New Parks College will have to share Linacre dining hall until 2022

The latest update regarding the creation of Parks College, the new graduate college set to take in its first cohort in 2020, has identified the western wing of the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory as the site for Parks’ college dining room –  it will however, not be ready until 2022. The first two cohorts, therefore, will share Linacre’s dining facilities.

The recent update in the Oxford Gazette explained that when the dining hall is ready, it will be the “social hub” of the college: “During the day, it is envisaged that an area within the dining hall will be configured as a café venue for Parks College members and their guests to hold informal discussions and meetings.”

Edward Mitchell, Linacre’s CR President, told The Oxford Student: “As Linacre once was, Parks College is a fledgling graduate college and so Linacre has volunteered to help by sharing its dining facilities for the first couple of cohorts.

“Most students are very understanding — the main concerns expressed are in regards to the failure of other colleges, particularly wealthier colleges, to accommodate these new students. Keble is closer, wealthier and has a far greater dining capacity; it would make more sense for Parks College to dine with Keble.”

The Gazette also confirmed that the college will provide off-site accommodation at two sites: Farndon Court and Wellington Square. Fardon Court is scheduled to be ready by September 2020, while Wellington square will be ready by September 2022.

There will be a co-sharing system between Parks College and the Radcliffe Science Library (RSL); the main site of the college will be “in the historic Worthington and Jackson buildings of the RSL,” yet, “these buildings will continue to house the Radcliffe Science Library.”

This space sharing means that the RSL will move many of its resources to the Bodleian, retaining instead access to virtual resources such as “technology-assisted seminar and conference rooms,” “high-bandwidth WiFi” and “electronic access to journals and research monographs” that reflect the “changing needs of students and researchers”. Levels 1 and 2 of the RSL will become a “high-quality museum object store for the University’s collections”.

The Gazette goes on to say: “Library readers will enjoy facilities that better meet the needs of 21st-century science in a refurbished building; Parks College members will benefit from an on-site library run by specialist subject librarians and a museum collections centre offering access to some of the world’s most significant collections; and Bodleian and museum staff will be able to establish closer working partnerships with researchers and graduate students on areas such as open science, public engagement with research, open access and research data management”.

The Parks College programme board awaits approval from the Council, which supports the proposal subject to a report from the Parks college programme board confirming whether the college will be able to provide a satisfactory student experience in the academic year 2020. Should it not be found satisfactory, the admission of the first cohort will be postponed to the following year.

Image Creidt: N Chadwick