University of Oxford: Guide & Discussion Forum
Courses: for more information on courses, click here
Colleges: for more information on colleges, click here
St Hugh's College
University: University of Oxford
Address: St Hugh's College, St Margaret's Road, Oxford, OX2 6LE UK
Telephone: +44 1865 274900
Student Union/JCR website: http://www.hughsjcr.com
Graduate/MCR website: no
Admittance: Men and women
St Hugh's College is located roughly 15 minutes' walk from the city centre in the largely residential northern Oxford. Its distance from the city centre gives rise to a strong student community as well as allowing the college to have some of the most spectacular and extensive grounds in the whole of the University. St Hugh's has a great reputation for being a friendly and open college with the students themselves having arguably the best social lives in the University! The short distance from the city also means that you are not constantly bothered by tourists or that many bells for that matter (it can be quite unpleasant in the city centre if you are not used to it), however the distance is short enough not to be much of an issue, especially if you own a bike (which most Oxford students do).
One of the great selling points of St Hugh's is that accommodation is guaranteed on college for all members for the ENTIRE duration of their course, something which few other colleges can offer (and prospective students should be aware of this). As St Hugh's is one of the newer colleges it does not suffer from some of the problems the older colleges do in terms of small rooms and poor facilities. All rooms in college are of a decent size and more importantly are of a more uniform size within each building - so you wont be stuck with a broom cupboard! For undergraduates accommodation is within 6 buildings in the college (4 of which are connected together). 1st year undergraduates will mainly be housed in Main Building, Kenyon Building or Wolfson Building. These tend not to be the grandest of rooms in the college, but their layouts add to a very close knit community and ensures you get to know lots of your year very quickly. Second years have more of a choice where they choose to live as they are subject to the room ballot system (which is based on your surname). Finalists get preference over the coveted Maplethorpe Building.
Main Building - MB
Main Building is a first year haven. It is almost entirely inhabited by first years which makes sure that you get to know plenty of people in your year. The building itself houses the college offices, halls, kitchens and chapel, and so it tends to be quite a lively place and if you live there you are always close to important places in college (notably the hall (for food) and the lodge (so when you lock yourself out at night there isn’t far to go)). If you choose not to eat in hall then college provides communal kitchen facilities and in main building there is one kitchen per floor which can make kitchens a hub of activity especially around meal times. MB's kitchens are understandably quite large and so are ideal for congregating spaces. One of the main downsides to MB is that the rooms are slightly smaller than the college average and that the rooms do not have sinks in them (something almost all other rooms in college have). However, the first floor of MB has recently been renovated, meaning that the toilets and bathrooms are almost brand new and tend to be the best non-ensuite facilities in college.
Mary Gray Allen Wing - MGA
MGA as it is more commonly known is very much like an extension of Main Building and forms a thoroughfare from MB to the rest of the college. It is very much a contrast to MB in that MGA tends to be a preserve of the 2nd years and that as a result it is largely quiet and peaceful. It is rare for a first year to be assigned a room in MGA and because of this few freshers venture up into MGA. The rooms are more ornate than in MB and are quite sizeable, but, similarly to MB, not all MGA rooms have sinks. If you manage to get a south facing room in MGA then you arguably have one of the best rooms in college as the views of the college grounds are simply spectacular. Kitchens in MGA are of a decent size and are well furnished.
Rachel Trickett Building - RTB
A handful of first years live in RTB but other than that few freshers will venture deep into RTB simply because it is a nightmare to navigate. It is a relatively new building and houses both the JCR and Bar so is always close to those essential amenities. Kitchens are quite good and the main selling point here is en suite bathrooms in quite a few of the rooms. It is very rare that a fresher will get an en suite room, as these are snatched up very quickly in the room ballot. There are also several flats in this building which means that you and a friend can share which can be slightly more social.
Wolfson is a strange place. It is somewhere that first years are assigned; however, even though it might not have the best rooms in college, second years are very drawn to it for its vibrant social life. Wolfson is arranged in staircases of 8 rooms and every year there is the ‘party’ staircase which has legendary ‘house’ parties. Lots of rooms in Wolfson also have their own balcony too which is quite a bonus to freshers and is more or less the only chance a fresher has of getting a balcony! Wolfson does have some pretty major issues though. The kitchens are microscopic, the bathrooms aren't great and it’s in a bit of a state of disrepair but college are getting round to redecorating it so in the mean time we just put up posters and pictures to make the place look homely.
