Background | University of Oxford
Radcliffe Science Library, Parks Road, Oxford
Radcliffe Science Library, Parks Road, Oxford
Credit: Bodleian Libraries

Background

Why is a new graduate college needed?

For the past three years Oxford University has been ranked as the world’s top university in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. One of the key factors in securing this position has been the high-quality research carried out by Oxford researchers and graduate students. In order for the University to continue its high-impact research and maintain its number one ranking, we need to attract growing numbers of high-quality graduate students to join our world-leading research groups. In addition, the creation of new postgraduate taught courses in the MPLS, Medical Sciences and Social Sciences Divisions means that we need to accommodate larger numbers of graduate students.

One of the key education priorities in the University’s Strategic Plan (2018-23) is to manage anticipated growth in student applications and employer demand for graduate students by increasing our postgraduate taught (PGT) student intake by up to 450 a year and the postgraduate research (PGR) student intake by up to 400 a year, while maintaining quality. 

Parks College was established as a graduate society of the University, similar to St Cross College and Kellogg College, to help realise these ambitions to manage student growth. It allows us to admit more postgraduate students without imposing unrealistic targets, straining facilities in existing graduate colleges or disrupting the balance of undergraduate and postgraduate students in colleges which accept both. 

Why the Radcliffe Science Library site?

The Radcliffe Science Library (RSL) is a grade II listed building, which was constructed in 1901 to a design by the renowned architect Sir Thomas Jackson. Siting the Parks College in a historic building in the heart of the University Science Area means that scholars and students can benefit from an attractive and convenient hub close to their departments and research labs, where they can come together to engage in discussions, seminars, workshops, reading groups and social activities.

Plans had already been put forward by Gardens, Libraries and Museums (GLAM) to refurbish and revitalise the RSL building in order to modernise the library facilities, provide much-needed space for the preservation of the museum collections and support research and teaching with them, and facilitate public engagement with research. Integrating the RSL redevelopment plans with the proposals for Parks College ensures that all these objectives can be met.