Ruskin College is an independent college based in Oxford that specializes in providing educational opportunities for adults with few or no qualifications. Ruskin allows people who for financial, personal or social reasons have been unable to seize educational chances earlier in their lives.
Founded in 1899 at a time of ferment in political and educational ideas, Ruskin College aimed to provide university-standard education for working class people so that they could act more effectively on behalf of working class communities and organisations - trade unions, political parties, co-operative societies, working men's institutes and so on.
Over 75% of Ruskin students on one-year CertHE programmes in 2003-2004 stayed the course, passed, and a large number progressed to higher education institutions, including many of the most famous universities. Ruskin students have frequently gone on to work in education, in social work and social care, in the media, in trade unions, in management and in politics.
Oxford, SE England, UK
Ruskin Hall, Dunstan Rd, Old Headington, Oxford, OX3 9BZ
Ruskin Students Union
Applicants per place:
Admission to Ruskin is very different to other Universities. You do not need apply for Ruskin via UCAS (though this can be done), but you can apply online from their website or by collecting an application from the college. You do not need any qualifications to enter Ruskin College, but you do need to show that you are suitable for the college. You may be asked to do a literacy test and attend a Ruskin College short course before enrolment on a long course.
Ruskin offers student halls.
Ruskin students can use many of the facilities at Oxford University. The massive Bodleian and Radcliffe libraries offer almost any book a student could need, and with the large number of local libraries students will never go wanting for reading material. Ruskin students are also able to attend any Oxford University lecture.
While Oxford is sadly lacking much in the way of cheap and cheerful places to shop (although Primark opened February 2006 and solved part of this problem) it certainly has a wide range of choice.
Large clothing stores
- Marks and Spencer
- Miss Selfridge
- NEXT and NEXT warehouse
- New look
- Dorothy Perkins
- Moss Bros
- Oxfam Second Hand Bookshops (there's one on Turl Street and another up St Giles)
Most of the major banks are represented in Oxford with HSBC, Barclays, Natwest and Lloyds on Cornmarket, Abbey on St. Aldates and various others in the near proximity. Both CO-OP and Halifax are near Westgate shopping centre.
In Headington near the new Ruskin Hall there is a Barclays, but for other banks you have to travel into Oxford town.
G&Ds - an Oxford grown ice cream and bagel cafe, which now has 3 shops: the original and best shop (George & Davis) on Little Clarendon Street (aka little trendy street), the second shop (George & Danver) on St Aldates/Pembroke Street, and the newest shop (George & Delilah) on the Cowley Road. Bagels made to order with a choice of plain, sesame, or special bagel and a range of fillings. Popular choices include the Mediterranean Bagel (pesto, mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes & lettuce), Pizza bagels and Breakfast bagels (scrambled or poached egg with optional bacon and cheese). A range of salads are also available. All of the ice creams and sorbets are made by G&Ds with high quality natural ingredients, and range from the classics Dime Bar Crunch, Baileys and After Eight to weird and wonderful special flavours such as Lavender and Honey. The Petition book allows customers to invent new flavours so your suggestion could end up behind the counter! Of course, coffees, teas, hot chocolate, milkshakes and baked goods are also available at reasonable prices.
Ricardo's - inside the covered market. Very reasonable priced sandwiches/baguettes/paninis all freshly made up to order. Also selection of hot food - chicken nuggets/burgers/chips/jacket potatoes/soups. Very friendly staff who get to know you and will give you free titbits occasionally. Much cheaper than Heroes on Ship St which is over-priced.
Heroes situated on Ship Street (running off Turl Street and Cornmarket) is largely held up as one of the best sandwich shops in the whole of Oxford. While possibly a little on the pricey side for the every day student budget, their array of baguettes, ciabatta, bagels or even just plain square cut sandwiches are freshly made while you wait and are definitely worth the price tag. They also do a range of soups and other eat-in foods.
For those yet to discover Heroes The Alternative Tuckshop on Holywell Street may play a similar role with a wide array of sandwiches and cold sweets
Bonjour - on the High St. Good baguettes and paninis. Generally less queues than some of the other bigger sandwich shops and not too expensive.
