New and returning students title graphic
New and returning students title graphic

New and returning students

(Page last updated on Friday 22 October)

#WelcometoOxford to all new and returning students for the 2021/22 academic year.

We realise that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on all students, and we are doing everything we can to help provide the support you need.

We will keep you updated with the latest information, so please continue to check this page regularly.

If you are a graduate offer holder, the information on this page will be relevant to you.

FAQs are also available for different groups of students – including information for graduate offer holders about meeting your offer conditions.

If you are looking to apply for study at Oxford, please refer to the pages for prospective undergraduate or prospective graduate students.


Latest updates

Changes to international travel rules from Monday 4 October (updated 4 October)

The UK Government has announced changes to international travel rules, which make it easier for students to arrive in the UK for in-person teaching.

From 4am on Monday 4 October, the UK Government’s rules for international travel to England changed from the red, amber, green traffic light system to a single red list of countries and simplified travel measures for arrivals from the rest of the world. The rules for travel from countries not on the red list depend on individuals’ vaccination status. The new rules reduce restrictions for some individuals who have been vaccinated outside the UK. Detailed information about the changes is available on the UK Government website, and more information can be found below.


Health and vaccinations

Health and safety measures (updated 6 September)

We all have a responsibility for reducing the risks of COVID-19 while living, studying and working in Oxford.

The University will implement health measures as appropriate for different settings.

In Michaelmas term, we're asking all our new and returning students to Be Responsible. Be Considerate. Be Safe. In particular you should:

  • Get vaccinated as soon as possible if you have not already done so
  • Wear face coverings where indicated (unless exempt)

  • Test regularly, and if you have symptoms

  • Stay at home if you are unwell

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap or sanitiser

  • Be considerate of other people’s space

You do not have to socially distance, apart from in specific locations, in which case your college or department will notify you.

If you are a clinical medical student, you should follow hospital rules, which are more stringent than University guidance.

Our approach to health and safety continues to be informed by Oxford’s clinical academics, as well as local and Government guidance.

Behaviour in the community

You are expected to follow health guidance at all times when in Oxford. In particular we urge you to be considerate of other people’s space, and wear a face covering when asked, when you are out and about around the city and University. This will help to reassure the wider Oxford community that students care about reducing COVID-19 risks as we return to being together once again. Students who act in a way which is likely to put members of the community at risk, or who bring their college into disrepute, may be liable to college or University disciplinary measures.

For more information, go to the health page of this site.

Self-isolation (updated 6 October)

 What to do if you’re a COVID-19 contact

If you’re a contact of someone with COVID-19, you’ll need to self-isolate (unless you’re exempt). Even if you’re exempt, you’ll still need to get a PCR test within 5 days of finding out you’re a contact, and you’ll be strongly encouraged to take a LFD test twice a week. Read the guidance for contacts of people with COVID-19 on the UK Government website.

Self-isolation and quarantine rules for international students (added 6 October)

The UK Government currently has different rules in place governing self-isolating and quarantine for those arriving from overseas.

Under its guidance, people can avoid quarantine after arriving in the UK if they have proof of vaccination with an approved vaccine from a number of specific countries.

However, you can only avoid self-isolation (if you are the contact of someone with COVID-19) if you have been vaccinated in the UK.

You can check if you qualify as fully vaccinated (in relation to international travel); and read the rules on self-isolation in the UK on the UK Government website.

The University and colleges understand that this is causing concern and confusion for some students and we are working with the wider sector to ask the Government to align the guidance.

We are currently obliged to follow Government rules, but will alert you if any changes are made.

Testing arrangements (updated 6 October)

Testing when returning to Oxford

If you are arriving from outside the UK, you should follow all testing and quarantine advice from the UK Government, and in your home country carefully (go to the Travel & Visas section below for more information).

If you live in the UK, you should take a lateral flow device (LFD) test before you travel to Oxford. You can order the tests for free online or collect them from your local pharmacy.

 If you test positive, you must self-isolate at home and take a confirmatory PCR test. If the PCR test is positive, you must continue to self-isolate and not travel to Oxford until you have completed your self-isolation. If either the LFD or confirmatory PCR test at home is negative, you can travel to Oxford.

 You should then take two more LFD tests when you arrive in Oxford. The first should be on the day you arrive, and the second three days later.

Testing while you are in Oxford

We strongly encourage everyone studying or living on site to take an LFD test twice a week, every week while they are in Oxford, to help everyone feel safer.

