University of Oxford: Guide & Discussion Forum
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University: University of Oxford
Address: Walton Street, Oxford, OX1 2HB, UK
Telephone: +44 1865 278300
Student Union/JCR website: jcr.worc.ox.ac.uk
Graduate/MCR website: no
Admittance: Men and women
One of Oxford's hidden gems, Worcester is safely off the tourist trail whilst being conveniently close to the city centre (approx. 7 minutes), Gloucester Green coach station (approx. 2 minutes), and Oxford train station (approx. 8 minutes). The Bodleian Library, Weston Library, Radcliffe Camera, and the Oxford Union are also within close walking distance, no more than 10 minutes walk away. Moreover, Worcester is within a five minute walk of a two supermarkets (Sainsbury's Local and Tesco Metro), two Odeon cinemas, the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford Playhouse, and New Theatre. Worcester is also amongst the closest colleges to Oxford's nightclubs, making for a quick dash to the front of the queue. Jericho, Oxford's well-to-do area for students and young professionals, is within 5 to 10 minutes walk bringing with it the benefit of access to Oxford's best ice cream parlours, cafes, cocktail venues, and pubs.
All Worcester undergraduates can be accommodated, if they wish, for the duration of their degree. Accommodation greatly varies across the college from rooms in 12th century cottages to brand new buildings and rooms which have been completely stripped and refurbished. 72% of undergraduates have ensuite rooms and access to spacious kitchen facilities, most with access to dishwashers.
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.
Accommodation is spread across the college site, though most is arranged in blocks that are close in proximity to the college gym and on-site playing fields. Having accommodation in groups like this fosters a community atmosphere, and some of the blocks are given over completely to parties at the beginning and end of term. For the most part, year groups are housed within close proximity encouraging students to get to know their peers during the first few weeks of Michaelmas term in first year. By second and third year students are well acquainted and accommodation blocks have the atmosphere of a big family home.
Undergraduate rooms are ranked depending upon their quality, those housed in cheaper / lower grade accommodation will have priority when it comes to balloting for rooms during the next academic year. Students also have the opportunity to ballot as friendship groups (an average score is given to the group depending on the quality of the constituent members' rooms). It's a system that works well and ensures that everyone gets the type of room they're looking for.
The college's oldest rooms are located within the main quad and pump quad (which is located adjacent to the main quad and home to the college's award winning bar). These rooms have been recently refurbished and offer high quality accommodation for around £900 per term (including amenities and utilities). These rooms typically consist of 4 undergraduate rooms to one set of toilets, a shower, and a bath. Cleaning of shared toilet facilities is undertaken daily. Some of these 'rooms' are more like apartments consisting of three connecting rooms; a bedroom, ensuite bathroom, and dressing room / study. The price reflects the extra space and ensuite bathroom access, lthough they are still priced competitively at around £1100 a term. Around 20% of first years live within these older rooms, and they're usually those who have requested cheaper accommodation (which can be done by contacting the accommodation office).
All of these rooms have mini fridges, desks, wardrobes, noticeboards, and shelves.
The newer ensuite rooms are very spacious and have built in wardrobes, desks, shelves, a shower suite, fridges, and notice boards. The vast majority of rooms are in this style and they all look very similar, usually furnished with a single bed and a couple of chairs. There's usually plenty of space for hosting parties and we never really have trouble all piling into a single room in preparation for a night out. The bathrooms themselves are wet-room style, but this will depend on the exact location of your room as some have separate shower cubicles. The desks are of good quality and they're very well sized, leaving plenty of space for note pads, laptops, files, stationery, snack food etc. These newer rooms are roughly £1300 per term.
Students may request cheaper rooms or rooms with specific facilities, such as rooms with access to allergy friendly kitchens that are regularly cleaned by staff. Students with disabilities are well catered for with ground level rooms with huge, wheel-chair friendly bathrooms and kitchens.
Washing machines and tumble dryers are also located on-site and cost approximately £1.40 for a wash cycle and £1.40 for a dry cycle. They're fairly easy to use and have plenty of settings which great for cleaning delicates, including students' gowns. Laundry rooms are also equipped with irons and ironing boards which can be used for pressing gowns and suits. Access to laundry rooms is fairly good and there are three main rooms on-site, each with around 5 or 6 machines. The down side is that they can get fairly busy during the weekend so it's best to do laundry during the week.
Worcester's Common Rooms
Worcester has three common rooms including the Junior Common Room (JCR), Middle Common Room (MCR), and Senior Common Room. The Junior Common Room, or JCR, contains chairs and sofas, a ping pong table and a shiny new television! The JCR is the venue for regular meetings of undergraduate students, either for social purposes or to discuss college policy, issues concerning mental health, and other philanthropic / activist issues that the JCR aims to promote. It's a great place to relax with friends, or catch up with the welfare team every Wednesday for Tea at Three (which offers free food to students).
