Open letter from Oxford University to encampment students

The following open letter and associated Notice have today been delivered to student members of the encampments.

Open letter from Oxford University to encampment students

Thursday 27 June 2024

Dear student members of the encampments,

I am writing to you by way of an update on key matters, and to ask you formally to vacate university land.

The University recognises the importance of peaceful protest and the deeply felt concerns of its members about the current situation in Gaza and Israel. Through Trinity term largely peaceful protests have been led from the encampments outside the Museum of Natural History and around the Radcliffe Camera. However, the forced entry of Wellington Square and the occupation of the Examinations Schools were totally unacceptable.

This letter sets out our position in full.

Student and staff engagement

As Oxford students, who are also members of the encampments, you have had many formal and informal meetings with the University to date, in which senior colleagues acting on behalf of the University, and an OUem representative, listened to, considered, and discussed your concerns. This follows a range of meetings this year with various student groups that some of the encampment students are members of, as well as individual students and members of staff.

We acknowledge and appreciate these student and staff meetings as a constructive way to discuss matters of concern and we remain committed to continued discussion via these regular meetings and we appreciate your input into the University’s thinking.

Review of the University’s investment policy

You will be aware that the University announced on Thursday 20th June in the Gazette University of Oxford Gazette - 20 June an accelerated University wide review of the current prohibition on direct investments in companies manufacturing arms that are illegal under UK law as well as investment in funds which invest primarily in such companies.

This initiative was discussed with you at our meeting on Friday 21st June and we note that you have welcomed this in your social media posts. 


As a University of Sanctuary, we have expanded our scholarships for displaced people over recent years and we have committed to doing so in directly helping Palestinian students. 

We have current offer holders of Palestinian nationality, some already have scholarships through our sanctuary scholarships; and we have been reaching out to prospective donors, colleges, and departments to see if we can support more offer holders for the upcoming academic year. 

Looking ahead, we are continuing to work on a collegiate University crisis scholarship scheme for students normally resident in Gaza and the West Bank for admission in 2025-26.


To support academics-at-risk, we have increased our CARA subscription to support their operations and committed further funding for fellowships for this year.

We are actively looking at what more we can do to support academics-at-risk and students from Gaza, and through the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office we are planning to support their efforts on the ground, being guided by them regarding what is possible and requested.

On the provision of teaching and researching materials - we recognise that our online library services and courses are a route by which we can immediately help, and we are looking to offer 'scan and deliver' opportunities to openly share collections and resources with scholars and students in Gaza and the West Bank. 

On the deployment of teaching content – we have an incredible asset in the resources of Oxford University Press – and they are looking to work through their charitable partners to supply print and online resources to students and academics as they have done in other crisis. We are also in discussion with relevant partner organisations in the region to support the coordinated delivery of teaching and learning content.

Use of University land: our position

We have listened to your and other student and staff concerns during our meetings this year. We have acted as a result of these meetings, as is outlined above.

However, with the end of term and amid mounting concerns about the effect the camps have had on our academic mission and on the wider community, the University intends to return the sites of the camps to their normal purposes.

The University’s concerns include:

  1. The camps being used as a base for unlawful activity such as the incursion into the Wellington Square offices and the occupation of the Examination Schools.
  2. Interference with academic activity at the University, including blocking the entrances to the Sheldonian Theatre during a graduation ceremony and the cancellation of an examination.
  3. The impact on users of the Radcliffe Camera library including disabled users being unable to access the library.
  4. The damage caused to the University’s land, including significant damage to the lawns as the result of the encampments and planting of trees by protesters.
  5. Complaints about the camps from students.
  6. The failure of protesters to consult with the Proctors in advance of the setting up of the camps, in contravention of the University’s Guidance on Demonstrations and Protests and Code of Practice on Meetings and Events.

We have already closed the site outside the Museum of Natural History in the interests of public safety and to prevent damage to the infrastructure (eg the irrigation system and the protection for our collections) beneath the lawn. All your plants and trees have been carefully relocated to the Parks nursery. Please contact me to arrange their return within a month, after which they will be used within the University parks or disposed of. 

The University now gives notice that it intends to close the encampment around the Radcliffe Camera. You are instructed to disband the camps and vacate the land in accordance with the enclosed notice.

If the camps are not disbanded by midnight, Sunday 7th July the University will apply to the court for a possession order. The University will not pursue disciplinary action against students in respect of their presence on the camps up to 7th July.

Yours sincerely,

Gillian Aitken CB 
The Registrar
University of Oxford

Professor Thomas Adcock
Senior Proctor
University of Oxford 

For and on behalf of the Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford.