Joe Hooper






Public Administration


Sep 2016 - May 2018

By Joe Hooper

Oxford College Life

Being part of a College is among the many unique facets of life in the EMBA programme, and as I have written before just one of the many communities you can get involved in. The Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Durham use such a unique college system, and for undergraduate and graduate students they are the center of academic and social life.

For EMBA’s things are rather different given the scheduling of the programme, and as such the Colleges have little direct impact on your studies or academic life, but from a social perspective and for building your network they can be important (so some initial research upon your application is recommended). Along with four other students of our EMBA cohort I was accepted to Balliol College, whose social calendar this past module was rather busy.

The first event of the week was the annual formal/black tie ball held on the College grounds. Alumni, Grads, Undergrads, and guests arrived in various interpretations of ‘black tie’ and ‘formal.’ A variety of music acts played on, drinks were had, some attempted dancing whilst the wiser amongst us wall-flowered the evening away in well-dressed company. The Ball is a student run event with different themes each year – though this year’s left a few of us puzzled.

On Tuesday all the Balliol students in the business school – those undertaking MBA, EMBA, Msc Finance etc. – were invited by the Dean Tufano (also a Professorial Fellow at Balliol) to his home in the evening for a mingle and chat. For the Dean to open his home to us was such a pleasure, and it was a rare opportunity to discuss with him the future plans for the School, how he sees the connections with other Schools such as Blavatnik School of Government and the Oxford Martin School developing, and to meet with students in other programmes. Afterwards we all moved over to the College for dinner and continued the discussions.

The third and final college event of the week was a formal/black tie dinner for all Balliol students. 300+ students all tucked into the dining hall made for quite an experience. Indeed it was a lesson learned for us that you arrive early or will face a challenge getting seats.

Not all students in our cohort have had the same College experience, and I think that is largely due to Colleges still coming to terms with how to interact with EMBAs who do not reside during term time nor participate in seminars. Our group has made a point of staying connected and booking events, and Balliol itself has been brilliant in reaching out to us often. So as I head back home I wonder what has made me more exhausted this time: the studies or the social schedule!





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