An official statement from St Benet’s Hall, a Permanent Private Hall (PPH) at the University of Oxford, declared that the University Council will not renew its license for the 2022-2023 academic year. As a result, the Hall will no longer be able to sustain facilities for teaching, faculty offices, or accommodation.
The announcement was communicated to students through an email sent out on 16th May 2022. This news comes after a decision last December, which held that St. Benet’s Hall would not admit new students for Michaelmas Term 2022. This is due to serious financial difficulties following the Hall’s separation from Ampleforth Abbey Trust.
Talks are now underway to ensure that current students can be supported with minimal disruption to their university experience. The Hall is considering plans to stay open for the next two years to support its current cohort but has also not ruled out the possibility of transferring students to other colleges.
In light of these announcements, current students and alumni of St. Benet’s Hall expressed disappointment at the “ending of a close-knit community”. One student said the hall’s closure demonstrated that “not all Oxford colleges could provide students with the same resources” and urged the University to provide stronger support to PPHs.
Located on 38 and 39 St. Giles, St. Benet’s Hall was established in 1897. The hall was originally meant to provide the opportunity for Benedictine monks to study for secular degrees at the University of Oxford, and it still holds a strong Benedictine and Roman Catholic tradition. Today, the hall hosts about 84 undergraduates and 48 graduate students of all faiths and denominations.
A spokesperson from the Ampleforth Abbey trust has reflected that the two properties of 38 and 39 St. Giles will likely be put on the market following the closure.
The Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, Professor Martin Williams, and by the college’s Master, Professor Richard Cooper’s email to students disclosed the following statement:
Education will continue as normal at St Benet’s until the end of the current academic year, and we are making arrangements for students to continue at the hall from the next academic year…We hope that the Hall will continue to operate for as long as possible, in the interest of the students. However, as this is no longer the case, arrangements will be put in place to ensure that all current students can complete their education at another college or hall.