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Balliol is among Oxford's oldest colleges, and has a central position as a result. The lodge is found on Broad St, close to St Giles and Cornmarket.
The College provides rooms for its students on the main Balliol site for two years of their degree, typically their first year and then either their third or fourth year (students on four year courses get to choose which year they return to college). When students are not living in College, there are two options for them to choose, both of which have their own advantages. Students either live in Jowett Walk, the College-owned flats five minutes walk away, or 'live out' in a house with their friends in one of the student areas of the city. There's a wide range of choice to suit all price ranges and if you find yourself struggling with the cost then the College has a generous programme of financial support.
In their first year, all students are guaranteed a room on the Balliol main site. This provides a fantastic opportunity to get to know everyone else in your year and helps foster a real sense of community. All of the rooms in College are nice ones, and there are both en-suite rooms and those with shared facilities.
When students move back into College in their third or fourth year they get to choose their own room, which is different from in the first year where you are assigned a room before coming to Oxford. All of the rooms are lovely, but compared to first year rooms there is quite a large variation in room size. However, the benefit of this is that it is reflected in their prices. This means that you can always get a room to suit your budget. The College also has a significant programme of financial support so that all students can afford their Oxford experience.
Many second and third years live in Jowett Walk, which is a complex of flats five minutes walk from Balliol. The flats are either five, six or seven person, and everyone gets their own individual room with en-suite shower and toilet facilities, and there is a shared kitchen in each flat. The main advantage of living in Jowett Walk is convenience- it's located right in the centre of the city, near to Balliol and also closer to many subject libraries than if you were living out. Another benefit is that you can choose the length of your lease- either you can get a 27 week lease (meaning you have to move out over the holidays), or a 36 week lease which is more expensive but means you can use your room throughout the academic year.
Alternatively, many people choose to live out in a house with their friends in one of the 'student' areas of Oxford. People choose to live out for a number of different reasons. It generally means you have a bit more freedom than living in College-owned accommodation, because the leases tend to be for a whole year meaning that you can come and go as you please throughout the vacations. Another benefit is that most student houses have communal living areas, which means that when you're free it's good fun just to sit around and chat or watch TV. It also gives you an experience of the 'real' world- having to deal with landlords, contracts, broken freezers and the occasional neighbour- which you don't get living in College accommodation. Most of all it's a great opportunity to spend a year living with your friends and having fun!
The JCR (Junior Common Room) is a large room located in Staircase 15, right in the centre of the college. The JCR is the space where students can go to relax- students can sit around with their friends and chat, read the newspapers which are provided free of charge, and have something to eat! Balliol is unique in that we have our very own student owned cafe (affectionately known as Pantry) which is located in the JCR. Pantry sells breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, alongside snacks and drinks throughout the day. All the food and drink here is sold at subsidised prices because it doesn't aim to make a profit, and as a result the JCR is often full of people at lunchtime and in the evening, sitting around, chatting and eating.
The JCR is also used for a variety of different activities. There are often film nights in the JCR, and big events such as Eurovision and large sporting occasions are shown live, drawing in huge crowds. The JCR is also where we hold our 'bops'. Bops are large, themed fancy dress parties which are held a couple of times a term, where people can dance, drink and chat to each other. Bops are a great way to meet people from other years, and foster a real sense of community.
We are also one of the only JCRs to run our own student bar. The bar is conveniently located under the JCR, and serves a wide range of alcoholic and soft drinks. It also has a dukebox, a quiz machine, darts, table football and a pool table! There are a number of benefits to having a student run bar. The prices tend to be cheaper than elsewhere in Oxford, because the bar isn't attempting to make large amounts of profit. As a result, it's typically one of the most active bars across the university. The entire thing is run by (elected) students, and it is students who are employed behind the bar. That means that there is always a friendly face behind the bar, and if you want to earn some extra money whilst studying, you can get work behind the bar.
Balliol has a well stocked library, with sections for most subjects. It is open 24/7, and staffed throughout the week. The Balliol library also lets you borrow books, allowing you to work elsewhere if you choose. The college is located in the centre of Oxford, and as a result many of the subject libraries are within a five to ten minute walk. This means that you are never far away from the resources you need, and they can be accessed easily.
The College has a number of thriving computer rooms equipped with email terminals, scanners, DVD- and CD-writers and PC computers. The latter Windows XP computers are networked to high quality laser printers. There is no charge currently for the use of computing facilities within the College except for printing.