Many people like to congregate in the college cellar bar and in the quad adjacent to it. The bar contains a quiz machine, juke box, small television, darts board and access to board games. Drinks are very cheap with the college drink (the Sting) coming in at £4 (for which you get 4 shots!). The bar also has a happy hour every day between 9pm and 10pm during which times drinks are discounted (and the Sting costs only £3). Bops, college wide parties, take place in the college bar three times a term; once at the beginning of 1st week, the next during 5th week, and the last in 8th week. Bops are very well attended and usually begin in the college bar before the student body descends upon one of Oxford's many clubs.
During the summer most students like to congregate on the Nuffield Lawn for picnics or revision.
Library Access and Computing
Worcester has a total of three libraries; the Law Library, the historic Lower Library, and the more modern Upper Library.
The Lower library consists of old wooden desks and chairs, old (and locked-in) books, and a view of the main quad! This library is not open 24 hours a day, unlike the Upper Library and Law Library. It is, however, open from the early morning until midnight (by which time you've probably given up on your work!).
The Upper library is a standard library with modern desks and chairs, a librarian's desk, rolling bookcases (Franks room) and powerpoints to plug in laptops. There's plenty of study space and the library is very well stocked, particularly for those studying History, Theology, and English. Any books that students do not have access to can be requested for purchase. A number of large shelves are available for students to leave their books etc. so that they don't have to haul them back and forth from their rooms (particularly handy during revision periods).
The Law Library is open 24/7 and mostly occupied by law students, although students from all disciplines are encouraged to study here. This library is particularly good for those who wish to work in groups as it consists of three small rooms, in each of which students can talk.
Students also have access to the college computer room. Here we are free to print and scan documents in addition to accessing a suite of PCs, all of which have access to Word, Powerpoint, and Excel (as well as the internet etc.). Any issues with the computers are quickly addressed by the Computer Rep meaning that the printer is always made available (helpful when printing off an essay minutes before the deadline!).
Welfare responsibilities are shared amongst tutors and trained students. Academic tutors can be approached for advice on welfare matters in addition to concerns about work. All students are assigned a Moral Tutor (usually a tutor in the student's subject, but not necessarily someone teaching them at the time of appointment). More serious problems can be brought to the Senior Tutor or to the panel of Moral Tutors. Female students can also approach the Tutor for Women. The college also has the benefit of the Dean Team, a number of postgraduates who are trained in matters of welfare. The junior deans live on site and are available 24/7 should any emergencies arise.
The college porters are also in office 24/7 and usually the first port of call for students. The porters are all very friendly and amazing at looking after students, particularly at night when someone has had a bit too much to drink and can't get back to their room! If there is a medical emergency then students can either approach the porters (who can call an ambulance) or the dean team (who are all trained in first aid).
In addition to this, Worcester has a number of Peer Support mentors who have received training and are available for advice or help. There is a Junior Common Room Women's Welfare Rep. as well as a Junior Common Room Men's Welfare Rep. Their titles are descriptive rather than prescriptive and students are encouraged to approach either, depending to whom they feel most comfortable talking. The welfare reps are in charge of organising Tea at Three every Wednesday, it's a great opportunity to get some free food and chat to the welfare team if you're having any issues (or just want to procrastinate from work. It's very popular and a great place to catch up with friends).For LGBTQIA+ students there is also a Trans Rep, as well as LGTQIA+ rep. Likewise, there is also a disabilities rep and international rep, both of whom are trained to help students whose needs are more specialised.
A nurse from the college's GP practice is present in her college room every weekday for approximately 2 hours. She is also in a position to arrange for emergency appointments at the local GP, and otherwise act as a go-between for students. In winter she puts together a 'flu pack' containing paracetamol, water, tissues, and so forth (particularly useful when one is bed ridden!).
The chaplain also has a room in college and is available to talk to anyone of any or no faith.
As with other colleges, Worcester offers students access to a hardship fund, bursaries, a book allowance, and scholarships. Details can be found on the college website.
Worcester is a middle sized college consisting of approximately 400 undergraduate students studying a variety of subjects. The benefit here is that students can move between close knit friendships groups and the wider college community, creating the feeling of a large college family. Interaction between years is particularly good because of the college 'family' system. New students receive two college parents who have the responsibility of guiding freshers through their first year of university, but more often then not you'll also end up as good friends. At least one of your college parents will be studying the same subject as you, hence they'll be able to provide you with advice and notes should you need them. First year students are encouraged to pair up as 'married couples' so that they may be assigned college children on their transition into second year. Things can sometimes get complicated with students entering into polygamous 'marriages' and children being adopted by other couples. The family system is designed to bring students together and as such it's meant to be fun.