The Tick Tock Café offers a competitively-priced variety of hot and cold sandwiches, although the quality is not superlative. For an extra 30p you can eat in - and the burgers and breakfasts are a hangover solution!
Mortons is a sandwich shop that (so far) has four branches in Oxford: one on Broad Street, one on Little Clarendon Street, one in the Covered Market and one on New Inn Hall Street. While it is a chain and so not especially individual or personal, it is popular with students due to their Meal Deal. For £3.33 you can get a baguette (which cost £3 when bought on their own, almost), a soft drink (e.g. Diet Coke, Fanta, water...) and either a bag of Walker's crisps or a piece of fruit. Utterly bargainous and the baguettes are excellent. The Broad Street branch also has a small outdoor area behind it where you can eat your food, but the other two branches have no outside space of their own (although the Little Clarendon Branch is conveniently situated as it backs onto Wellington Square, which has a very attractive small green space in the square).
Olive's - a delicatessen on the High St. - Makes fantastic baguettes and paninis (and virtually anything else you can think of) most of which are made to order (specials are made in advance every morning, but are a nice way of trying new things). Friendly service, particularly from Christophe who owns the deli, although it can get busy at lunch, particularly on the hour from about 12-2, since it's situated conveniently across from Exam Schools. Olive's is so good their loyal clientele has even made a Facebook group.
Italian & Pizza Places
Ask and Zizzis seems to be the standard student hangout for a pizza, not least because of their deal on takeaway pizzas for around £5.30 - not bad for a very nice pizza!
Alternatively for those who like a bit more grease in their diet there is also a Pizza Hut on the High Street, and another on George Street.
Bella Italia - national chain, one course pasta meals between £5 and £10, also does pizza.
Opium Den is known as one of the best Chinese restaurants in Oxford. It serves some of the most savoury southern Chinese dishes you will probably ever taste, which makes up for the rather less-than-satisfactory and slow service. Many dishes on the menu are as low as £5.00, and the Duck with Pineapple, which is highly recommended, is only a little less than £6.00. For dessert, the artistically presented Toffee-coated Bananas are a solid choice. Don't let the name deter you.
Peninsula is perhaps a slightly classier choice, with an air of luxury about it. It is located in a basement on George street, and as a result is easy to miss. Many dishes are priced in the range of £7.00-£8.50. It is not very well known, probably because of its location, so it is a good place to go for a quiet meal. The interior is very clean and simple, and the service is excellent.
EAMAYL (Eat as much as you like) on Park End serves pretty basic Chinese - but as the name says, as much as you want of it. £5.75 (Mon - Sat lunch) / £7.50 (Sun lunch) / £10.50 (dinner).
Noodle Nation is another common student food-plan, although the restaurant itself is quite small and can be claustrophobic - much better as a take away. The food is pretty cheap, and the portions quite generous.
"Cafe Soho" (formerly cafe orient on George Street) is a real treat - good value, delicious and with relatively large portions it is well worth the 10-15 minute walk from town as it is located opposite Jeune street on Cowley Road.
Jamal's on Walton Street in Jericho has a justified reputation as the destination of choice for drunken sports teams on crew dates and other socials. This is largely due to its "Bring your own" policy for alcohol, subject to a £1.50 charge per person. The policy on singing, climbing on tables, and throwing up in the toilets is decidedly liberal: regular visitors are likely to summon Mr Jamal himself if their activities are questioned by ordinary staff. The food is in fact very good, and a limited all-you-can eat menu is available on Sundays at lunchtime.
Nearby on Walton Street is the Standard Tandoori, a venerable institution with excellent food and a much quieter atmosphere.
The Moonlight Tandoori on Cowley Road specialises in vegetarian Indian food and the food is very good.
Mirch Masala, found down the Cowley Rd (before Tesco's) is a little-known gem, with starters to die for. They do sell alcohol, but you can bring your own for a very reasonable corkage charge.
Chutney's, near the Oxford Union, is a real treat - friendly staff, efficient service, and a great range of dishes, including a good selection of fish curries.
