Harris Manchester is one of Oxford’s smallest and reputedly friendliest colleges. As the University’s only mature students college, it is the hub for all students aged 21 or over. And trust us, once you’re a Harris Mancunian, you wouldn’t have it any other way. The college is located in impressive historic buildings in the centre of Oxford and boasts the gorgeous Tate Library, the sixth-largest college library, beloved by students for its dedicated staff and exhaustive selection of course readings well beyond the syllabus. With the average undergraduate in their early- to mid-twenties, HMC is a vibrant community with a tapestry of life experiences that includes military service, social and political activism, published authors, professional sports, artists, high corporate ranks, and general life vagabonds. If you’re not the typical Oxford undergrad, yet looking for an Oxford experience out of the ordinary, this might just be the place for you.
All meals are served in the college’s stunning Arlosh dining hall - on weekdays this includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Mondays and Wednesdays are Formal Halls when food is especially nice, wine is free, and gowns are worn! Sunday brunch is a student favourite, with living-in students chatting and feasting on a full English breakfast, many in pre-library pyjamas. The college’s small size proves benefits here too: Oxford’s loveliest kitchen staff knows not only your name but of course also your dietary requirements... from halal to vegan to gluten intolerant, you can be sure to be served your personal version of the meal’s dish. Breakfast is £1.80, lunch is £3.75, and dinner is £5, but if you live-in, college meals (including Formal Hall!) are already included in your rent. For library snack cravings, you could always just head into the city centre, which is just a 5-minute walk away, and there is also the popular Alternative Tuck Shop which is just adjacent to the college.
Accommodation in college is guaranteed for the first and final year of studies. All accommodation is in the college’s beautiful historic buildings, and most rooms have en-suite bathrooms (otherwise bathrooms are shared between two). All students have access to communal kitchens within their house (some kitchens are shared between students in two houses). One of the houses is set aside for graduates only. Rooms are randomly allocated, except in your final year in which you will usually be allocated one of your top two preferences. Priority is always given to students who have accommodation related requirements owing to disabilities.
The JCR is the heart of college life. It's a place to relax with fellow students on comfy sofas, enjoy free tea and coffee, improvise on the JCR piano, or participate in a heated JCR meeting debate. Harris Manchester has a small but lively selection of societies, including an immensely popular Wine Society, a Leftist society, an LGBTQ society, and an Afro-Caribbean society, as well as an enthusiastic football club. Grants for societies are available and whatever your interests, you'll be sure to find some fellow aficionados to join in. Many students participate in the arts or play sports at University level, and aspiring rowers are with the best as HMC Boat Club is affiliated with Wadham, for whom Harris Mancunians have helped achieve many victories over the years. We do not have any dedicated music rooms but students are more than welcome to use the Chapel (and its piano) for music practice.
The variety of life experiences at Harris Manchester contribute to an open and supportive atmosphere among students. JCR and MCR welfare officers hold stress management sessions, regular welfare teas, picnics, and yoga classes. Academic officers organise subject-specific study skills sessions and general academic support so as to ease the way (back) into academic life.
Do not let the mature students status (or the website) fool you - Harris Mancunians throw some of the best bops at Oxford. From legendary pub quizzes, real ale festivals, and open mic nights, Guest Nights, the JCR it is a place to both hang out with friends and get the night started.
Harris Manchester College is honestly a wonderful place to study and live. Because it is one of Oxford’s smaller colleges, every student quickly finds themselves on first-name-terms with everybody else, which cultivates a real sense of community. This feeling of kinship is strengthened by the fact that all students share the experience of being that little bit older than those at other colleges, which really seems to bring us together that much more! Academically speaking, rather than being stiflingly competitive, HMC feels very, very supportive. Furthermore, owing to the college’s size, each student benefits from close interaction with tutors, which is a serious benefit to learning. The Tate library is also fantastic, although the college is close enough to most other libraries (i.e. the Law Library and the Old Bodelian) to give students a choice as to where they want to read on a given day. Before studying at Harris Manchester, I was worried that a ‘mature’ college may feel a little bit dry and boring. But after my first year, I really feel like I’ve found a second home, and wouldn’t change my college for anything.
You might also want to take a look at the official college website.