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A Benedictine hall of Oxford University is planning to expand its premises in order to admit female students, writes Christopher Lamb.
St Benet’s, a Permanent Private Hall, currently only accepts male undergraduates as it houses monks in formation. But Professor Werner Jeanrond, the master of St Benet’s, says they are actively fund-raising to purchase a new property that would admit both men and women.
Professor Jeanrond said St Benet’s is currently not canonically permitted to accept women as undergraduates to live in the hall because it is also forming monks. There are six monks resident, four of whom are studying.
However, Professor Jeanrond said, the new building would help build up St Benet’s infrastructure to make it similar to other Oxford colleges. He added that there are also plans to upgrade the existing building, which can accommodate 25 students.
The master stressed that the expansion would also help to preserve and develop the Catholic tradition of the hall. St Benet’s was founded by Ampleforth Abbey in order to allow its monks to study for degrees at the university. Ampleforth still oversees St Benet’s but appointed Professor Jeanrond as the first lay master last year.