The Bombay is another popular student haunt owing to its reasonable prices and BYO bottle policy. Located on Walton Street, its Indian food is of high quality and the service is excellent.
A more hidden gem exists in Saffron, an excellent Indian restaurant located in Summertown on the Banbury Road. Tranquil and modern, it also serves high quality food at an affordable price (£20-£30 a head) which is fabulous for a classier night out.
Good old English
The Big Bang on Walton Street is a great place for when you just want good old English food. With eight different types of sausage (two of which are vegetarian) and all served with peas, red cabbage and fried onion there is something for everyone who likes sausage. Portions are generous, although perhaps reflected by prices. If you go on a Tuesday then there is a Jazz evening - £15 for your meal and entertainment. Worth visiting on a special occasion purely for the activities of the wonderfully eccentric maitre d'hotel - opening a champagne bottle with a sword in the naval style is a favourite.
66a, the in-house restaurant at the Cotswold Lodge Hotel (on the corner of Norham Road and Banbury Road), also serves excellent Sunday lunches at the highly reasonable rate of £10 for 2 courses or £15 for 3 courses. The portions are huge and the place is rarely busy despite the delicious cuisine. Their food is also laudable for the rest of the week, although it's not quite as cheap as at Sunday lunchtime.
Oxford has many Kebab vans, including one in Headington. It offers your usual selection of hot food at reasonable prices, though the service is often worse than kebab vans in town.
Ahmed's Is the High Street. Ahmed has become somewhat of a celebrity, and his cheesy chips are staple post-alcohol fare. He will also generously create any combination of food you ask at a reasonable price. And if you're feeling particularily peckish, ask for a "Teddy Hall Special."
Hassan's on Broad Street serves low price, high quality food from before 7pm until 3am. The chips are especially good - proper big fat ones, not McDonalds style french fries that are more fat than potato. Being there at half 2 most evenings makes for singing, dancing, falling over and all other sorts of debauchery. The falafel, humus, and salad nan is considered to be one of the best veggie dishes that one can get from a kebeb van in Oxford!
Hussein's is on St. Giles, opposite St. John's and just on the corner of the Ashmolean. The proprieters are notoriously friendly, offering discounts to students who spent too much in Park End, and have even volunteered to sponsor the Keble College JCR. The cheesy chips are particularly good.
Ali's is located on Woodstock Road, outside Green College. The cheesy chips are noted as a specialty, and regulars can expect extra chips sprinkled in any food they order.
Medhi's - recently updated van on the High St where it joins Turl St. Medhi serves good quality burgers and chips (not too salty or greasy - but just right) and will also give you free chips inside your burgers if you ask. Also wide selection of kebabs, vegetarian food, onion rings, jacket potatoes and baguettes. Has also started doing takeaway pizzas which are by far cheaper than nearby Pizza Hut and rumoured to be bigger and tastier.
Branos can be found on Gloucester Green. Opens around lunchtime and closes at 3am! Ask for a Worcester special: fried chicken, chips and cheese for just £3! Very friendly service!
Japanese - Wagamamas, Market Street, chain restaurant serving quite reasonably priced meals, but only go for a treat, like if your parents are up, or for a date. I recommend the massive bowls of soup, they are truly delicious and around £8.
Edamame is an awesome little restaurant on Hollywell street, near New College. It serves home style Japanese cooking, so don't go there looking for much in the way of noodles/sushi (although they do have sushi some nights). It's fairly small inside, but nice nonetheless.
French - Cafe Rouge, Pret a Manger - both chain restaurants
McDonalds Eat Starbucks Costa
Transport is rarely a worry for Ruskin students, since Oxford as a city is virtually completely flat and so most people walk or cycle everywhere. Transport information can be found in the Transport in Oxford guide.
Ruskin College is currently moving from its location in Oxford town centre to Ruskin Hall in Headington. Headington is about 3 miles from Oxford town centre and has regular bus travel to Oxford town centre. Many people also ride a bike to get to town, though the journey back to headington does involve riding up a steep hill. Shops like Iceland, Co-Op and Waitrose can be found in Headington without the need of going to town.