Wadham Scholarship

The Norwegian Oxford scholarship to Wadham College is a prestigious scholarship with a long history - it can be seen as a Norwegian parallel to the famous Rhodes scholarship.

Several well known names have had the scholarship in the past, the most prominent is probably the famous poet and war hero Nordal Grieg.

The scholarship is open for application from all students at University of Oslo who wish to study at Oxford University. The scholarship is linked to Wadham College, and to subjects taught there (most disciplines).

The scholarship is normally around NOK 100.000 for one years study. With top-up financing from Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund (“Lånekassen”) this works out very well for the selected scholar.

Application deadline is usually in September or October for studies the following academic year. More information and application scheme here.

A NUTSHELL HISTORY

The idea for a scholarship fund enabling students from The Royal Frederik’s University, as Oslo University was then called, to study for one year at Wadham College in Oxford was conceived in 1919 by a young alumnus of the college, who during the war years 1914-18 had held the post of British vice-consul in Kristiansund N, a port- and fishing town on the west coast of Norway. His name was Arthur Ivor Garland Jayne, son of The Lord Bishop of Chester.

Young Jayne had married a daughter of Professor Bredo von Munthe af Morgenstierne, at one time Rector of the University in Oslo (1912-1918). Morgenstierne was a well-known lawyer, orientated towards Britain (among his books we find one on English parliamentarism). Like Jayne’s brother and Fridtjof Nansen, the famous Polar explorer (and Norway’s ambassador to London in the critical year of 1905), he gave NOK 5000.- towards the establishment of a Scholarship Fund. Altogether Jayne succeeded in raising NOK. 60 000.-, or approximately GBP 2780 – a considerable sum at the time. He spent his later life as a lecturer in English at Oslo University.

Arthur Jayne retrospectively explained his initiative in a letter dated 14. October 1945 to Professor Didrik Arup Seip, the then Rector of Oslo University, in the following words:

”At the time of the first world war - - - a considerable amount of ‘Allied’ propaganda material, sent to Norway and intended to inform Norwegian opinion about the war, proved ill-adapted to enlist the understanding sympathy of those who had previously had cultural or business contacts with the nations in conflict with the Allies. The experience seemed to indicate the great importance of any educational facilities which would bring the youth of Norway and Britain into really close association with each other. It struck me that one useful step in that direction could be some permanent arrangement which would enable Norwegian students to participate in the typically English form of university life that exists in the college system of Oxford and Cambridge. Without actual residence in a college this is impossible. But whereas foreign students have been able to attend courses at English universities, it has always been very difficult for them to obtain permission to reside at a college, sharing to the full all that the college environment can offer.”

Arthur Jayne succeeded with his plan. From 1920, with the exception of (for unknown reasons) the years 1926-27, and of course the war years 1940-44, Norwegian students were awarded the Norway Scholarship for studies of the most varied description. However, as the basic funding of the scholarship proved inadequate, the scholars soon became dependent on supplementary grants from other university funds, but from the late 1970s even this arrangement proved inadequate to meet rising costs. For some years no scholars were appointed at all. The basic foundation capital had by then shrunk to only NOK. 130 000.- (about GBP 6500.- at the current rate of exchange) – a quite inadequate sum. In the late 1970s Alf Bøe (Wadham 1952), head of the Committee, called on Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation’s Andor Birkeland (Wadham 1946), former Accountant Sven Guldberg (Wadham 1937) and former Minister for Culture Helge Sivertsen (Wadham 1938). With the help of the College and of the British Ambassador to Norway, William Bentley - later Sir William Bentley (a Wadham man) they were able to raise NOK 1 170 000 (around GBP 117 000). In the 1990s Bøe formed a new committee consisting of Michael Benskin (St. Peter’s 1965), professor at the Department of British and American Studies of Oslo University, Haakon Melander, banker (Balliol 1966); and Erik Rudeng (Norway scholar 1969). Iver B. Neumann (Norway Scholar 1988) was recruited as young blood in 1993. When Bøe retired in 2003, Neumann took over as chair. Blindheim and Neumann formed a Norwegian chapter of the Oxford Society, with Blindheim as chair. Since 1981 the Committee has organized an annual dinner with a guest of honour from Oxford University, who has also given one or more lectures locally in Oslo. Bjørn Blindheim took over the responsibility for these events, and they have continued uninterrupted to this day.

See also: List of Norwegian Oxford Scholars