More than just a hall

June 20, 2003

Lord Robin Butler is a college man who has seen the writing on the wall for the current Oxford system.

He studied at University College, Oxford, in the 1960s, went on to become head of the civil service, and is now master of his old college.

He is busy ensuring that his college does not become, in Sir Alan Budd's words, just a "hall of residence".

Sir Robin agreed that more needed to be done for postgraduates. "I think Oxford has come late to providing this because graduates were an add-on to what was traditionally an undergraduate university.

"But much more is being done. In University College, we have made a big effort to provide better academic support and social, academic and cultural activities for graduates over the years."

A joint initiative by fellows in University College, Corpus Christi College and Merton College has been to set up a new Centre for Ethics and Legal Philosophy. "Its significance is that it is based on the three colleges where much of the academic activity in the way of seminars takes place and is a focus for graduate and postgraduate studies."

The college also has a number of other initiatives in the pipeline. "The point of all this is to reinforce the colleges as centres of academic activity, building on the strengths of individual fellows," Sir Robin said.

"We have been amazed at how potent this idea has been in attracting the support of old members."

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