St Benet’s Hall, one of Oxford University’s Catholic permanent halls, is to allow women as undergraduates after 80 years.
The Benedictine Institution, which was founded by monks from Ampleforth Abbey, has acquired a second site, which is currently run by three sisters from the Society of the Sacred Heart.
St Benet’s was the last single-sex undergraduate body in Oxford University; the last full college to go co-ed was St Hilda’s, which voted to admit men in 2006.
Professor Werner G Jeanrond, Master of St Benet’s Hall, said: “St Benet’s Hall has already accepted female graduate students. The acquisition of this building will enable the Hall to admit female undergraduates and go fully co-ed. Equality is written into the University’s strategic plan and we are now committed to raising the funds needed to make the next move happen.”
A spokesman for St Benet’s said the admission of female undergraduates was true to the college’s Benedictine principles.
“St Benet’s Hall continues to aspire to being a global centre of excellence in teaching and learning. The Society of the Sacred Heart has been working to further the education of women in Oxford and beyond. Through working with St Benet’s Hall, the Society of the Sacred Heart is helping to achieve this goal even though the Sisters are about to withdraw from Oxford,” the spokesman said.
Sister Jane Maltby, the Provincial of the England-Wales Province of the Society of the Sacred Heart, added: “Although we are sad to be leaving Oxford after over eighty years of supporting women’s higher education, the Benedictine spirit of community and commitment to education will further the aspirations we have always striven to achieve”.