What it's like at St Benet's Hall
By Allie Mason
There are few prospective students who apply directly to study at St Benet’s Hall, but those of us who ended up pooled there feel that we have been rather lucky.
Benet’s is a ‘Permanent Private Hall’ governed by the Ampleforth Abbey Trust, rather than the University of Oxford. The abbey itself in North Yorkshire is home to a community of Benedictine monks, some of whom come to study with us. Although the Catholic values and practices of Benet’s play an important role in the college, it is a welcoming and diverse community for those of all faiths and none. An example of one of our traditions is that grace is said in the form of a Latin prayer before and after all served meals.
It is important to know that if you are coming to Benet’s in Michaelmas Term 2020 (or beyond!), you will be joining a college that takes pride in its pastoral care. Being so small in number means that the staff get to know the student body well and always check in with us at mealtimes to hear about what’s going on in our lives. As we have no high table, you could even find yourself sitting next to the master and his wife! The staff at Benet’s are very friendly and willing to offer whatever support that they can.
From a postgraduate perspective, the facilities and opportunities available are a bit different to what you would expect to find in a larger college. We have no MCR, but as postgrads we are instead encouraged to use the JCR or the Calefactory. The latter is a fairly unique space for the University of Oxford, where staff, students and visitors alike can mingle together. Ultimately, the key to feeling included is to get involved. Last term I volunteered to help with interviews and was able to chat with a number of Benetian undergraduates who I hadn’t had the chance to speak to before then.