University of Oxford: Guide & Discussion Forum
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Oxford's youngest and smallest college has a lot to be proud of considering its youth. An attractive location, impressive architecture and a fierce intellectual pedigree combine to make Mansfield a force at the forefront of moving Oxford into the 21st century
The college can be found in the centre of Oxford, but is situated on a surprisingly quiet road that not many tourists find.
Right opposite the Postgrad centre, I can't remember the name, which means if you make friends with the postgrads you can get into what I think is the most incredible sports centre and bar I've seen in all my trawlings of uni open days. I did have to sneak in to see it though.
Mansfield sets its accommodation fee as an 'average' of the fee charged by other colleges in Oxford. This is because, as a smaller college, Mansfield effectively receives money from the larger more affluent colleges and so does not want to be seen as taking advantage by charging the least for accommodation. The current fee is about £1150 per term.
The college provides everyone with a room on the main site in their 1st year, of which some are huge, but all are decent sized. The majority of first year students are allocated single en-suite rooms (one benefit of being a 'newer' college). Everyone is also entitled to a college room either in the main site, in a college owned block in Cowley (Ablethorpe) or in a college owned house in their 3rd year (or 4th year if you're doing a 4 year course) and there is a ballot to decide who gets to live where. We have to live out in the 2nd year and most people end up renting houses with friendship groups and paying at least £4000 in rent plus bills - however this is for a 12 month tenancy, rather than just term time, useful if you're preparing for finals.
The non-ensuite rooms have a sink, and have shared bathrooms with a maximum of 4. The baths are surprisingly clean for shared baths, the cleaners (or scouts as they are called) will clean shared ones daily (I think) and ensuites, along with all the rooms, weekly. The shower is in the bath if you see what I mean, not a separate unit. A - D block are shared, E and the Garden Building are ensuite, but you don't get a choice as to which building you stay in. The ensuite rooms are smaller, so you're either getting a large room, or an ensuite.
Mansfield undergraduates living in off-site college accommodation pay the same accommodation fee as those living on-site, but have the benefit of keeping their rooms during the long breaks between terms. In the Ablethorpe annexe, single bed sitting rooms with shared self-catering and bathroom facilities for Visiting Students was £391.50 per month including utilities on a 9 month tenancy.
The rooms go from small (one bed size) to large. Large rooms will normally have two single beds in them, but are still single occupancy. Students are known to push single beds together to create a makeshift double bed. The small rooms aren't even that small. The standard kit is a bed, desk, chair and wardrobe. You are allowed your own kettle and to rent a mini(notsomini)-fridge from college, but you're not allowed a toaster. There are three kitchens for students on the main college site. Since the college is small it is possible for everyone to use these kitchens. There are many more kitchens in the off-site accommodation.
Your room gets cleaned every week with a hoovering and your bathroom cleaned, and if you leave your bin out the night before it will be empty by the time you wake up. The cleaning staff have been known to knock and walk straight in but if you don't mind someone seeing you passed out from the night before this won't matter, and it's rare anyway.
I was told you can expect to budget about £200 a month on stuff apart from accommodation if you don't go out that much. If you do go out a lot, push that up to £300 perhaps.
Mansfield supposedly has some of the best food in Oxford - because it's not got as many people as some of the bigger colleges, the food tends to be better made. When students from other colleges eat at Mansfield they often comment about the good quality of food and wide range of options.
Unlike some colleges there is no requirement to pay for blocks of meals in advance. You go to hall when you want to, not because you need to. There are a lot of different options to choose from when you do go, and each option varies in price so you can choose how much you want to spend on food.
All the food you eat goes on to your college bill (your 'battels') which you pay at the end of term.
The hall is really pretty, with a gorgeous ceiling. It's also small enough that you don't feel like you're in some overwhelmingly posh place.
No-one has breakfast in hall, but it's always available if you want it. Brunch (ie a full cooked breakfast) is much more popular and available on Saturdays.
Formal hall is twice a week, Wednesday and Friday. The 3 course is £9, the 4 course 'formal formal' is more expensive and happens twice a term.
The bar is pretty small and staffed by students. A pint of Carlsberg costs £1.50, pint of cider £1.20. Pub quizzes, karaoke nights, and much more has recently started happening.
The JCR is HUGE. One of the smallest colleges has one of the largest JCRs. The JCR has been refurbished, and has two sofas, lots of chairs, a pool table, a ping pong table, some games machines, a tv, a dvd player and a radio. It's where the bops are held, and it's a great place just to hang out, people can normally be found there. Did I mention it's huge?
You're not allowed to walk on some of the grass (unless it's summer and you're playing croquet!). Other grass is fair game though.
The chapel is absolutely beautiful, and it's got a piano that you can use as long as it's not in use and you request the key from the porters. You can practice other musical instruments in the chapel as well.
Library and Computing
There's three libraries, a main one, a law one, and a theology one. You can access these libraries 24/7, using the key you'd use for your room. You can also check online if they have the book you need before you go.
There's also a small computing suite, with maybe 10 computers and 2 printers. There is also a scanner/photocopier machine.
The chaplain is called Tanya, and is absolutely lovely. She's very kind and understanding. There's also a...welfare tutor, for want of a better term, who is again, lovely. The JCR (that's the students) have a womens rep, mens rep and lgbtq rep, all of whom are wonderful, and all members of the JCR have had welfare training.
Basically, they're all lovely.
Seeing as the college is so small the social dynamic seems to vary quite a bit from year to year. I feel like I know most of my year, but regularly go out with the same group of people (which is fine by me) and a lot of my year appear to be the same, but in the other years people seem to socialise in larger, more random (spontaneous) groups. Though on the whole everyone knows each other and there are usually a group of people in the bar who will then go on somewhere, so you should be able to find a group of people to go out with when you want to.
Due to being so small, you won't just befriend your year group, you'll get to know everyone pretty well, and there's lots to do other than work.
The college doesn't have any of it's own sports facilities, except for sharing a boathouse with St Hildas and a playing field rented off Merton. There's lots of sport going on though, and our netball team do very well. We have rugby, rowers, football, pretty much everything really. Since the college doesn't have its own gym it is obliged to pay for use of the university gym for anyone that wants to use it.
Mansfield is not particularly renowned for its musical tradition but there are still plenty of opportunities to get involved in music. We have our own choir, which is non-auditioning and fairly laid-back, or there are lots of other choirs, some more impressive, at other colleges and university based choirs that sings all different styles of music. We don't have an orchestra/band but there are uni based orchestras generally aimed for those of grade 8+ standard, as well as more relaxed ones in other colleges that you can join. There is also a huge range of uni-wide bands, groups and ensembles. We have a beautiful grand piano in the chapel which you can practise on.
To be honest, a lot of people don't put it as first choice, but far more should, it is by far the most beautiful of the non-medieval colleges, and of course significantly less oversubscribed than the medieval colleges. It is very pretty, has old looking buildings, and it seems much more spacious than a lot of other colleges considering its size (though we don't have great gardens like Trinity or anything - its the non enclosed large circular quad that does it). A decent place for sport, though due to the small amount of people it depends on your intake, but very nice if you want a modern college with a sociable feel.
- Principal: Baroness Helena Kennedy
- Undergraduates: ~200
- Graduates: ~70