Ruskin College

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Ruskin College is an independent educational institution in Oxford, England. It is named after the essayist and social critic John Ruskin (1819–1900) and specialises in providing educational opportunities for adults with few or no qualifications. The college is not part of the University of Oxford, but strong relations with the University allow special privileges such as attending lectures and the use of most facilities. Ruskin College is among the eight non-university institutions whose members are eligible for Long-Term Temporary Membership in the Oxford Union.[1]


Mission and purpose

The mission of the College has always been to provide educational opportunities to adults who are excluded and disadvantaged, and to transform the individuals concerned along with the communities, groups and societies from which they come, the only change having been to personalise the language (away from ‘the excluded’, who do not sound like people) in line with growing equalities awareness. The mission statement is twofold:

  • The first aim, that of giving individuals a second chance in education, continues to be achieved by admitting those with few or no formal qualifications to courses of study that can result in, or lead on to, university-level qualifications.
  • The second aim, the transformational element of the mission, is evidenced by the fact that the most frequent thing former students say about Ruskin is that it changed their lives. Students, whether or not they themselves are resident, benefit from studying in a setting with a strong sense of academic community and from the intensive tutorial teaching that Ruskin offers. The College is also transformational because it sees education as a vehicle for progressive social change.

Ruskin tends towards a curriculum that has high social relevance, students who want to make a difference in the world, and forms of academic scholarship and research that are engaged and applied.

Ruskin’s mission is also pursued by means of strong historical links, nationally and internationally, with the labour and trade union movement, other social movements and activism around social issues (e.g., anti-ageism), as well as with local communities, for example through the Social Work and Youth and Community Work programmes.

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