Westminster College, Oxford
Westminster College was a teacher training college and college of higher education in England. The college was founded in London in 1851 as a training institute for teachers for Methodist schools, but moved to Oxford in 1959. Before the move, it was part of the London Institute for Education. From 1959 to 1981, its qualifications were awarded by Oxford University. From 1981 to 1992, its qualifications were awarded by the CNAA. From 1993 to 2000, its courses were validated by the Oxford University again. In 2000, financial pressures caused the college to close. The Methodist Church subsequently leased the college's site at Harcourt Hill to Oxford Brookes University and it became the home of that university's Westminster Institute of Education.
Westminster College was founded at Horseferry Road in Westminster, London, in 1851 and originally specialised in the training of teachers for Methodist schools. Its neo-Gothic buildings were requistioned during the First World War and used as a station for Australian servicemen. The site was severely damaged by an incendiary bomb during the blitz in the Second World War and the buildings were never repaired. They were demolished in the 1960s and the headquarters of the television station Channel 4 now stand on the site.
In 1959, Westminster College moved into a set of purpose-built facilities on Harcourt Hill, Oxford, with buildings noted for their fusion of Oxford quads with a "New England" style of architecture, evident particularly in the large and distinctive chapel.
Following the move, the college's qualifications were validated by the University of Oxford through its Institute of Education and, later, its Department of Education. Oxford University also had a similar arrangement with other local teacher training colleges. The qualifications included a Certificate in Education, the Bachelor of Education degree, a postgraduate certificate in education, and some supplementary certificates. Oxford University ended this arrangement in 1981. The college's qualifications were then validated by the Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA) until 1992, when the CNAA ceased to exist. The college then entered into a new arrangement with Oxford University from 1993. Oxford University validated a number of qualifications at the college from this date, including degrees in Education and Theology.
Westminster College was an "Approved Society" of the University of Oxford. Those who read for its degrees were entitled to become members of Oxford University Student Union and life members of the Oxford Union, and to attend all lectures at the university. Students received notification of their degree results from the university, not the college, and all examination papers and dissertations were marked by the university. Degree certificates were those of the University of Oxford in toto, and included the coats of arms of both Westminster College and the University of Oxford. Graduation ceremonies were presided over by the Vice-Chancellor in the Sheldonian Theatre according to the usual form, with slight modifications to allow for the fact that students had not matriculated.(To matriculate is to go through the matriculation ceremony which makes one a member of the university, so students at Westminster College did not have this status in Oxford). Thus, they are nonetheless Oxford graduates,though not Oxford B.A.'s. (A similar status still devolves onto students reading for University of Oxford degrees at Ripon College Cuddesdon.)
In 2000, financial pressures prompted the Methodist Church to cease operating Westminster College, although its students were permitted to continue studying for their degrees through the University of Oxford. A deal was struck to lease the Harcourt Hill site to Oxford Brookes University and the college buildings became the Westminster Institute of Education, a school of Oxford Brookes University, thus continuing the use of the Westminster name. In addition to housing the Westminster Institute of Education, other subjects such as Theology, Philosophy, and Media and Communication are also taught at what is now Oxford Brookes University's Harcourt Hill campus. Courses begun before 2000 continued to be validated by Oxford University, including classes taken by international students, during the transition period until students who had begun at Westminster College, rather than Brookes, had graduated. Westminster Institute was eventually absorbed into Oxford Brookes University.
- Jennifer Bone, Our Calling to Fulfil: Westminster College and the Changing Face of Teacher Education 1951-2001, Tockington Press, 2003