St Hilda's blocks male fellows

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The Independent Online
St Hilda's, Oxford University's only remaining all-women's college, yesterday refused to back proposals to admit male dons.

The college, Alma Mater of Gillian Shephard, the Secretary of State for Education, was forced to consider the change because its single-sex status means it does not have enough science fellows. While it is allowed to fill its own fellowships with women, it does not have the money to do so.

The change in statutes would allow it to share the cost of fellowships with the university and accept university appointments, four-fifths of which go to men.

At present the college has only four fellows in science compared with the ten it needs.

The college's governing body voted in favour of admitting male fellows by 17 to 10, but a two-thirds majority is required to change the statutes and end a 100-year-old tradition.

Undergraduates and postgraduates at the college who had campaigned against the change were delighted with the result. In a recent poll, seven out of ten opposed the idea of male fellows.

Katherine Terrell, 23, a postgraduate who is president of the Middle Common Room, said: "We are extremely pleased. One of the main reasons we oppose the change is that the status of women within the university is not what we would like. Only 17 per cent of fellowships are held by women and in science it is only 5 per cent."

But she added: "We are a bit worried about the college's future. We urgently need to raise money for fellowships."

There is no plan to admit male undergraduates. Ms Terrell said students feared the presence of male dons would lead to co-education in the future.