Ruskin College joins the University of West London

The historic Oxford-based adult learning college approached UWL due to years of “financial challenges”

Ruskin College, Oxford has become part of the University of West London (UWL), due to “financial challenges”.

Ruskin College, Oxford was founded by two American postgraduate students in 1899, to provide educational opportunities for the working-classes. Its focus continued to be students who had either missed out on formal education, or who faced obstacles to study. It has close links with trade unions and alumni include Labour MPs Dennis Skinner and John Prescott, and June Rose Nala, one of the leaders of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.

Degrees taught at the provider were initially validated by the University of Oxford, with which it retains close links, but have been awarded by the Open University since the 1990s.

Ruskin College has been beset by financial difficulties for several years. It was first issued with an Education and Skills Funding Agency financial health notice to improve in 2014. In February this year it announced it would merge with Oxford education and training group Activate Learning – a deal that fell through. The college’s principal was suspended in May 2021 following an audit which threw the college’s financial viability into further doubt.

UWL’s leaders have vowed to respect the iconic institution’s heritage and traditions.

“This is an exciting moment in the history of both Ruskin College and the University of West London,” said Professor Peter John CBE, vice-chancellor of UWL.

“We look forward to reenergising the College so it can continue to deliver its historic mission while ensuring its learners achieve their full potential.”

Jennifer Bernard, chair of the UWL board, said the board had been “unanimous in its decision to bring Ruskin College into the University of West London family.

“Our vision is to combine Ruskin’s traditions with our own deep commitment to the delivery of a genuinely exceptional education for all.”

The University of West London (UWL) already has three campus sites: in Ealing, Brentford and Reading.


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