Fortress Kenyon... You will either love it or hate it. Its ‘interesting’ concrete construction makes it stand out in the landscape but inside its homely feel (once you get over the fact that it looks like a car park) and generally first year contingent make it a great place to be. It has sinks throughout and, like Wolfson, tiny kitchens and rather shabby bathrooms/toilets, but the rooms are spacious and well furnished with cushioned seating by the window that can double up as a bed when people come round to stay. There is also a larger kitchen in the basement with its own dining table and chairs which tends to get busier if people have friends round - this can be used by anyone in the building (and tends to be, due to the size of the kitchens on the floors above). KB is almost like a self contained unit with its own laundry facilities which is useful considering it is not directly linked to the rest of college so on rainy days there is a bit of a mad dash over the 20m or so to get to cover! Pre-bop nights see Kenyon get very lively indeed with the ground floor space being used as a congregation space for most of the freshers. KB is also home to the 'death slide' - something which becomes much more fun after a night out...!
Maplethorpe Building - MTB
Taken from the Fresher’s Guide 2007 - “Apparently, fewer people are eaten by sharks than are kicked to death by donkeys each year. Even fewer freshers, i.e. none, manage to get a room in Maplethorpe”. It tends to be (for some at least) the place to aspire to as it has en-suite throughout and “sexy” kitchens, though some (myself included) prefer some of the older rooms in college with a bit more character!
The Woodstock Houses are lesser known throughout college. Also called the 'quiet houses', these large Victorian houses owned by (and part of) college surround the grounds and house a few students. House 82 is the busiest (and friendliest), usually with freshers in the basement and the rest of the house being taken up by second and third years. There is a homely feel to these - a massive kitchen with dining table, bathrooms that you'd probably see in a house and the hallways which can be used as communal spaces all contribute to this. There are downsides - the floorboards are excessively creaky and people have been known to move out because they were disturbed by the noise. The house is also home to a couple of pianos which can mean things get fairly noisy upstairs, but people tend to be thoughtful about this. Room sizes vary from tiny to enormous, so there's a lot of variation.
2 studios, 67 ensuite rooms, 15 rooms with shared facilities.
The St Hugh’s JCR is located centrally in college on top of the bar in the RTB building. It is essentially a very large conservatory with chairs, lots and lots of squishy leather sofas, tables, central AC/heating and a huge widescreen TV. It tends to be quite a good congregating space and a fantastic place to just relax and unwind maybe talking to a few friends. Sport is always on at the weekends which attracts quite a crowd. The Wii is also popular with the students - Guitar Hero seems to be in demand during and after BOPs. Film nights are usually held on Fridays, showing 'good bad films',  again attracting a crowd.
The St Hugh’s Bar sits underground, under the JCR. It is a massive space and this is used for BOPs (big JCR organised parties we have roughly every fortnight - more often than a lot of colleges). The selection of alcohol isn’t too bad and the prices are much cheaper than in pubs and clubs. It has just been redecorated and is home to an abundance of sofas, tables and comfy bar stools so has a homely feel. The Bar is also home to the Open Mic nights and occasionally jazz nights, and is usually a hub of activity in the eveings. In the buttery (a side room) there is table football and pool, along with a few arcade machines. The quiz machine always attracts a decent crowd and the college operates a reasonably successful darts team.
As per all Oxford colleges there is a hall which we use for eating. Meals are served 3 times a day except at weekends when a monster brunch is served as the only meal. Meals are paid for on a cash basis using your university card which you top up online. Café items can also be purcahsed in the morning, and in the afternoon snacks are sold like chips, eggs etc. Formal Hall runs once a week and is reasonably cheap with excellent food. Great place to meet some friends and discuss some philosophical topic over dinner!
St Hugh’s is situated on a massive 14 acre site, which includes large green areas which students are free to roam (most colleges ban students from walking on the grass). The college also has 2 tennis courts which can serve as basketball/netball courts.
Library and Computing
With its roots as one of the main northern colleges and having served nearly 100 years as a women’s college (women were not allowed into the central university libraries until relatively recently) St Hugh’s college library is one of the best stocked and most attractive libraries in Oxford. The library is open 24 hours a day to members of the college and is only closed 2 days a year. If you need any books you can request them to the librarian who will (if it is a reasonable request) get the books in or give you book vouchers to source the book for the library.