You can pick up LFD test kits from your college or other LFD Collect points across the University (or go to the NHS website for other ways of obtaining LFDs).

Find out more about regular testing on the University’s symptom-free testing page.

If you experience COVID-19 symptoms at any time, or get a positive LFD result, you must immediately self-isolate and book a PCR test for free through the University’s Early Alert Service.

International travel testing advice (added 6 October)

If you’re travelling to or from the UK, you’ll need to get tested for COVID-19. Please note that the you cannot use the University’s Testing Service to provide proof of a negative PCR test for international travel purposes. For information about travel testing, please refer to the ‘Updated guidance for COVID-19 international travel testing’ in the travel and visas section below.

Vaccinations (updated 11 October)

Please get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible if you haven’t already.

Getting vaccinated will help to:

  • Avoid self-isolation: those who are fully vaccinated in the UK no longer have to self-isolate in their room if they come into contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19.
  • Reduce disruption: the more people who are vaccinated, the more we will be able to retain the unique aspects of Oxford’s student experience, and help you make the most of university life.
  • Protect friends and family: vaccines dramatically reduce the risk of transmission and serious illness. Getting vaccinated will help protect the people you live and work with, and the wider community.

90% of people in the UK aged over 16 have now had a vaccine.

The more students who are fully vaccinated, the safer our community will be, and the less disruption there will be to your university experience.

Anyone in the UK aged 12 or over can now get vaccinated, and there are many drop-in clinics available as well as the NHS online vaccination booking service. You should make sure you get your second vaccine at the earliest opportunity (8 weeks after your first jab). You can get your second dose in Oxford if you had your first one at home.

If you’re outside the UK, and have access to a UK-approved vaccine, please get vaccinated as soon as you can. If you don’t have access, you will be able to get vaccinated for free when you arrive in the UK, regardless of your nationality or immigration status.

Please remember you are only fully vaccinated two weeks after your second dose.

Proof of vaccination status

Make sure that you bring proof of the vaccines you have received with you when you travel to Oxford.

The UK Government has indicated that it may make full vaccination a condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather in the near future.

If you have been fully vaccinated in England, you can find details on the government website of how to get the NHS COVID Pass and what you can use it for.

Please note that under current Government rules, you can only avoid self-isolation (if you are a contact of someone with COVID-19) if you have been vaccinated in the UK. Refer to the 'self-isolation and quarantine rules for international students' section above for more information. 

For more vaccine information, review the FAQs below, as well as the information for international students on the UKCISA website.

Vaccination FAQs (updated 24 September)

I am an international student. How will I get a vaccine?

If you can get vaccinated with a UK-approved vaccine before coming to Oxford, please do so. If this is not possible, you should register with a doctor (also known as a GP) as soon as possible and get an NHS number once you are in the UK. If you plan to register with a college doctor, you are encouraged to send your registration forms in advance of your arrival, so that you can complete your registration on the day you arrive. Find out more about registering with a GP on the Oxford Students website, or contact your college for more information. Once you are registered, you will be able to book a vaccine online using the Government service, or visit one of the temporary vaccination centres for Oxford students (refer to ‘temporary vaccination centres’ section above for more information).

What should I do if I’ve received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination in my home country, and it is not a vaccine that is being offered in the UK?

If you have received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine that is also available in the UK, you should receive the same vaccine for your second dose. If the vaccine you received for your first dose is not available in the UK, the most similar alternative will be offered. You should discuss with your UK GP which vaccine would be most appropriate for you so that they can make the necessary arrangements.

Do international students need to pay for the vaccine?

No. Nobody in England has to pay for the COVID-19 vaccination. The COVID-19 vaccination is free of charge and does not count as the kind of care that requires payment.  If you see any requests for payment, you should report this to the University.

I am not sure whether the vaccine I have had is currently recognised in the UK. What should I do?

You can find the list of vaccines currently approved by the UK Government on its websites. The list was expanded on 4 October. If you arrived in the UK after 4 October, please refer to the updated list of recognised vaccines. When you come to the UK, you should ensure you have proof of the vaccines that you have received. If you are unsure about your vaccine status, you should speak to your college doctor or GP when you arrive in the UK, and they will advise you.

I have received a vaccine approved for use in the UK. Will this be recognised/do I still need to quarantine?

