The College


Harris Manchester College (HMC) is the only college in the University of Oxford dedicated to taking students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, aged 21 or over. This means we are a vibrant and diverse community, with students of different ages from a wide range of backgrounds and countries. For some this is a second or third chance at higher education; for others it is a second or third degree; and for some it is a rethinking of their life path and a much-valued opportunity to think about what they want to do next.  

We believe that the future of education is life-long learning. As people live longer and technology changes the workplace, we recognise that more people will come to higher education at different times in their lives. We aim to ensure that age is not a barrier to an Oxford education. 

HMC is known as a very friendly college, with a genuine spirit of cooperation between the fellows, staff and students. This creates a mutually respectful and supportive atmosphere, in which everyone strives to do their best, and where community life is highly valued. The wellbeing of all our community members is important to us, and we seek to create a college that is sustainable in every way.  

Our values have remained rooted in the origins of the college and the radical perspective of our founders, epitomized in the college’s motto: truth, liberty, and religion.   

Truth – knowledge - is important because teaching and research are at the heart of all that we do; we foster excellence, understand the importance of expertise, and educate and equip our students to make a positive impact. 

Liberty means that we can stand outside establishment prejudices, champion for all to be free from irrational and unjust constraints, and encourage each other in being free to work together for the common good.  

The college was founded for those who could not accept the beliefs of any particular denomination, and this open spirit continues today. There are no religious tests and never have been – that has given the college a radical dissenting edge, putting inclusivity and diversity at the heart of our values, and enabling us to be bold in our decisions.  

Although we were founded in the eighteenth century, we arrived in Oxford at the end of the nineteenth century and occupy an enviable central position, with fine buildings and accommodation.

Our History


1757 - Warrington

The Warrington Academy, a dissenting academy, is founded in Warrington, Cheshire. Tutors include Joseph Priestley, discoverer of oxygen.




joseph priestley arlosh hall portrait

1786 - Manchester

The Warrington Academy closes and a new dissenting academy is founded, the Manchester Academy. It provides higher education to religious non-conformists, training people for the learned professions and civil and commercial life.













1793 - John Dalton Appointed Professor

John Dalton, famous for his atomic theory, is appointed a Professor.












charles wellbeloved scr portrait

1803 - York

The Manchester Academy is keen to recruit the Unitarian minister Charles Wellbeloved as its Principal. York-based Wellbeloved refuses to move to Manchester so the college moves to York.

james martineau scr portrait

1840 - London

The Manchester Academy receives a Royal Letter in Council signed by Queen Victoria, making it a Collegiate Society of the University of London, with the same status as University College and King's College. Thirteen years later, Manchester College moves to London.














hmc old

1893 - Oxford

Following the abolition of the religious tests at Oxford, Cambridge, and Durham Universities, Manchester College moves to Oxford. The college is initially housed on the High Street but moves to its current Mansfield Road site in 1893 when construction of the new college buildings is completed.






1901 - First Woman To Graduate

Gertrude von Petzold becomes the first woman to graduate after a 3 year course in training in the Ministry.

1990 - Permanent Private Hall

Manchester College becomes a permanent private hall of the University of Oxford.






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1996 - Oxford University College

Manchester College is granted a Royal Charter, making it the 39th College of the University of Oxford. Following a generous benefaction from Lord Harris of Peckham and his family, it is re-named Harris Manchester College. Harris Manchester College is now the 37th College of the University following the merger of Templeton College and Green College.














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2014 - Siew-Sngiem Clock Tower and Sukum Navapan Gate

Following further generous benefactions, the Princess Royal opens the Siew-Sngiem Clock Tower and Sukum Navapan Gate.