Following the acquisition of a second building at Norham Gardens, students of all sexes will be able to apply to the Permanent Private Hall from the 2015 admissions cycle.
In a statement to the Oxford Student, Professor Werner Jeanrond, the Master of St. Benet’s, wrote:
“Everybody in St. Benet’s is delighted that we have finally identified a building that would allow us to admit female students for the academic year 2016-2017. We have been working for this for a long time and are so happy that we are now getting there”.
Jeanrod, also a Professor of Theology, added: “Equality is written into the University’s strategic plan and we are now committed to raising the funds needed to make the next move happen”.
These changes will make St Benet’s the final PPH to admit women, coming 95 years after women were first permitted to become full members of the University.
The Norham Gardens building will house around 20 male and female undergraduates, with money raised from donors and alumni to purchase and renovate the property. The building will also be used for teaching, research and administrative purposes.
St Benet’s currently admits about 18 male students each year for studies in the humanities, with a further 10 students completing graduate studies. Benet’s admitted its first female graduate student in 2014.
St Benet’s first year Dominic Abbot told the Oxford Student: “This isn’t necessarily representative of the entire hall, but I am one of many who are delighted that St Benet’s is finally introducing female undergraduates.”
“I for one am incredibly glad that the Hall has found a way to combine equality and the monastic life, which forbids monks from living under the same roof as women. Overall, it’s brilliant!”
The building at Norham Gardens is being purchased from the Society of the Sacred Heart, an international order of women in the Catholic Church. The Society’s sisters are planning to leave Oxford.
Sister Jane Maltby, the Provincial of the England-Wales province of the Society said in a press release: “Although we are sad to be leaving Oxford after over eighty years of supporting women’s higher education, the Benedictine spirit of community and commitment to education will further the aspirations we have always striven to achieve”.
All Oxford colleges have been co-educational since 2008, with St Hilda’s the last remaining all-female college.