Established by the Anglican Church over a century ago, St. John's College was the first residential hall of the University of Hong Kong. While the campus has evolved over time, its history of nurturing virtuous leaders who serve wider society continues to be the College's mission.
As Bishop R. O. HALL, one of the College’s earliest advocates, wrote in 1965 –
“Our concern here on this hillside must be always to ensure that graduate members of the University have been infected in their undergraduate days, by tone, temper, and practice, of a faculty with a deep and humane concern for mankind.”
With the admission of the first group of female undergraduates, the Church Missionary Society established St. Stephen’s Hall in 1922 as HKU’s first women hostel. It was operated by St. Stephen’s Girls’ College in the area of Babington Path.
St. Stephen’s Hall has been facing various difficulties, including financial hardship, uncertain lease tenure and lack of space. On the other hand, the hostel places' availability for HKU’s female students has been inadequate.
Therefore, the Women’s University Hostel Organising Committee is formed under the auspices of St. Stephen’s Hall to raise funds for building a permanent women’s hostel.
The roaring thirties saw the blossoming of student life in both Halls. Residents of different nationalities were encouraged to live a communal life and take part in various games and activities. With the addition of a chapel, St. John’s Hall became the religious centre of HKU.
The Church Missionary Society acquires 13 and 15 Babington Path as the permanent site of St. Stephen’s Hall.
Foundation stone of the Marden Wing was laid and the construction was completed in the following year.
The Archbishop of Canterbury visited the College
The Aw Boon Haw Wing and Liang Chi Hao Centre were completed in 1979, expanding the College’s residential capacity by twofold.
“…The first ‘co-championship’ in inter-hall sports competitions ”
The College won, for the first time, both the Malayan Cup and the Rose Bowl in the same year.
The eighties marked a serene and idyllic era in the College, with residents placing particular emphasis on inter-hall games.
Sixth Floor brothers organised the first "Round the Island" (RTI). This idea came to their mind spontaneously, and they completed the run with passion despite not having extensive preparation or road signs on the way. In the following year, when the Ethiopian Famine hit, St. Johnians initiated a full-year fundraising campaign and included RTI, which raised a significant amount of donations. Seeing its social impact, St. Johnians continued the tradition and upheld its spirit ever since.
With the completion of the Wong Chik Ting Hall in 1997, the College became the first HKU residence to provide both undergraduate and postgraduate accommodation. In the same year, College tutors introduced St. John’s Reborn and Mission 2000.
The College struggled financially and faced an autonomy crisis. In the following year, the College, residents and alumni joint hands to organise a series of fundraising activities, such as St. John’s Festival and the 80th anniversary gala dinner.
“The launch of St. John’s Renaissance”
The Students’ Association launched St. John’s Renaissance in 2015 to liberalise student life. The College revised its educational missions with the aim of nurturing respectable future leaders and introduced an internationalisation and integration programme. By 2019, a 50:50 proportion in the number of local and nonlocal residents was attained.
The Students’ Association conducts organisational reform and designates English as its official language. The College revises its educational missions with the aim of nurturing respectable future leaders; an internationalisation programme is introduced.
“…the character of students no less than their intellectual faculties”