Westminster College, Oxford
Westminster College was a 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. Following the move, the college also began to offer degree courses in Theology and Education. From 1992 to 2000 the college offered degrees validated by the University of Oxford. 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 began to offer a number of Theology and Education degrees, which were validated by the Council for National Academic Awards (the CNAA). When the CNAA was scrapped following the Education Act 1992, the college entered an academic partnership with the University of Oxford, allowing Westminster students to read for degrees of the university. NOTE: This is not correct. Degrees were those of the University of Oxford until, in what many people felt was a singularly ill-judged action, Westminster parted from the University of Oxford. Further, academic subjects while linked with Oxford University were far wider than simply Theology and Education. In addition to a range of subjects relating specifically to the preparation of primary and secondary school teachers, Westminster's teaching departments included Geography, History, English, Mathematics, Biology, French, Music, Art & Design, and Physical Education.
Westminster College was not a full college of the University of Oxford. However, 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. Thus, they are nonetheless Oxford graduates. (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 during Westminster's time granting degrees from Oxford continued to be honoured as belonging to 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.