervision of a censor, whose office was in Trumpington Street, opposite the Fitzwilliam Museum. This provided students who could not afford to belong to a college with a base from which to study at the University, allowing them to be admitted to degrees, sit examinations and compete for scholarships. The name "Fitzwilliam" was chosen by the students at a meeting of the Non-Collegiate Amalgamation Club in the Spring of 1887 and, as a result, the University decreed that the house in Trumpington Street could be known as Fitzwilliam Hall. This became the headquarters of the Non-Collegiate Students Board and provided student facilities and limited accommodation. It was renamed Fitzwilliam House in 1922.
Due to its emphasis on academic ability rather than wealth, Fitzwilliam quickly attracted a strong academic contingent that included future Nobel Prize winners, Heads of State and important judicial figures. It developed a tradition in Medicine and established a reputation as one of the most internationally diverse institutions within the University.
In the second half of the 20th century, the availability of grants made Cambridge more accessible and the need for a non-collegiate body of undergraduates began to decline. The suggestion that Fitzwilliam close prompted an outcry from former students and it was therefore decided that it should aim for collegiate status. Funds were accumulated and a new site was acquired at Castle Hill, about one mile north of the city centre. The first new buildings were opened in 1963.