Panoramic of the new Back Quad at Wadham College
The completion of the Back Quad project is a powerful statement of Wadham's commitment to its Access to Excellence programme.

Chancellor opens new 'Back Quad' buildings at the heart of Wadham's commitment to broadening access

The ‘Back Quad’ project is part of the College’s Access to Excellence programme, which supports young people from the moment they consider university, through their time at Oxford and on into their careers.

Wadham College has celebrated the official opening of its new 'Back Quad' buildings, welcoming Lord Patten of Barnes, Chancellor of the University of Oxford, to cut the ribbon.

Lord Patten joined Alastair Locke on October 7 as well as more donors and friends of Wadham College to open the first dedicated access facility in Oxford, the Locke Access Centre, along with the Dr Lee Shau Kee Building and the William Doo Undergraduate Centre.

This, the first and only dedicated Access Centre in Oxford, is a powerful statement about Wadham’s continued commitment to Access to Excellence

Wadham College's Warden, Robert Hannigan

The Locke Access Centre in the Dr Lee Shau Kee Building is the purpose-built hub for Wadham's extensive school outreach work. During 2021-2022, Wadham has led 136 events involving 4,400 school students. Of these events, 47 were in College and 1,200 pupils from years 7-13 were welcomed to inspiration days, summer schools and academic taster days.

Lord Patten said: ‘We all know that one of the most important ways of encouraging social mobility is by ensuring that everyone has the best possible education. I am very grateful to everyone who has made Wadham one of the vanguard colleges in achieving the successes we have had in opening up to kids of every possible background… and the result should be seen in a generation of better educated young people who are more able to fulfil their potential and in fulfilling their potential, to help the community both here and abroad.’

Image of students working in the Undergraduate CentreStudents in the Undergraduate Centre. Image: John Cairns
Wadham College's Warden, Robert Hannigan, added: 'This, the first and only dedicated Access Centre in Oxford, is a powerful statement about Wadham’s continued commitment to Access to Excellence. Over the past seven years we have engaged 37,000 school students and we have held around 1,000 events at Wadham and in schools for those students. We have deep partnerships with the schools in our link areas. We are very proud of what we’ve achieved but we also have great ambitions for the future, as there is a lot still to do on social mobility.'

Robert Hannigan, and Honorary Fellow and Warden from 2012-2021, Ken Macdonald KC, thanked all those who worked to make the new buildings possible: architects AL_A, who achieved the vision for the buildings; Beard Construction, who took forward the project; and colleagues and supporters, without whom it would not have happened.

The William Doo Undergraduate Centre provides College students with high-quality facilities for social and academic interaction that will enhance their experience at Oxford.

Image of ribbon being cut by Alastair Locke (left) and Lord Patten at official opening of Wadham's new Back Quad Alastair Locke (left) and Lord Patten cut the ribbon
These innovative buildings also contain 20 new disability-accessible student bedrooms with facilities for full-time carers; a new junior common room, student cafe and bar, and flexible study and social spaces.

The development also accommodates seminar and teaching rooms, a music room and administrative office space. Wadham’s community is committed to reducing impact on the environment and sustainability was central to the building’s construction.

Pioneering programme

The completion of the Back Quad project is a powerful statement of Wadham's commitment to its Access to Excellence programme.

The official opening was preceded by an Access to Excellence Summit, which reflected on the impact of this pioneering programme and the direction for the future. 

Access to Excellence supports young people from when they first consider university; through their time at Oxford; and on into their careers. This programme has shown that reaching out to the widest number of students improves academic performance at Oxford; and that the power of effective outreach can change lives.

Access to Excellence SummitAccess to Excellence Summit
At the summit, Warden Robert Hannigan hosted a panel of speakers which included Dr Louise Ashley, Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary University, London who shared the headlines from a decade of research on diversity and inclusion in higher education and in the City, and Nik Miller, Chief Executive, The Bridge Group who located the College’s work in the wider policy landscape. They were joined by Karishma Khosla (Law, 2019), Wadham SU Access Officer; Faheem Khan, Head Teacher (Woodbridge School in Wadham’s link area); Margaret Leach, Diversity and Global Recruitment Advisor (Linklaters); and Dr Hugh Munro (Tutor for Access).

Find out more: Wadham Opens Oxford’s First Dedicated Access Centre