25 october 2007

Closure of Greyfriars: University Statement

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The Capuchin Francisan Order has decided to discontinue their ministry at Greyfriars at the end of this academic year.

The Order’s statement on this decision can be viewed on the right.

The University of Oxford is bound by the decision of the Capuchin Franciscans. We regret the loss of Greyfriars as a Permanent Private Hall, but respect the Order’s decision.

Our priority is to ensure that the right academic and welfare support is in place for those students whose courses continue after the end of this academic year. Since it was notified of the decision by the Order, the University has been working with Regent’s Park College – the largest of the Permanent Private Halls – over the transfer of Greyfriars students to Regent’s Park. All students at Greyfriars who will be on a course in 2008-09 will transfer.

Of those applicants who have applied to Oxford for undergraduate admission in 2008, one applicant has named Greyfriars as their first choice. This application will (with the applicant’s permission) be re-routed to Regent’s Park. The applicant will not be disadvantaged in the selection process.

For two years after the transfer of students, Greyfriars will keep in operation its student accommodation.

Permanent Private Halls have a valued role in University life. A recent review of the Permanent Private Halls sought, amongst other things, to clarify their workings and role for the wider University. The Capuchin Franciscans have made it clear that their decision to close Greyfriars was not a response to this review.’

Dr Rob Ellis, Principal of Regent’s Park, said: ‘Regent’s Park College is pleased to welcome the continuing students of Greyfriars into its community and wants to assure them of a warm welcome. We are a small but vibrant community in the heart of the city, playing a full role in the life of the university, and we look forward to these transferring students joining us and adding to the already diverse student body – and enriching our academic, social, sporting and cultural life. In the next week or two various events will be staged to encourage Greyfriars’ students to begin to get a feel for life at Regent’s Park, and to begin to get to know us, and we them.’ 

The President of the Oxford University Student Union, Martin McCluskey, said: ‘Throughout the transition, OUSU’s Student Advice Service will be available to give confidential advice to any student. We’ll also be working closely with the JCR and MCR Presidents of both colleges to ensure that they’ve got all the support they need to make sure the transition goes as smoothly as possible.’

Notes

*33 undergraduates and one postgraduate will, in October 2008, need to be transferred. The undergraduates affected are studying Law, English, Classics, Theology, Philosophy and Theology, History, and History and Politics.

*There are no full-time Fellows at Greyfriars. The staff and part-time fellows are employed by the Order, not the University.

*A Permanent Private Hall is a religious hall, run by a particular Christian Order, which has been licensed by Oxford University to matriculate students and enter them for University degrees. The Capuchin Franciscan Order’s decision to end their ministry at Greyfriars means that Greyfriars will no longer continue to be a Permanent Private Hall.

*The history of Greyfriars is considerably longer than its history as a Permanent Private Hall of the University. Greyfriars became a Permanent Private Hall in 1957, began to admit lay male students in 1959 and has admitted women since the early 1990s.

*The welfare of the students and the smooth transition to being members of Regent’s Park is of paramount importance. They have been provided with all the information the University and Order currently have about the transfer. Regent’s Park will shortly lay on tours so that students can see their new Hall, while the JCR (Junior Common Room) at Regent’s will organise social events so that the students from the two Halls can get to know each other before the move takes place. The Oxford University Student Union (OUSU) has been briefed and will offer support, in addition to the welfare network provided by the University.

*Regent’s Park is the largest of the Permanent Private Halls and operates like a small college. It is an ecumenical community, with members of various Christian traditions and none. It teaches a range of subjects in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

*The teaching of Theology at Oxford is not confined to the Permanent Private Halls, nor do the Halls confine themselves to teaching only Theology. The University has the largest Theology faculty in the UK, rated 5* in the RAE, with well over 100 tutors, engaged in topics as diverse as science and religion, biblical studies, ethics, philosophy, psychology and sociology of religion, modern theology, church history, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, and Christian spirituality. There are around 350 undergraduate students (studying Theology, joint courses, and the Theology BTh) and about 180 postgraduates. Students of the Faculty are based across 14 colleges and 7 (now to be 6) Permanent Private Halls.