2013 marked the hundredth anniversary of the construction of Hertford's bridge over New College Lane.
The bridge connects two college buildings and is one of Oxford's most recognisable landmarks, regularly featuring on the big and small screens, including in X Men: First Class and Inspector Morse.
To mark this special anniversary year, Hertford hosted a series of events (the Bridge Centenary Celebrations) on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 September 2013 in college - and a special bike ride from the bridge in Oxford to the Bridge of Sighs, Venice. The MCR also arranged a photo competition to explore how bridges are used to connect things or people.
In July 2014, a team of Hertford cyclists powered their way from Hertford's Bridge of Sighs to its Venetian namesake (although, of course we know they're not that similar).
The cyclists were of all ages and abilities including past and present college members (students, alumni, staff, Fellows and even the Principal), all united by a desire to show just how far Hertford is prepared to go to improve access.
After a wonderful team effort, we raised more than £344,000 to boost student access to Oxford.
All monies raised were channelled into a special fund for student support. Here's what we're doing with it:
- Bursaries - £50,000 has gone into our bursaries fund, which will support 50 students this academic year
- Hardship grants - we've doubled the funds available for hardship grants, to support students who find themselves unexpectedly in financial difficulty for reasons beyond their control
- Scholarships - in conjunction with investment from the college, and taking advantage of matched funding, we're now able to offer 12 extra scholarships over the next two years to support further study
- Outreach - we've doubled the funds available for outreach activities
- we can now reach more students by arranging additional outreach trips to schools, particularly those in our assigned areas of Essex, Kent and the London borough of Camden
- we are able to hold more 'taster days' for gifted pupils to visit Oxford
- STEM day: we'll be holding a special day in June 2015 for female students interested in studying and working in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths
Thank you to everyone who supported us along the way; it was truly a team effort and your encouragement made all the difference.
On Friday 27 September, we welcomed 100 students from 10 state schools across the UK to Hertford. They attended a series of talks by Hertford Tutors – on everything from How Do Coalition Parties Bridge their Differences? (Dr Zubek, Politics) to A history of the Hertford Bridge, starting from the Big Bang (Dr Vallance, Chemistry) and learnt more about the Oxford admissions process and the financial support available to students at Oxford from low income households.
It was also the 100th anniversary of the first car production in Oxford so we teamed up with the MINI Plant Oxford for a photoshoot under the bridge.
On Saturday 28 September a full programme of events had been arranged to welcome alumni and friends back to college:
- Dr William Whyte gave the keynote lecture explaining the history of how Hertford came to build the bridge, and the educational reformist values behind T.G. Jackson's architecture, including how some originally opposed construction of the bridge as an 'aesthetic crime'
- There was a debate on the future of higher education between Mary Curnock Cook OBE (Chief Executive, UCAS) and Sir Peter Lampl (Chairman, the Sutton Trust)
- We premiered a new five minute film about Hertford produced by BAFTA award winning film producer Anthony Geffen
- Hertford academics discussed how their academic research impacts upon policy, and Hertford Tutor Dr Benjamin Skipp produced a sound installation which played under the bridge all day featuring the sighs of college students and tutors
- The evening was rounded off with drinks and a party in OB Quad, including live bands