Corpus Christi college in Cambridge has sparked controversy this week by opening its Formal Hall to members of the general public.

Organised by ‘The Cambridge College Supper Club’, the service advertises a ‘Harry Potter-style’ dining experience. This will be the first time that any college in Oxford or Cambridge has set aside space in hall during term time specifically for paying guests.

By cashing in on Oxbridge’s associations with the wizarding world, Corpus Christi hopes to boost college funds without adversely affecting its students’ education.

For £57.75 per person, guests will be given a tour of the college courtyards and treated to a “delicious supper” and “college wine direct from the college cellars” normally reserved only for Corpus Christi students. The club promises guests a “delightful evening” where “couples, friends, family and the lone diner can all enjoy a sociable supper in stunning surroundings”.

However, the decision to open Corpus Christi hall to paying visitors has been met with conflicting responses. One Cambridge student, Sam Gilbert, said, “This is yet another example of the Colleges’ mercenary attitude towards their reputations.”

Yet the idea has been successful with the paying public and the service is now taking books as far ahead as April 2011. Described by tourists as a “fantastic idea”, visitors are already inquiring if it is possible to book Formal Hall in Oxford colleges.

Christ Church College, Oxford, which houses the famous hall used in the Harry Potter films, says it has no plans to set aside space for paying tourists at its Formal Hall.

Commenting on Corpus Christi’s new scheme, John Harris, the steward of Christ Church, said, “Christ Church will continue to give priority to its junior members during term time.”