“Beginning in 2022-23, the undergraduate room ballot at Christ Church will no longer be linked to performance in First Public Examinations, as is the case at the vast majority of other colleges”.

That is the news sent in an email sent to Christ Church students yesterday, which the college confirmed when contacted for comment by The Oxford Blue. The changes, agreed by the college’s Governing Body last week, will take effect from 2022/23 but until then, penultimate year undergraduates – whether on a three or four year course – will still choose their rooms under the current balloting system.

Under the current system, which the college’s JCR voted to retain in Trinity term 2019, Scholars and Exhibitioners enjoy greater freedom to pick their room in 3rd year than students without an award. The email notes that the system makes Christ Church “an outlier on this front given that few, if any, other colleges still link their room ballots to such results”.

Christ Church explained that “the playing field [is] likely to be less level at the end of just one year at Oxford than it is by the time students take finals.” Indeed, it is widely believed that the current system fails to take into account significant variation in first-year students’ preparation for Oxford teaching and life before arriving at the University, reinforcing educational inequalities.

Concerns have also been voiced about the fairness of allowing examination results to determine students’ long-term living arrangements at Oxford and thus the quality of their university experience.

The college explained that the system replacing the current grades-based one would look like this:

  • Junior Members with medical/accessibility needs will be pre-assigned rooms before the ballot (see the note below);      
  • Freshers will continue to be dealt with by the Accommodation Office;
  • Organ Scholars have two rooms already assigned to them;        
  • Those studying Music and Academical Clerks will be put into a separate ballot for rooms with pianos, although they can choose to opt out and join the main ballot.

In the new ballot system, JCR executive members will also have first priority in choice of room, followed by third and fourth year students who will be prioritised above second years.

Echoing the email sent to students, the college told The Blue that it is “exploring other ways of encouraging and celebrating academic achievement by our students throughout their time at Christ Church”.

The Christ Church JCR Executive has also been contacted for comment.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Mitchell Marshall

Mitch (he/ him) is Editor-in-Chief for Trinity term 2021 as well as a long-suffering Sunderland fan, keen runner and general sports obsessive. His other interests include indie music, arthouse cinema,...