Oxford University - St Catherine's College. Image courtesy of Jussi Toivanen.

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St Catherine’s College

St Catherine’s College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in Oxford, England, and is the youngest college teaching both undergraduates and graduate students.

Its origins date back to 1868 (although the campus itself was opened in 1962), and it will host 528 undergraduates, 385 graduate students and 37 visiting students by December 2020, making it the University’s largest undergraduate college. In 1974, it was also one of the first men’s colleges to admit women.

In 1962, the college was founded as the university’s Delegacy for Unattached Students by historian Alan Bullock, who went on to become the first master and vice-chancellor of the college.

What's the History of St Catherine's College?

St catherine’s College dates back to the Scholares Non Ascripti, or Delegacy for Unattached Students, founded by Statute on 11 June 1868. The college was established as part of an expansion of the university so that male students could gain an Oxford education without the costs of college membership.

Nineteen students matriculated in October 1868 as Scholares Non Ascripti. By 1914, more than 4,000 men had matriculated as non-collegiate students. Groups began using the name “St. Catharine’s”, which was taken from a hall used for boat club meetings on Catte Street. The name is also a reference to St. Catherine of Alexandria. In 1956 the delegates decided to obtain approval to turn the delegacy into a fully residential college. They acquired 8 acres (3.2 ha) from Merton College, Oxford and additional funds up to £400,000 for all facilities. After a total expenditure of £2.5 million, the college opened in 1962.

The Buildings of St Catherine's College

The college buildings are built in glass, brick, and concrete and were designed by the Danish architect Arne Jacobsen, combining modern materials with a traditional Oxford college layout centred on a quadrangle. Jacobsen’s designs for the college have been the subject of various art and design exhibitions. They received a Grade I listing in 1993.

Jacobsen’s plans for the college did not include a chapel. The St Catherine’s Christmas carol concert is now held in Harris Manchester College‘s chapel. The majority of St Catherine’s buildings are in the form of staircases that open directly onto the quad(s) outside and are filled with student rooms and office space. 

St Catherine’s has a number of lecture theatres and seminar rooms, a music house, two student computer rooms, a small gym, squash courts, and a punt house. There are also additional purpose-built conference facilities with lecture theatres, meeting rooms and bar, music room, and car parking. The dining hall can seat 350 diners, the largest capacity of any Oxford college.

What is it Like to Study at St Catherine's College, Oxford?

St. Catherine’s has one of the largest undergraduate and graduate intakes at the University of Oxford. 

The JCR is run by a committee of 25 undergraduate students and fulfils a wide range of duties such as organising events and providing support to the students. The MCR is composed of graduate students, visiting postgraduates, fourth-year undergraduates and mature (over the age of 21) full-time students. 

The college celebrates its patron saint each year with a special Catz Night dinner. Every three years the college also holds a ball, usually off-site. The college also has several sports, music and other facilities on site, including squash courts, pool tables, a free gymnasium, a punt house, and theatres.

Where is St Catherine’s College?

St Catherine’s College is located on St Giles (OX1 3LZ), Oxford. Tel 01865 278490.

St Catherine's College Coat of Arms
Arms: Sable a saltire ermine between four catherine wheels.

Can you Visit St Catherine’s College?

Yes, St Catherine’s College is open to the public but by appointment only.

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