A group of colleges are passing a motion to mandate JCR presidents to lobby their governing bodies to include PPHs in the College Contribution Scheme.
The College Contribution Scheme (CCS) is a mechanism designed for richer Oxford colleges to contribute to poorer colleges’ maintenance and costs. Currently, PPHs are not included in the scheme, despite being typically poorer than other colleges.
St Catz, New, Somerville, and Merton have all passed the proposal, while Corpus, Anne’s, Brasenose, Exeter, Magdalen, Keble, Harris Manchester, Trinity, and Pembroke have the motion tabled for their 8th week JCR meetings.
Mansfield have also supported PPHs being able to access the fund but haven’t passed the specific motion.
The motion calls attention to how their exclusion from the CCS “prevents PPHs from expanding independent access efforts, expanding and refurbishing student accommodation, and ensuring a basic level of student experience in line with the rest of the University. The CCS seeks to help poorer colleges, but ignores the poorest of all.”
This follows the SU passing a motion earlier this month which mandated the SU President to lobby for the scheme to be expanded. The motion was proposed by President of Regent’s Park College (a PPH), William Robinson.
Speaking to Cherwell, Robinson said: “It is incredibly heartening to see the sheer number of students across Oxford who, despite having no vested interest in including PPHs in the CCS, recognise the injustice and irrationality of our current exclusion.
“The message to the University from the undergraduate body is clear: maintaining PPH exclusion from access to desperately-needed financial assistance that is available to institutions many times richer than our own is not only unjust, contrary to the rationale and the sentiment behind the establishment of the CCS as a means to redress vast inter-college financial discrepancies that have genuinely detrimental consequences for students at poorer institutions, but it is also fundamentally unpopular throughout Oxford, even to those completely unaffected by this current state of affairs.
“During the admissions process there is no way of expressing a negative preference for a college or PPH, and so the University assures applicants that their experience will be comparable at whatever college they end up at.
“This commitment is not being adhered to if the very poorest institutions are being excluded from a scheme to give poorer colleges access to funds to improve the student experience.”
The motion notes differences in the student experience which could be due to discrepancies in endowment between colleges, including: “sports facilities, travel grants, hardship funds, libraries, student mental health support, music and drama facilities, accommodation costs and vacation residence, and food prices.”
Merton President, Emily Clark, told Cherwell: “I am proud to say that Merton JCR voted unanimously to support the reduction of inequalities across student experiences at PPHs and at established colleges. We wish this campaign the best of luck going forward.”
PPHs have a limited ability to change the situation for themselves; in order to change the scheme one requires a seat at the Conference of Colleges, which PPHs do not have.
Rick Trainor, the Chair of the Conference of Colleges, has previously declined to comment on the issue as negotiations are still ongoing. The structure of the new Scheme is set to be announced next term.
Robinson added: “With Oxford’s collected JCRs and the SU officially on side, we are as best placed as we could be to give PPHs much-needed and transformative funding; regardless of the eventual outcome, this discussion simply would not have happened without their willingness to help, and for that I am beyond grateful on behalf of Regent’s and of PPHs generally for the support that we have been given.
“My hope is that this has not all been in vain, and it is now for the University to respond to this turning tide.”