End of an era as Ruskin College moves from its original home

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MORE than a hundred years of education history came to a close as Ruskin College moved out of its Walton Street, Oxford, home.

The last furniture was hauled out yesterday morning as the college transferred to its other site in Dunstan Road, Old Headington.

Named after social critic and essayist John Ruskin, the college has provided educational opportunities for people who were denied access to university since 1899.

Notable alumni include former Labour Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and firebrand Labour MP Dennis Skinner.

College Principal, Prof Audrey Mullender said the move, part of a £17m redevelopment programme, tied in with the progressive ethos of the institution.

The redeveloped Headington site has a new academic building incorporating an expanded library, named the Callaghan Library after former Prime Minister James Callaghan.

There are also new classrooms, seminar rooms, offices and a restaurant.

Prof Mullender said: “We are excited and exhilarated by our move into the beautifully redeveloped premises at our site in Old Headington, which should be fit for the 21st century, and look forward to offering second chance educational opportunities to many more people for at least another century to come.

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“Although we treasure all the memories and the wonderful work that has taken place at our Walton Street site and all the lives that have been changed by the students that have been educated there, we recognise the site in its present state cannot accommodate the needs of our students, particularly disabled people. It needs a great deal of money spend on it.”

Exeter College, which bought the Walton Street site in 2010, plans to refurbish it to provide new accommodation and teaching space.

Prof Mullender added: “We are delighted that Exeter College is going to devote love and attention to the building.”

Ruskin offers people a second chance in education. The institution is not part of Oxford University , but has strong links – allowing students special privileges to attend lectures and use facilities. It is also one of eight non-university institutions whose members are eligible for long-term temporary membership of the Oxford Union.

Ruskin has deep-rooted historical links, nationally and internationally, with the Labour and trade union movement. A missing painting of playwright George Bernard Shaw, found at the Walton Street site in June, now hangs at Labour Party headquarters in Westminster.

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