Equal Opportunities - Disability


St Catherine's College aims to provide an environment which both values and promotes diversity and equality of opportunity, encouraging all our staff and students to fulfil their potential. This approach includes all policies, procedures, practices and plans.

This section provides information about the specific ways in which we endeavour to make the College even more accessible to individuals with disabilities, and also provides a more general overview of legislation and our response to that legislation.

Legal Context

Discrimination on the grounds of disability is prohibited by the Equality Act 2010, both generally and in the following specific areas:

  • Employment
  • Access to services, premises and private clubs
  • Education

Disability is defined by the Equality Act as "a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-lasting effect on a person's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities". A "long-lasting effect" is one which is likely to last 12 months or more, or is likely to recur. "Normal day-to-day activities" might include physical activities such as mobility, physical coordination, memory or ability to learn, manual dexterity, or speech, hearing or eyesight.

Discrimination (all types), harassment and victimisation are all prohibited. In addition, it is illegal to discriminate for a disability-related reason.

Discrimination by association is also prohibited, and therefore the legislation extends the protection offered to cover people who are not themselves disabled but are associated with a disabled person. For example, it is illegal to discriminate against someone who is not themselves disabled but who is the carer of a disabled person.

Service providers are required to make "reasonable adjustments" to any aspect of the physical nature of their premises or to any "provision, criterion or practice" which places a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage compared with a non-disabled person. Examples of reasonable adjustments might include installing a wheelchair ramp to enable access to buildings, or providing additional support or equipment to enable a disabled person to undertake their duties (e.g. modified computer equipment). What count as "reasonable adjustments" are a matter of context and will depend on a range of factors.

The duty to make reasonable adjustments only applies to those who disabled; therefore, the College is not required to make adjustments for people who, for example, are carers of those with disabilities but who are not themselves disabled.

In addition to the above, the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 prohibits discrimination in relation to school admissions, exclusions, and the education or associated services provided to pupils. Higher education establishments must also provide auxiliary aids or services, and have a duty to make adjustments to physical features.

The College's Position

Under UK legislation, St Catherine’s College has a positive duty to promote equality of opportunity between disabled persons and other people, and to seek to eliminate unlawful disability discrimination and harassment. We are also required to promote positive attitudes towards disabled people, encourage participation by disabled people in public life within the College, and take steps to meet disabled people’s needs (even if this requires more favourable treatment).

The College works continuously to address areas of concern, to ensure that our existing policies, procedures and practices are reviewed, where possible with the involvement of disabled members of the College, and to identify any further areas which can be improved as part of this ongoing process. Through the Equality Committee and other mechanisms we aim to review and report on our progress in ensuring that students and staff experience a consistently inclusive and supportive environment to assist them in reaching their full potential.
We ask that staff, students and potential students tell us if they have a disability or long-term health condition to enable us to:

  • make any ‘reasonable adjustments’ that they may need in your work or study;
  • understand any difficulties they may have, and how we can help;
  • monitor whether processes such as staff recruitment are carried out fairly.

We welcome feedback at any time, as we endeavour to ensure that what we do is meaningful, focussed on the right priorities and will have a real impact on the experience of members of the College, visitors and other interested parties – with or without disabilities. We would therefore be pleased to receive any comments and suggestions, and these may be emailed (with "Equality - Disabilities" in the subject line) to the Home Bursar at bursar@stcatz.ox.ac.uk

In particular we are always interested to receive answers to the following questions:
1. What do we do well in terms of supporting students/ staff/ visitors with disabilities?
2. What policies, procedures or practices exist within the College that are barriers to disabled people?
3. Can you suggest how we can remove these barriers?

Support and Advice

Guidance on our personnel policy may be sought from the Personnel Advisor. Students may seek advice from the Academic Registrar.
The University DEO Unit provides a network of harassment advisers and is also responsible for updating the Code of Practice on Harassment.
The University offers training in best practice for those involved in the admissions process, recruitment and selection, management and teaching.

Further Information

The University website contains useful links to relevant legislation, as well as providing details of the ways in which the University has sought to fulfil its commitments to promoting disability equality.
The University has its own Disability Office, and University Disability Staff can provide staff and students with information and advice on a range of issues relating to disability. Specialist advice is available to students via the University Counselling Service, and to staff via the University Occupational Health Service.

St Catz Charity Music Concert

Catz student Daniel Shao (2013, Music) and Catz Music Society have organised a music concert in aid of the Oxford branch of ‘Crisis’ (the national charity for single homeless people). The concert will showcase a wealth of musical talent, and Catz alumni will perform alongside current Catz students.

Date: Monday 11 May 2015

Time: 17:30-18:30

Venue: Holywell Music Room, Holywell Street, Oxford, OX1 3BN

Simon Russell Beale Lecture Podcast

Simon Russell Beale delivered his Inaugural Lecture as the Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre on Monday 2 March 2015 at St Catherine's College.


Simon’s Inaugural Lecture, entitled ‘Everything’s remade/With shovel and spade’: Playing Shakespeare with Simon Russell Beale is now available as a Podcast.

