University of Oxford and W&L establish study abroad partnership

Photo of Mansfield College, Oxford. Photo courtesy of

Photo of Mansfield College, Oxford. Photo courtesy of

Virginia Kettles

Students who dream of studying at England’s esteemed University of Oxford may have the opportunity to do so through a new W&L study abroad partnership with one of Oxford’s member colleges.

Washington and Lee University recently signed a ‘memorandum of understanding’ with Mansfield College, located at the famed university in Oxford, England. This memorandum will give W&L students the opportunity to take classes at the university for one year in their chosen field of study with an assigned tutor.

After a previous connection between W&L and Oxford was terminated several years ago, W&L’s Director of International Education Mark Rush decided to coordinate this new partnership.

“We thought it would be good to reconnect with Oxford, to give our students a better opportunity to go over there and study as a visiting student,” Rush said. “We’re hoping to redevelop the relationship between the two universities.”

Rush secured the program through correspondence with Mansfield College’s Director of International Education Helen Lacey.

During the 2016-2017 academic year, up to five W&L students with a GPA of 3.7 or higher will be nominated to study at Mansfield College during the 2017-2018 academic year. Applications for the opportunity will be reviewed by a small committee of faculty around January. Any student can apply, regardless of year or major, and the process is expected to be quite competitive, given the few spots available for the trip. The opportunity will be further publicized in the fall to raise awareness of the new partnership.

“I hope [the partnership] will grow,” Rush said. “Perhaps we will do other sorts of exchanges and have faculty opportunities in the future.”

As for the few students selected to attend Mansfield College, they will be expected to choose a certain field of study and learn via a tutorial-based model of education, rather than the American, small-college model that W&L practices.

Nathan Richendollar, ‘19, is happy that W&L is reconnecting with Oxford.

“The program sounds very intriguing, and I’m glad that W&L students will have such an opportunity to visit and study at such a prestigious institution. Hopefully a little Virginia hospitality rubs off in England,” he said.

Holly Pickett, the associate professor of English at W&L, is familiar with the tutorial model at Oxford, as she was the liaison for W&L during a summer school opportunity at the university.

“It’s probably the world’s most expensive and effective educational model,” Pickett said. “You’ve got one professor, two to three students, and it’s intense and discussion-based. It’s a really great way to learn, because you can’t hide in the back of the class. You really engage with the material in a deep way.”

Applications to participate in the Mansfield College program at Oxford University will open in the fall.