Superfast internet access is available for free in all the rooms. There is no bandwidth limit set down but excessive usage in peak times is discouraged and can result in fines. Illegal use of the internet will also incur penalties, some as severe as rustication (suspension) and expulsion. The IT office works normal office hours and will help with any queries/problems. They also sell Ethernet cable at very reduced prices compared to the high street. Computers must be registered with the college before they can be used on the network (a process usually only taking a few minutes to complete – checking for virus scanners, illegal software and current updates).
The college employs a professional councillor and nurse to deal with any problems you might have as well as a doctor coming in to run a surgery twice a week. A senior tutor is also on hand to discuss any queries you might have with your academic work that you might not want to discuss with your subject tutor (though they are often a good person to start with) The College Chaplain is around during the day and he is there to discuss with you any issues irrespective of your faith background. The JCR has specific committee positions for welfare for both males and females who are on hand to discuss your problems and they organise various awareness events and the weekly welfare supper. On top of all this the college operates a family policy where 2 members of the year above usually both doing your subject come together and act as parents to you and usually one or two siblings. This means before you arrive you have people looking out for you and if you have any nagging questions you can ask them. Family bonds can last just a few weeks or can last quite often for years and can result in generations of family history.
The atmosphere at St Hugh’s is very open and laid back. Unlike some colleges which actively promote a super high work ethic (cough Merton cough) St Hugh’s prefers not to overly pressurise students – this is not to mean they don’t expect high standards! Being outside the city centre means you can avoid some of the fast paced life of the city whilst being close enough to enjoy the good things about it.
For those of you keen on your fitness St Hugh’s has a modest gym in the depths of RTB though describing its location can be quite tricky! It has a limited range of facilities available but it is well equipped enough for the rowers to train in so it can’t be that bad! For the rowers amongst you there is also a dedicated erg room in college.
St Hugh’s shares a massive boathouse at the top of the boathouse stretch with St Anne’s and Wadham. St Hugh’s has a strong tradition in rowing dating back to its days as a women’s college as head of the river.
St Hugh’s again shares its sports pitches but has football, cricket and rugby pitches available. Squash courts are shared with Wolfson college only a short distance away and more or less every conceivable sport is catered for at St Hugh’s in some form or other – if it isn’t you can get money to start it up if you can show some interest!
Most musical events are organised by St Hugh's Music Society . The college orchestra meets on Monday nights at 7pm (with free mini muffins/doughnuts/flapjacks in the break). Generally orchestra puts on two or three concerts a year. In Hilary term there's also a chamber concert in the Principal's [very lovely] music room, as well as a choral concert in the chapel.
St Hugh's Chapel Choir meets on Fridays at 5pm and Sundays at 4pm, followed by evensong at 6.15pm. Perks include a ridiculous amount of free food (two meal vouchers for hall, supper after chapel on Sunday, a formal hall every term, and many cups of tea!) as well as an excuse to wear your gown every week. Four choral scholarships are given out every year, as well as an organ scholarship. There are three organ scholars at any one time (one in each year), and they're responsible for choosing the music and conducting the choir.
Other groups include: Cantabile, a close harmony group for female singers who fancy something a bit more challenging; St Hugh's String Quartet; an auditioned jazz/popular music choir, and anything else anyone cares to set up!
If you're into rock and indie, it doesn't matter what college you're in. You'll find people out of college. There was an all Hugh's band called Moon Unit who were...interesting. There are some good bands out there with Hugh's members though. One of the guys in the Young Playthings, who are fairly well known, is a Hugh's postgrad, as well as a Junior Dean. Believe. Hugh's has fairly regular open mic nights in the bar in which any bands, soloists etc. can perform.
We have a practice room, which can be accessed by asking the porters for the key between 6pm-10pm. It isn't as good as the band room at, say, New, but it has a drum-kit and some pianos (including a Steinway, though it's a tad old). If you're a pianist of over Grade 6 standard, contact the president of St Hugh's Music Society and you can arrange to get access to the new practice room in Main Building. This has a very shiny lovely upright piano and can be used all hours of the day. There's also a wonderful piano in the Morden Hall which is wheeled out for concerts and is beautiful and was purchased fairly recently. The Chapel is also open at all hours for practice on the piano there.
As a student at St Hugh’s I can say it has been fun. I’ve never had a dull moment whilst I've been here and the people are just great. The distance from the town centre is of no issue to me, it’s something you get used to very quickly and lets face it – it isn’t that far!