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Happy 139th Birthday Hughes Hall

Today we celebrate 139 years’ educating and empowering students from around the world to inspire change.

At the time when Hughes Hall was founded in 1885, education for girls was becoming more common, but education for teachers was still difficult to come by.

Seeing a need for this provision, the establishment of a teacher training college in Cambridge was organised. Elizabeth Hughes, a bright graduate from Newnham College, was chosen to be Principal of Cambridge Training College for Women Teachers (CTC), as it was originally named.

An early photograph of the Margaret Wileman Building

An early photograph of the Margaret Wileman Building

Hughes Hall shared the egalitarian vision of colleges like Girton and Newnham in its early days, but was set apart in specialising in the admission of women graduates. The College was the first to offer a provision for graduate students specifically, which is why today it is known as the ‘Oldest Graduate College’ of the University.

It wasn’t until 1948 that women were allowed to become full members of the University, and within a year of that change the College became a ‘recognised institution’ of the University and adopted the name Hughes Hall after our first Principal.

Elizabeth Hughes, first Principal of Cambridge Training College

Continuing to evolve, the College began to admit students studying for a wide range of post-graduate degrees from the 1960s, and began to accept men in 1973 – the first all-women College to admit men in the University of Cambridge.

In 2006, Hughes Hall was officially granted its Royal Charter and formally became a full College of the University of Cambridge. There have been sixteen principals since its foundation – now formally called ‘President’ – and it is currently led by Sir Laurie Bristow.

Today, Hughes Hall welcomes postgraduate students and mature undergraduates

From the very beginning, Hughes Hall has been an institution focused on educational excellence to support practical and positive change in the world beyond academia. The student community is amongst the most internationally mixed, cosmopolitan and diverse of any college in the University, and supports graduates and mature undergraduates in all fields and from all walks of life.

We are looking forward to the 140th anniversary of the College next year and are reflecting on the events and activities that could help us celebrate this milestone with the many people who make our College special.

For more information on the history of the College, see: www.hughes.cam.ac.uk/about/history.