Founded in 1786 as Manchester Academy. Named after City of Manchester and Lord Harris of Peckham. Men and Women over 21 – Undergraduates 98 Postgraduates116.
Harris Manchester was formally known as Manchester Academy and has found a niche as the Oxford college for mature students. But don’t imagine for one second that its halls are full of retired intellectuals gently coasting through their final years trying to come to terms with the internet. ‘Mature student’ is Oxford speak for anyone over the age of 21. Most students are twenty something with a sprinkling of other ages up to and beyond seventy. Throw into this mix an international element and the result is a very diverse community with liberal attitudes where all sorts of eccentricities are effortlessly tolerated.
The college has a history of putting its head above the parapet and supporting reforming causes, most notably the abolition of slavery. It has always campaigned to provide higher education to those normally excluded and provided courses for the Workers’ Educational Association in the 1920’s and 30’s.
Roots in Manchester
At a time when nonconformists were prevented from applying to Oxford and Cambridge (they had to sit a religious test), a group of English Presbyterians (Protestant flavour of Christianity that evolved primarily in Scotland) made provision elsewhere to correct this lack of opportunity, resulting in the Manchester Academy, founded at Manchester in 1786. It was one of many dissenting academies established after the Restoration, where principles of religious liberty were the moral corner stone. The new academy had its roots in the influential Warrington Academy and a stained glass window in the library acknowledges this connection today. As well as teach...
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...hers protest, saying it is too much like a hotel, and value the eccentricities of the Victorian. Rooms are provided for all first and final year students, leaving most second years to fend for themselves.
Mission to educate mature students
Harris Manchester was never considered a proper Oxford college until 1990 when it was granted permanent private hall status. It was, however, well regarded and has had a close association with the University of London since 1840 when it was granted a Royal Warrant, allowing it to present degrees from London. Despite many doubts about resources, full college status was achieved in 1996, following a new Royal Charter granted by Queen Elizabeth II. Harris Manchester has since flourished and is fiercely proud of its progressive liberalism and distinct mission to educate mature motivated students, regardless of background and religion.