Worcester has a reputation for being super friendly and supportive, but also hard working. As of 2015, Worcester is third on the Norrington Table (an academic ranking of Oxford's colleges). The result is that we work hard and play hard (as corny as that may sound). We're a college in which students can thrive both academically and socially, which is after all great preparation for the real world!
As previously mentioned, college bops are very well attended and the atmosphere is particularly festive during the Christmas period, end of term time, and freshers week.
In terms of extra-curricular societies, Worcester has plenty to offer. For drama lovers there's the Buskins society which is the college's own theatre and drama group that every year stages a production in the grounds of the college. Students also have access to a costume department on Beaumont Street (approx. 1 minute walk from the college gates). The JCR also organises, amongst other things, 'Worc in the Park', a festival set in the grounds of the college offering music, food, and drama performances. The entz team work hard to ensure that there's something for everyone with events ranging from charity cocktails to fancy dress parties and games nights.
Every three years Worcester hosts a Commemoration Ball. The Ball is a white tie event and just one of a few colleges within the university to host such a lavish event. The entertainment is always amazing and special guest acts are always arranged for. The event is extremely popular and students of the college are able to book tickets before general release.
Sports is a big deal at Worcester. Known as a sporting college, it has its hand (or feet!) in most sports, including success in rowing, football, rugby, squash, hockey, basketball, netball, as well as other sports such as badminton, darts, pool, tennis, ultimate frisbee, lacrosse, netball, croquet, volleyball etc.
Worcester has had by far the most successful college football team over the past few years, complemented by quality second and third teams. The rugby team is also of a good standard, and currently sits in the middle of the 2nd division. The hockey and netball teams are also very good, and the college has recently had success in rowing (a boat house is maintained on the Isis River). If Worcester doesn't offer the sport you're interested in, it's easy enough to set up a team and attain funding from the bursary office for equipment.
Worcester is the only college with access to on-site sports grounds. During the first two terms the fields are used for rugby, football, and hockey and cricket and rounders during Trinity. There are also 3 brand new tennis courts available for use all year round and grass pitch tennis is played in summer. The sheer size of Worcester's grounds means that students can also jog / run within the bounds of the college (handy if you want to squeeze in some exercise between lectures or revision sessions).
There is also a small, but modern gym equipped with a treadmill, yoga ball and mats, three tier free weight rack, resistance bands, pull down bar / frame, abdominal frame, leg extension frame, and bench press. Students also have access to rowing machines (located next door to the gym).
The college also has membership to Iffley swimming pool meaning that there is not cost to students for its use.
Worcester's Food Hall is open three times a day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Payment for breakfast, lunch, and first hall is made via a prepaid card that can be topped up with cash in the porters' lodge (24 hours a day). Formal Hall is booked online at the beginning of each week and the cost of Formal is automatically added to your termly Battels bill, which is paid at the beginning of each term. (Formal hall meals taken in first term are paid for at the beginning of second term, and so forth).
Breakfast is continental style with pastries, cold meats, fruit, and cereal, but hot options are also usually available. On Sunday breakfast is served slightly later and is in the form of a full English breakfast (great for when you're nursing a hangover from a Saturday night out, or recovering from a late night revision session).
The lunch menu has recently been revamped and represents amazing value for money. Each day there are a selection of freshly prepared baguettes, paninis, and sandwiches. The hot food menu always features baked potatoes, a soup of the day, a vegetarian option, and a choice of two or three main courses. A self service salad bar is also available, to eat in or take out (useful if you're in a rush). As far as drinks go, there's a choice of canned sodas, water, iced tea etc. Lunch is just £3 and is heavily subsidised by the accommodation office.
The dinner menu is more limited, usually consisting of one main and one vegetarian option. Dessert and fruit are also available, although the dessert option is a bit of a hit and miss in terms of quality. Dinner runs at £3.70, or £3.10 for those without access to a kitchen.
Second Hall, also known as Formal Hall, is served 4 times a week and is also a popular method of socialising amongst Worcester students. Formal Hall is a three course meal of excellent quality and priced at just £5 (making it the best value formal in Oxford). The college's kitchen has also been renovated thanks to a generous donation by entrepreneur and alumnus Sir Timothy Sainsbury. The quality of food have definitely risen while prices have remained constant (and even cut!). Food allergies and intolerances are also catered for, so there's definitely something for everyone.