Back in early November, you may have received an email from Oxford asking you whether you would like to opt out of allowing a Permanent Private Hall to consider your application. If you didn’t opt out, then you may have been allocated a Permanent Private Hall for your first interview – or you might be pooled to a Permanent Private hall when you are up, interviewing at Oxford. Permanent Private Halls are like colleges in most ways – except that they don’t have a college charter – an expensive certificate that you have to buy from the university to state that you are a college. Usually a rich alumnus will buy it, but many of the PPHs (as they are known) now do not want a charter as operating slightly independently allows them to preserve their particular traditions and religious affiliations.
The PPHs all belong to a particular religious denomination and train priests and ministers alongside the undergraduates studying for their degrees. You don’t have to belong to the religious domination, nor attend any religious ceremonies – or even believe in God – but you are expected to respect the traditions. If you go to a PPH, you are still a member of the university and will receive your degree, same as everyone else. PPHs tend to be smaller than the regular colleges, which suits some people down to the ground. The other benefit of the PPHs is that they tend to send their students out for their tutorials – meaning that students can choose who they want to teach them and can usually request the best tutors. The other advantage of a PPH is that you tend to be very well looked after by the college. Studying at a PPH is a slightly different experience to being at a regular college, but the good news is that everyone we’ve spoken has loved their time there.