Pembroke College, Oxford to expand significantly

2 November 2010

 A major expansion to one of Oxford University’s colleges is about to begin.

Pembroke College, until now one of Oxford’s physically smaller colleges, is building two new quads and accommodation for many more of its students, all joined to the existing city centre site by a bridge arching across an Oxford street.

Pembroke College has launched “Bridging Centuries”, a fundraising campaign for its new buildings. The campaign target is £17m, of which £9m has already been raised. When combined with an already committed bank loan, this target figure will completely meet the costs of the project of £29 million.

The Pembroke campaign sits within the overarching Oxford Thinking campaign of Oxford University and its colleges, which recently passed the £1bn mark.

When the complex is complete, undergraduates will be able to live in College premises for all years of study, most on the College’s extended main site, while postgraduates will also benefit from more rooms and 6 flats for those with partners.

Pembroke will also in future boast attractive state-of-the-art common facilities, including a 170-seat multi-purpose auditorium, a new cafe and teaching and function rooms, all set around the two new quadrangles.

The Master of Pembroke, Giles Henderson, said: “This is no mere annexe we are building; this is a major extension of our main site which will benefit members of Pembroke and visitors for years to come, in a way which is very rarely possible for a College situated in central Oxford.

“The buildings represent a giant leap forward for one of Oxford’s physically smaller colleges and will increase the University’s overall appeal to applicants looking for high quality and convenient accommodation.”

The new complex will become an integral part of Pembroke’s main site with a footbridge to be built over Brewer Street in Oxford connecting it directly to the College’s Chapel Quad.

The Pembroke development, located in the heart of Oxford and designed by architects Berman Guedes Stretton, will cost £29m in total and will help to re-draw the appearance of an undistinguished part of St Ebbe’s in Oxford, providing a sympathetic facelift to an area of defunct industrial buildings, warehouses and vacant sites adjacent to Sir Edwin Lutyens’ Campion Hall.

Planning consent was granted last year, substantial funds have already been raised from private donors and bank financing is in place. Oxford-based contractors Kingerlee have been selected following a competitive tender and site demolition and construction will commence before the end of this year, with completion scheduled in 2012.

The ‘Bridging Centuries’ campaign launch has underlined the need for a further £8m of donations from alumni and friends of the College to ensure on-time completion and to permit Pembroke to remain focused on other key academic priorities against a backdrop of change in the UK’s approach to higher education funding.

Pembroke alumnus Julian Schild, Chairman of the Bridging Centuries Campaign Board, remarked at the campaign’s London launch ceremony: “Pembroke has built the foundations for its new bridge by strengthening its financial position and continually improving its academic appeal. Today’s more solid Pembroke is a platform for the future Pembroke across Brewer Street:  not the fulfilment of some desire to be “something completely different”, but a collection of wonderful rooms and spaces that Pembroke has deserved for a long time and which will put it in the front row of its Oxford peers. No other old college in central Oxford is able to extend its main site in this way today.” 

Enquiries: Andrew Seton, Strategic Development Director 07785 232708/01865 276473; John Church, Bursar 01865 276423Or Press Office, University of Oxford, 01865 280528,

Notes to Editors

  • Pembroke College is one of Oxford University’s 38 affiliated colleges and was founded in 1624. Its most distinguished alumnus was Dr Samuel Johnson. More recent graduates of distinction include Lord Heseltine, US Senators Richard Lugar and J. William Fulbright, as well as Sir Peter Ricketts, National Security Adviser to the British Government and formerly Permanent Secretary at the FCO. The Master of Pembroke is Giles Henderson, CBE, former Senior Partner at law firm Slaughter and May in the City of London.
  • Pembroke currently has just under 400 undergraduate and 175 post-graduate students. There is no intention to increase student numbers: the new complex will greatly improve the College’s offering to new applicants.
  • The College’s financial position makes it possible to pursue this project during a period of great uncertainty in the financial climate for higher education: Pembroke’s balance sheet has been strengthened in recent years, with the College endowment funds currently valued at £37m, whilst the College has consistently made a modest surplus on its operating account for the past 7 years. Dynamically increased fund-raising from alumni in recent years has assisted strengthening of this picture, as has buoyant income from vacation-time conferences. 
  • Oxford Thinking, the Campaign for the University of Oxford, is the largest fundraising campaign in European university history and one of the largest in the world. It has a minimum goal of £1.25bn and has three key aims: supporting students, supporting academic posts and programmes, and supporting buildings and infrastructure. It includes all the colleges, departments, and museums of Oxford University. The Campaign began its ‘quiet phase’ in summer 2004 and £575 million had been raised by its official launch on 28 May 2008. The Campaign has now raised £1bn.