Information for referees | University of Oxford
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Information for referees

Referees are kindly requested to submit an online reference form, including a reference letter, to assist the University in making a full assessment of each applicant’s academic record and abilities.

How to submit your reference

We advise applicants to contact and register their referees as early in the application process as possible. 

As soon as an applicant registers you as a referee, you will receive a short automated email with the applicant's details and a link to the online reference system. It will also include the deadline for your reference, as entered by the applicant in their application form.

Submitting a reference will involve the following steps:

  • access the reference system using the link supplied to you
  • answer a few short questions about the applicant and their academic record
  • upload your reference letter as a PDF file or JPG/JPEG image
  • submit your reference.

FAQ: How to convert your document to PDF file format

Once you have submitted the form, a confirmation will appear on screen. 

Please note that you will not receive a confirmation email, and that you will not be able to access your reference letter once submitted, so you may wish to retain a copy for your records.

Your reference letter

Your reference letter should comment on the applicant’s academic achievements (or relevant professional achievements, if professional), your assessment of their work under your supervision, their suitability for the course they are applying to, and any other information you consider relevant.

You can find details of our courses and their individual entry requirements in our Courses A-Z if it would be helpful in writing your reference.

Impact of Coronavirus

Where relevant, please do include in your reference details of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as any teaching that was missed, what alternative provision for remote education was provided and how grades were calculated. You may also cover any circumstances specific to an individual, such as whether the student or a close family member was affected by illness or bereavement, or any barriers that impeded their engagement with online provision.

Contact information

Applicants are required to register referees with their institutional or professional email address. If you do not have an institutional or professional email address, we would be grateful if you could give your full contact information in your reference letter and explain very briefly why it was necessary to use an alternative email address, eg if your academic institution does not issue email accounts. 

Confidentiality

In the event of a subject access request, your reference may be disclosed to the applicant. If you wish your reference to be treated as confidential, please select this option in the reference form. If you are submitting your reference letter directly by email or in hard copy and wish it to be treated as confidential, please clearly indicate this at the top of the letter.

Automated emails and reminders

The notification email with the information you need to access to the system and any subsequent emails from the online reference system are sent immediately on the applicant’s request. The timing and frequency of these automated emails are under each applicant’s control, though all applicants are also strongly advised to keep in contact with each of their referees directly throughout the process.

If you cannot find or do not receive the initial email then the applicant can re-send this to you. 

Deadlines for references

Please note that references must be received by the University’s application deadline in order for that application to be considered.

It is the applicant's responsibility to accurately communicate the deadline that they intend to use to you, to ensure that all of their referees are given good notice of the deadline they intend to apply for, and to arrange alternative referees if any of their referees cannot meet the deadline.

If you are no longer able to act as a referee, we would kindly request that you let the applicant know directly.

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