Music and Drama
There is a music room in college which can be used for free by members of the music society (which can be joined for a nominal fee) where you can rehearse, and which includes a piano. We also have student choir, which rehearses during the week and then sings every Sunday at the chapel service. The college is a short walk away from the Sheldonian theatre, where concerts are often performed, and there are a range of other music venues close by. The college also has its own theatre at Jowett Walk. A number of plays are put on here each year, including the college Charity Musical which takes place annually.
Balliol has a range of welfare provisions, whether you have a serious personal issue you need to sort out or are just feeling a bit down and fancy a chat. The JCR has two dedicated welfare officers, known as the DRs WHO (Welfare and Housing Officers), who can be contacted either in person, by email, or by “pidging” them a note, which can even be done anonymously if you want. The DRs WHO also have a team of officers known as the Welfare Subcommittee, which consists of Peer Supporters, who have all received specialist welfare training from the University, as well as the Women’s Officers and the LGBTQ Officers. Like the DRs WHO, these students can all be approached no matter how big or small you feel your issue is, and unless they feel that your health is in danger what you discuss will always remain anonymous.
At Oxford, you’ll also be lucky enough to have two sets of student parents! Your subject parents are there to help you with any issue you may have concerning your subject, from reading lists to tutors. They’ll also be the ones who’ll help you through the exam period, from pidging you sugary treats to buying you your first carnation. Your general parents are also there if you need any advice, and will always be more than happy to answer any questions you have.
If you feel uncomfortable speaking to students about your problems, the college also has a number of staff specially trained to help you. The Chaplain should be your first point of call: he/she has an open-door policy, whether you have a serious issue and don’t know where to turn or just need someone to talk with to clear your head. The college nurse can help with a wide range of health matters and concerns, and can also advise you on the university’s counseling services, while you can also make an appointment with the college doctors at 19 Beaumont Street if you feel like you need to.
No matter how big or small you feel your issue is, Balliol has an open and welcoming atmosphere that means that there is always someone you can approach, at almost any time of the day or night. Despite our size we have a reputation as having one of the closest and tightly-knit college communities, and you should never feel like you’ve got no-one to turn to
Balliol is one of the friendliest colleges in the university. We have an active student body and there is a real sense of community here- everyone comes together for big events such as open mic nights, charity auctions, sports events and bops! Balliol is also one of the least traditional colleges- you never have to wear your gown to dinner, and you are allowed to walk and sit on the grass. Our hall is relatively informal and during the summer months, students are able to sit out on the back quad and relax with their friends, do some work or have something to eat. Our strong academic tradition coupled with our vibrant community makes Balliol the ideal place to come and study.
Balliol has a wide-ranging sporting pedigree, and prides itself on its sporting excellence. In recent years there has been notable success in men’s football, as well as strong cup performances from the men’s cricket and mixed athletics teams. Balliol also has a long history of rowing triumph, with both the men’s and women’s 1st VIII regularly finishing in the top 10 at the summer regatta. There are also strong teams for both men and women in a range of other sports including hockey, rugby, squash, netball and cricket. Most of the teams compete in inter-college leagues weekly throughout the first two terms of the year, and there is also a knockout cup (‘cuppers’) in each sport.
Balliol also greatly encourages inclusivity in sport at any level. The college second teams operate on a casual basis where everyone gets a game, as well as allowing people to get noticed for the first team if they wish. The last few years have also seen the foundation of new teams in mixed lacrosse and Ultimate Frisbee by students, supported financially by the college with the intention of getting as many people playing as many sports as possible. The college also financially assists any sportsperson who competes at a Blues level for the university, and Balliol boasts a strong history of university-level sporting alumni.
The home of sport in Balliol is the Jowett Walk annexe, which is one of the closest sports grounds to the centre of the city of any college in Oxford. This is where the football pitch is located, along with two squash courts, a basketball/netball court and both an artificial and a grass tennis court. In the summer term this is also where the college’s cricket matches are played, complimented by a recently refurbished pavilion. College rugby matches are played in the University Parks, while hockey takes place on the astro turf pitch at the Iffley Road sports complex. Other college sports facilities include two gyms, one on the college main site and one at the Holywell Manor postgraduate site, both of which are open to all college members.