A NEW school of government welcomed its first students yesterday.

The 39 students at Oxford University ’s Blavatnik School of Government – Europe’s first major school of government – will begin studying a one-year master’s degree in public policy.

The school is based at University College until a new £30m building is built on the former Radcliffe Infirmary site in the new Radcliffe Observatory Quarter in Walton Street.

The new building is being created thanks to a £75m donation from the billionaire tycoon Leonard Blavatnik, which is paying for more than 40 academic posts and the new, purpose-built school. It is hoped the new building will be open in September 2015.

Professor Ngaire Woods, the school’s dean, said: “We are excited to see a diverse and exceptional group of scholars in the first class of our Master of Public Policy.

“To pursue the course, many are breaking from established careers in aid, medicine, engineering and journalism as well as government and international institutions.

“Over the next year, we will provide our students with the skills and knowledge to be exemplary and effective leaders, whatever their policy focus and wherever they work.”

The students come from 17 countries. The school will train outstanding graduates from across the world in the skills and responsibilities of government.