Teaching & fellowships
The tutorial system is at the centre of the Oxford experience. Through ongoing contact with their tutors, undergraduates develop a more rigorous approach to argument, reasoning and research.
Hertford has launched a new fundraising campaign to encourage alumni to give back to their subjects. This sits alongside Student Support (bursaries, hardship grants, scholarships and outreach) as one of our most pressing priorities for the college.
Our priority subjects for fundraising are currently: Computer Science, English, Geography, Law and Physics.
Thanks to the support of alumni, we now have two endowed funds for tutorial positions: the Ellis Barnard Fellowship in History and the Roger van Noorden in Economics.
What happens to tuition fees?
Tuition fees were introduced to compensate for the government’s cut in university teaching grants. Of the £9,000 paid by Home/EU students to the University, Hertford receives around £4,000 per student for teaching in college. However it costs the college between £7,000 and £8,000 to teach each of those students. That deficit is funded by income from the endowment, summer conferences and donations.
Are Hertford students taught by Hertford Fellows?
There are 45 Fellows at Hertford, which means we cannot cover all aspects of the subjects our students study within the college. In these cases, we employ academics from other colleges to teach our students and extend the range of expertise within our community. These positions can be anything from one hour a week to six hours a week, and cost the college from £3,000 to £18,000 a year.
What is an endowed fellowship?
An endowment for a fellowship means that there will always be a ring-fenced fund to guarantee teaching in that subject – which ensures that the college can provide its unique educational experience for generations to come.
What do Fellows do when they’re not teaching students?
All tutors at Hertford are engaged in research. When you have tutors who are the forefront of investigation into their subjects, undergraduates get the benefit of learning from the people who are leading their disciplines. However the connection between research and teaching is under threat. Financial pressures mean that some UK universities now advertise ‘teach-only’ contracts. Meanwhile, the expectation that Higher Education institutions should constantly attract more grant income means that leading researchers must devote less time to teaching, which is increasingly delegated to postgraduates. At Hertford we are determined to resist these pressures.
Hertford supports fellows as researchers as well as tutors. For every seven terms in post, fellows are entitled to one term of research leave. Fellows are encouraged to present new work at conferences and participate in fieldwork; financial support is available for equipment or specialist literature. All of this is valuable in itself but it also enables Hertford academics to preserve a vital research virtue – autonomy. Research funding is available from other sources but it this often comes with strings attached. It may mean accepting another’s agenda concerning the direction of research, or an expectation of a quick return on investment. It is also vital that some space be left for independent, sometimes even maverick, researchers to set their own goals, to explore unproven theories or unrecognised topics. A fellowship at Hertford allows this freedom.
I was pretty nervous for my first tutorial. But over the three years I have definitely gained confidence and I have learned how to think around a problem. When a world-class academic challenges your view there is nowhere to hide! That will stay with me for life.