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St Hilda's College
University: University of Oxford
Address: Cowley Pl, Oxford, OX4 1DY, UK
Telephone: +44 1865 276884
Student Union/JCR website: hildasjcr.org.uk
Graduate/MCR website: no
Admittance: Men and women
St Hilda's is located on Cowley Place, across Magdalen Bridge, so most tourists tend to miss it - which in Oxford is a good thing, really. The location is very pretty: the college is right next to the river Cherwell (thankfully it's safe from flooding, though, because the meadow on the other side gets flooded instead), and from South lawn you have one of the most beautiful views of Oxford you can get. Views from the room windows can be amazing, looking either across the river or onto the squirrel rich garden.
Hilda's is frequently referred to as being one of the more remote colleges, which is technically true, as it's clearly not as central as Univ, Jesus or Trinity. Don't be misled into thinking this means Hilda's is miles away from everywhere, though. The centre of town is quite compact, actually, so the "remoteness" of Hilda's is only relative. It's actually close enough to the centre of town for the bells of Magdalen and Merton (Christ Church too, I think, but I'm not entirely sure about that) to be audible, but far enough for the ringing not to be a nuisance. Cowley Road is literally just around the corner, and as long as you're a reasonably fast walker, you can reach most other places within Oxford in 20 minutes or less. To give you a few examples, it takes less than 10 minutes to walk from Hilda's to the Exam Schools or Tesco's, about 15 to the Bodleian or Cornmarket and 20 to the English / Law Faculty building, but of course you can reduce those times by quite a bit if you get a bike, which is probably a good idea anyway.
Room size can vary quite a bit, depending on which building you're in, and sometimes even within one building. Rents for the academic year 12/13 are approximately £1150 per term. You usually only live in college rooms during your first and third year (and fourth, if applicable).
The college has a recently refurbished bar and social area (the JCR) which has a nice atmosphere. There's a pool table, TV, table tennis table, games machine, and an outdoor area connected by glass doors, with picnic tables, and steps and benches you can sit on, which backs onto the South Lawn (with views across Christ Church meadows). There is a bar and a buttery (which does toasties and bagels, for example), both of which are really good value - for example on Thursdays it's £1 a pint.
The dining hall is a big social area because in 1st year that's where you spend a lot of time with your friends. Food is good value (it's about average for Oxford colleges). Unlike every other college, the tables in the dining hall are round, which encourages conversation and bonding as you try to squeeze ever more people around your table.
Library and Computing
With about 65,000 books on three floors, cared for by several staff, St Hilda's library is, for a college, substantial. However, it is not a 24/7 library though during term time it has long opening hours (usually 8.30am to 1am), and graduate students can borrow a key if they need to use it at the dead of night. The library is located in the Hall Building and the seats on the west side of the gallery have a pleasant view towards the city centre, across the river. Several WiFi networks are available within the library, and many (but not all) of the seats have power and Ethernet sockets.
The library has a small computer room in the basement with scanning, photocopying and black & white or colour printing facilities, and there are two other IT rooms outside the library, one for undergraduates and a smaller one for graduate students. The college computers are not staggeringly fast, but certainly serviceable.
It may be worth noting that the library is almost directly above the bar - but don't worry, you can't hear any of the festivities from the library! This is a fun set-up if you're having an essay crisis and get peckish for a toastie, or even if you decide it's all too much and go for a pint.
From a biased perspective, St. Hilda's has more of an atmosphere of inclusivity than some other colleges. It was the last undergraduate college to go mixed from all-female (since Oxford was all-male for a very long time), so more most of the college's existence it was very much for "education for all genders". Following on this theme, St. Hilda's has an atmosphere of promoting equal rights and schemes to create a fair working and studying environment, for example the JCR has recently been successful in campaigning for the Living Wage for employees of the college.
Having been founded in 1893, Hilda's is a relatively new college, which can reduce the Oxford-stereotypical air of grandeur. It's not the most beautiful of colleges (not quite the , but it sits on its very own stretch of river, has a conservatory across the front of its dining hall, and has 6 resident punts which are free to use in the summer.
The atmosphere in St. Hilda's is incredibly friendly, and by having corridors instead of staircases like most colleges, there are more people around you to make friends with. Everyone is approachable, and the support network of staff is fantastic. The publication 'The Loo News', a weekly reverse-of-toilet-doors newsletter, is an example of the St. Hilda's spirit of not taking yourself too seriously, but getting involved in the community spirit and enjoying everything you do.
St. Hilda's has an ideal location directly next to the Iffley gym, and fields teams for rowing, rugby, pool and football. Being a student at st. Hilda's also gives you free access to the Iffley Road Gym (swim and fitness) and you can add weights to this for just £50 a year.
There's a tennis court that double as a netball court, which can be booked by any Hilda's student.
Images coming soon!