St Catherine's College, Oxford

St Catherine's College (also known as Catz) is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in Oxford, England and is the youngest college to teach both undergraduate and graduate students.[3] Tracing its roots back to 1868 (although the college itself was opened in 1962), it has 502 undergraduate and 442 graduate students as of December 2017[4], making it the largest undergraduate college by membership in the University of Oxford (Kellogg College has 1139 students compared to St. Catherine's 992, though it is a graduate-only college).[5]

St Catherine's College
Blazon: Sable a saltire ermine between four catherine wheels or.
LocationManor Road
Coordinates51.757066°N 1.245098°W / 51.757066; -1.245098
MottoNova et Vetera (The New and the Old)
Named forSt Catherine of Alexandria
Previous namesDelegacy of Unattached Students, Delegacy of Non-Collegiate Students, St Catharine's Club, St Catherine's Society
ArchitectArne Jacobsen
Sister collegeRobinson College, Cambridge
MasterPeter Battle (pro-master) ·
Undergraduates497[1] (December 2017)
Postgraduates409[1] (December 2017)
Endowment£84.8 million (2018)[2]
Location in Oxford city centre

The college developed out of the university's Delegacy for Unattached Students, and was founded in 1962 by the historian Alan Bullock, who went on to become the first master of the college, and later vice-chancellor of the university.


The college traces its descent from the Scholares Non Ascripti, or Delegacy for Unattached Students, founded by Statute on 11 June 1868.[6] Created in response to the recommendation of a Royal Commission in 1852, this was established as part of an expansion of the university so that male students would be able to gain an Oxford education without the costs of college membership. [7] The college therefore celebrated its 150th anniversary in the academic year 2018–2019, coinciding with the 2018 Ball 'Continuum'.

The delegacy was originally headed by two Censors, George Kitchin and George S. Ward, who oversaw the administration and welfare of the students.[8] Nineteen students matriculated in October 1868 as Scholares Non Ascripti and were joined throughout the year by another forty, bringing the total number in the first year to fifty-nine.[9] By 1914, more than 4,000 men had matriculated as non-collegiate students.[10] In 1884, the delegacy was renamed the "Delegacy for Non-Collegiate Students".[7] Due to the lack of an identifying name for social and sporting purposes, groups identified with the delegacy began using the name "St. Catharine's", taken from a hall used for boat club meetings on Catte Street.[11] In 1931 the delegacy was officially renamed the "St. Catherine's Society", with the spelling changed to "St. Catherine's". This name is also a reference to St. Catherine of Alexandria; this can also be seen in the college blazon, which depicts four Catherine wheels, one of St. Catherine's attributes. The society was thus developing the characteristics of a college, and in 1956 the delegates decided to formalise this change in status by obtaining approval to turn into a fully residential college.[12]

After acquiring 8 acres (3.2 ha) from Merton College, Oxford on part of Holywell Great Meadow for £57,690, monies were sought from the University Grants Committee who also agreed to supply £250,000 towards the building, and additional funds up to £400,000 for all facilities. By 1960 Sir Alan Bullock raised a further £1,000,000 with invaluable assistance from two industrial notables, Sir Alan Wilson (whom he met by chance on the RMS Queen Mary) and Sir Hugh Beaver. After a total expenditure of £2.5 million, the college opened in 1962. In 1974 St Catz was one of the first men's colleges to admit women as full members, the others being Brasenose, Jesus College, Hertford and Wadham.[13]


Original buildings

The college is located to the east of central Oxford, on the banks of the Cherwell. Its buildings in glass and concrete, by the Danish architect Arne Jacobsen, marry modern materials with a traditional layout around a quadrangle. Jacobsen's designs also included cutlery, furniture, and lampshades. The dining hall is notable for its Cumberland slate floor.

The original college buildings received a Grade I listing in 1993.[14] Jacobsen's plans for the college did not include a chapel: St Cross Church on the corner of Manor Road and Longwall Street served this purpose before its decommission in 2008. The St Catherine's Christmas carol concert is now held in Harris Manchester College's chapel. The college has a bell tower, particularly visible since no college building is more than three storeys high. An extra floor was reputedly planned for most accommodation blocks, but due to regulations concerning safe building on marshland, this was removed from the final design.