Simon Russell Beale Lecture Podcast

Simon Russell Beale Lecture Podcast

Simon Russell Beale delivered his Inaugural Lecture as the Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre on Monday 2 March 2015 at St Catherine's College.


Simon’s Inaugural Lecture, entitled ‘Everything’s remade/With shovel and spade’: Playing Shakespeare with Simon Russell Beale is now available as a Podcast.

Simon appeared in conversation with broadcaster, Libby Purves. He spoke on his distinguished career in the theatre, with a focus on his Shakespearean roles in contemporary theatre.

About Simon Russell Beale

Actor and music historian, Simon Russell Beale has been hailed as ‘the greatest stage actor of his generation’. A graduate of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, his diverse career has spanned theatre, television, film, and radio. He has taken on some of the most distinguished roles in theatre, including the title roles in King Lear at the Olivier Theatre and Hamlet at the Lyttelton Theatre. An Associate Artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company, his many accolades include a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor in Henry IV Parts I & II and a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in Uncle Vanya. From May to July 2015, Simon will star in Temple, a new play at the Donmar Warehouse about the 2011 United Kingdom anti-austerity protests.

Commenting on his appointment, Simon said ‘I am hugely looking forward to my year as Visiting Professor, and feel very honoured to have been asked. It allows me to indulge, even further, my obsessive interest in Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and I hope that the students I meet will enjoy our working together. I know for certain that I will learn a huge amount.’              

The Master of St Catherine’s College, Professor Roger Ainsworth, said ‘We feel immensely privileged to be welcoming Simon Russell Beale to St Catherine’s, and I am delighted that he has agreed to take on the role of Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre. Simon’s impressive list of stage and screen acting credits span a remarkably diverse career, which has included theatre, television, film, and radio. Our students will be very fortunate indeed to have the opportunity to learn from such a versatile actor.’

About the Cameron Mackintosh Chair of Contemporary Theatre

The Chair of Contemporary Theatre, founded through a grant from the Mackintosh Foundation at St Catherine's College, aims to promote interest in, and the study and practice of, contemporary theatre. The Visiting Professorship has previously been held by actors, writers, directors, and producers including Stephen Fry, Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Miller, Alan Ayckbourn, Richard Eyre, Phyllida Lloyd and Patrick Stewart.


Photo courtesy of Guy Bell: www.gbphotos.com

Support, advice and further information

Guidance on any of the College’s personnel policies may be sought by staff from the Personnel Advisor.

Students may seek advice from the Academic Registrar or the College’s harassment advisors.

The University’s Equality and Diversity Unit provides lots of information and advice on its webpages, including the contact details of individual advisors: http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/eop/

The University’s Disability Advisor Service provides information and advice for students and can assist students with organising disability-related study support: http://www.ox.ac.uk/students/welfare/disability

The University’s Counselling Service can offer support and advice: http://www.ox.ac.uk/students/welfare/counselling

Oxford University Student Union (OUSU) provides information on a range of subjects on its website: http://ousu.org/advice/life-welfare/ . They also have advisors students can contact.

Test Alumni Book more info page

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Studying English at St. Catherine’s is a rigorous and rewarding intellectual challenge that will prepare you to excel in wide range of future careers, but we all know that literature is more than an academic subject and impacts our lives in ways that can’t be measured by exams. This is why the Catz English tutors and students have founded their very own Literary Society, named ‘Catz-22’ in honour of one of most famous literary alumni, Joseph Heller, author of the novel Catch-22, who studied at Catz as a graduate student and later went on to become an Honorary Fellow of the college.

Catz-22 is a forum where students can develop their love of literature beyond the tutorial and classroom.  We welcome anyone studying literature at Catz, including English and Modern Languages, and throw our doors open to those from other subjects who have an interest in literature too.  This year saw a wide range of events taking place, from trips to the theatre to regular theory reading groups and termly film screening to a Careers Workshop featuring Peter Knowles, Controller of BBC Parliament, who read English at Catz in the 1980s. In our theory reading groups, over a glass of wine, tutors and students have discussed everything from literary games, developments in contemporary feminism, avant-garde British poetry, and African-American literary activism.

Catz has one of the largest communities of undergraduates and graduates studying English, and a rich history of producing writers such as the acclaimed novelist Jeanette Winterson (Oranges are Not the Only Fruit), poet Caroline Bird, award-winning novelist Katherine Rundell, and Guardian theatre critic Michael Billington.  As a vibrant new addition to the life of literature at the College, Catz-22 ensures that no student will ever end up in the position of poor Clevinger in Heller’s Catch-22: “He knew everything there was to know about literature, except how to enjoy it.” 

Pictures above: Recent events include a trip to see 'The Pillowman' at the Playhouse Theatre in Oxford and a film screening of 'The Cabinet of Dr Caligari'.

Test Fellows Book more info page

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Catherine Rawes

Academic Officer (part-time)

What Are You Doing Now?

We are very much looking forward to welcoming you back to Catz for your upcoming Degree Day.

In advance of the day, the Master would very much like to know what you have been up to since leaving Catz. Please take a few moments to tell us what you are doing currently, or what your plans are for the near future.


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