outreach at Oxford
Local community

Local community

Last reviewed 22 February 2021

Oxford University would like to reassure its neighbours in the local community that our plans for the current academic year put the health and wellbeing of our students, staff and all those we share this city with as our highest priority.

We are working closely with our colleagues in the local authorities and public health bodies, as well as Oxford Brookes University, on a range of measures to ensure we are able to continue our teaching and research safely and in accordance with government guidelines. We are also engaging with community partners, residents’ groups and business organisations to keep everyone living and working in Oxford fully informed as the situation develops.

The University has launched its COVID-19 response hub, providing detailed information on our plans for the 2020–21 academic year for people studying, researching, working and living in Oxford.

The University participated in a virtual town hall event on Monday 28 September about the return of Oxford’s student population. The event, hosted by Oxford City Council, gave residents the opportunity to ask questions about preparations to safely welcome students back to Oxford. To watch a recording of the virtual town hall please visit Oxford City Council’s YouTube channel.

See the latest community news.

Buildings and facilities

An enhanced cleaning regime has been introduced across the University estate and college buildings. This involves regular cleaning of contact points such as door handles, banisters and bathrooms. Additional facilities are in place for everyone working at and visiting our sites to maintain good hygiene such as through regular hand washing with soap and water or hand sanitiser.

Areas open to the public have been adapted to ensure social distancing and appropriate ventilation, with clear signage and markings. Perspex screens and barriers have been installed in areas where social distancing is more difficult, such as in laboratories.

Face coverings are required in indoor shared spaces.

Our students and the community

We have committed to offering the majority of our students a room in college or University accommodation. The University has grouped these students into ‘households’ where they share high-contact facilities such as bathrooms or kitchens. Students in college accommodation needing to self-isolate will be supported by their college welfare officers.

Those students living in private accommodation who are required to self-isolate will do so at that accommodation, but we will make welfare support available for them where appropriate. In addition to this, international students travelling to the UK will be supported by the University in the event that they have to self-isolate upon arrival.

Students have been asked to sign the University’s Student Responsibility Agreement when they arrive in Oxford. This Agreement sets out the behaviours we expect from them so that they can protect themselves, each other and the community. The Agreement includes a requirement to adhere to the rules for social distancing, to request a test immediately and self-isolate if experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19, and follow guidelines on interacting with other households. We are also advising our students to show consideration to the local community by only travelling in pairs when outside of University or college premises.

If you see behaviour you are concerned about, you are welcome to contact the University Security Services team in the first instance. Phone 01865 272944 or use this online form. If the behaviour is taking place outside University or College property, you can report it to Oxford City Council or to Thames Valley Police. We are in regular dialogue with local authorities and will liaise with them and take action as appropriate, based on the circumstances at the time.  If Oxford students are not found to be involved, we will be unable to take any action. 

Students who act in a way which is likely to put members of the community at risk may be liable for college or University disciplinary measures. We have a number of options available, from fines to suspension, and in the most serious cases, expulsion. Where students have broken the law they will be liable to police enforcement. This includes fines ranging from £200 for failing to wear a face covering, up to £10,000 for very serious offences. 

University testing service

The University has established an in-house coronavirus testing service, in collaboration with the NHS and Public Health England, which is available to all our staff and students. The testing service will allow us to quickly track and isolate any cases of COVID-19 among any of our staff and students, helping to prevent transmission to the wider community. 

Members of the public can request a free NHS test (at a test site or via a home test kit) by applying online at the NHS coronavirus testing website.

The University’s testing sites will help reduce the burden on the local NHS test and trace service, and allow us to support Public Health England with tracing contacts and deploying immediate sanitisation regimes in the event of a positive result.

The latest data from the testing service can be found on the University Status and Response webpage.


Further details on our health and safety and wellbeing measures can be found on the Keeping our community safe and well page of the University’s COVID-19 Response site.

If you are a resident of Oxford and have a query about the impact of our plans on the community, please contact the University’s community relations team at local.community@admin.ox.ac.uk.

We will reply via email and will aim to respond to your query within 24 hours.

If you are an Oxford resident and have concerns about an incident of student behaviour, please contact the University Security Services team by phone on 01865 272944 or use this online form.

Local information and resources

Key information and guidance on the local response to COVID-19 from the council authorities and NHS in Oxfordshire can be found via the following links:

Digital and learning resources available to all

As part of our response to the introduction of lockdown and social distancing measures, the University has made a wide range of online learning resources and other content available for the public to access for free:

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