St Catherine's has a number of lecture theatres and seminar rooms, a music house, two student computer rooms, a small gym, squash courts, a punt house, and among the most spacious common rooms in Oxford. There are also additional purpose-built conference facilities with lecture theatres, meeting rooms and bar, and car parking available for non-students. The dining hall, which seats 350 diners, has the largest capacity of any Oxford college.[15]

The majority of St Catherine's buildings are in the form of staircases that open directly onto the quad(s) outside; these are filled with student rooms and office space. There is little indoor space in the college and St Catherine's favours a minimalist, rather austere environment, though still comfortable. Student rooms are light and spacious, notable for their curtain wall glazing.

1994 and 2004 extensions

In 1994 and 2004, the college completed construction of three and seven new accommodation staircases designed by Hodder and Partners with en-suite rooms, which means that most undergraduates can live on the main college site for the duration of their course. Prior to this, all undergraduates had the experience of living off-campus for their second year. These new staircases effectively form a second quad, which is largely used to provide accommodation for conferences during the breaks between academic terms.

Student life

The college celebrates its patron saint each year with a special Catz Night dinner, attended by junior and senior members of the college. Every three years the college also holds a ball, usually off-site due to the problem of securing the college's perimeter sufficiently for insurance purposes. St. Catherine's is also known for its more modern approaches, such as by voting to end the tradition of standing when the Master enters the hall at formal dinner[16], although most students still continue in this practice out of respect.

The Wallace Watson Award is a travel scholarship granted annually to a student or group students to undertake an expedition in a remote region of the world.

Academic reputation

In 2018, St Catherine's College ranked 3rd on the Norrington Table, with a score of 78.15%, climbing from 26th place in 2017 when it had a score of 68.68%.[17] St. Catherine's College also hosts a variety of undergraduate subjects, which can be found on its college website.[18]


St Catherine's College Boat Club is the rowing club of the college. In Torpids 2012, the men's first boat was fourth on the river and then were bumped three times, ending seventh. The first boat was then ninth on the river after being bumped in the Summer Eights.[19] The women's first boat held headship in Torpids a few years ago. In 2017, however, the women's boat managed to score an unprecedented −10 bumps (due to hitting a tree).[20] British Olympic gold medallists Sir Matthew Pinsent and Andrew Triggs Hodge, and silver medallist Colin Smith all rowed for the college.

Notable alumni

Censors, masters and fellows

List of censors

A list of the censors of the Delegacy for Unattached Students, the Delegacy for Non-Collegiate Students and St Catherine's Society.[21]

List of masters

Notable fellows


  1. "Student numbers". University of Oxford. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  2. "St Catherine's College : Financial Statements : Year ended 31 July 2018" (PDF). p. 22. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  3. "About Us". St Catherine's College. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  4. "Student numbers | University of Oxford". Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  5. "Student numbers | University of Oxford". Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  6. Stat. Tit. II. Sect. II. Cl. I Addenda ad Corpus Statutorum Universitatis Oxoniensis p.754
  7. "College History". St Catherine's College, Oxford. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  8. Trotman, R.R. & Garrett, E.J.K. The Non-Collegiate Students and St Catherine’s Society 1868–1962 (Oxford University Press, 1962)
  9. Report of the Delegati ad aedes licentiandas, (Oxford, June 1869)p.6-7
  10. Bullock, Alan (2000). "7 'A Scotch University added to Oxford'? The Non-Collegiate Students". In Brock, M. G.; Cuthoys, M. C. (eds.). Nineteenth-century Oxford. Part 2. The history of the University of Oxford. 7. p. 207. ISBN 9780199510177.
  11. Retrieved 19/01/18
  12. "College History". St. Catherine's College, Oxford website. Archived from the original on 9 November 2006. Retrieved 13 May 2007.
  13. "Women at Oxford". University of Oxford. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  14. "Listed Buildings Online – St Catherines College, Podium And All Buildings Upon It". Heritage Gateway. Retrieved 16 September 2008.
  15. "Buildings and Grounds –". University of Oxford. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  16. Turner, Camilla; Ritchie, Greg (24 January 2019). "Oxford College abandons tradition of standing to address dons at formal dinners". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  17. Ashworth, James. "St John's Tops The 2018 Norrington Table". The Oxford Student. The Oxford Student. Retrieved 20 August 2018.
  18. "Subjects". St Catherine's College. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  19. "Oxford University Rowing Clubs bumps charts". Retrieved 29 September 2012.
  20. "Oxford University Rowing Clubs bumps charts".
  21. "St Catherine's Society". Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  22. "Professor Peter Battle elected Pro-Master". St Catherine's College, Oxford. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  23. "Professor Kersti Börjars Appointed as New Master". St Catherine's College, Oxford. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  • Davies, M. & D. Creating St Catherine's College. Oxford: St Catherine's College, 1997. ISBN 0-9531279-0-7.
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