Ensure that you bring any proof of the vaccines you have received with you.

If the UK Government considers you to be 'fully vaccinated', you will be able to avoid quarantine on arrival in the UK.

You can find the list of vaccines currently approved by the UK Government on its websites. The list was expanded from 4 October. If you arrived in the UK after 4 October, please refer to the updated list of recognised vaccines.

Please note, the UK Government currently has different rules in place governing self-isolating and quarantine for those arriving from overseas.

Under its guidance, you can only avoid self-isolation in the UK (if you are the contact of someone with COVID-19) if you have been vaccinated in the UK. Please refer to the 'self-isolation and quarantine rules for international students' section above for more information. 

Please be aware that this is also subject to exceptions and change. If you are arriving from a red list country, you must follow the UK government rules and quarantine in a managed hotel even if you have been fully vaccinated.

What does fully vaccinated mean?

In the UK, you are considered to be fully vaccinated 14 days after your final dose of an approved vaccine. If you were vaccinated in 2 doses it must be with the same approved vaccine. For example, if your first dose was Moderna your second dose must also be Moderna. Find out more about vaccination and the proof required.

Please note, the UK Government currently has different rules in place governing self-isolating and quarantine for those arriving from overseas. Please refer to the 'self-isolation and quarantine rules for international students' section above for more information.  

Teaching and learning

We are committed to maintaining the highest possible standards of education, building on our experience over the course of the last year.

In-person teaching and research (updated 4 October)

We will continue to focus on personalised teaching and supervision from leading academics, including tutorials and other types of small group learning, such as masters’ seminar groups.

In line with the latest UK Government guidance, we are planning to provide most teaching in-person in the new academic year, as normal. This will be enhanced by high-quality online resources and, in some instances, online teaching.

Face coverings are expected during in-person teaching of larger groups (unless you are exempt). They are not expected in smaller group University teaching, seminars and classes.

We have contingency plans if additional restrictions are in place or if local circumstances make this necessary (go to the ‘supporting your education in all scenarios’ section below for more information).

Online support (updated 26 July)

Building on the increased levels of online teaching in recent months, we have a range of new tools and technologies to support your learning. The University’s virtual learning environment, Canvas@Oxford provides an accessible and high-quality digital learning experience, and feedback from students has been very positive.

We are also investing in technology in the classroom, so that students can access high-quality teaching, whether that be in-person or online.

We will ensure that online teaching activities are engaging and draw on the rich resources available through our colleges, libraries and collections.

Exams and assessment (updated 26 July)

During the pandemic, the University developed and enhanced remote forms of assessment, and now has a dedicated e-assessment platform, Inspera, which has been used by thousands of students across the University.

We are currently developing plans to build on this experience in the next academic year – continuing to offer a variety of different assessment types, from online open book exams to in-person examinations.

Departments will confirm the way you will be assessed at the start of your studies this year. This applies to all forms of assessment – exams and submissions. This communication will include any back-up plans if it is not possible for in-person exams to go ahead.

Oxford Transition Support (updated 6 September)

Starting at Oxford is an exciting time, but it is normal to feel some anxiety about making this move - particularly this year when your school, college or university education is likely to have been disrupted.

We want everyone to enjoy their time at Oxford, and succeed in their studies. Irrespective of your background, and how COVID-19 has impacted you, we are working together across the University and colleges to help you make the most of your time here.

Go to the Oxford Transition Support page of the Oxford student website to find out more about how we can support you as you adapt to Oxford. The website now includes information about resources available from colleges, departments and the central University.

Fieldwork and years abroad

We expect that students will be able to take part in fieldwork so long as specific risk assessments are conducted, and COVID-19 is taken into account. This includes fieldwork overseas where Government restrictions allow travel to take place. We also expect field trips to go ahead whenever it is safe to do so.

If you have a year abroad planned as part of your academic course, we will support you in seeking to take up this opportunity in a safe way. Please visit our FAQs for Year Abroad students page for more information and general updates. There will continue to be an enhanced risk assessment process, and some flexibility may be needed depending on the restrictions in place in your destination country. Alternative learning arrangements may be arranged in a small number of cases if in-country placements are not viable.

Supporting your education in all scenarios (updated 21 September)

We are planning for a range of scenarios, and are committed to maintaining the highest standards of education regardless of the impact of the pandemic.

While the core content of your course and the educational opportunities open to you will not change, we will have contingency plans in place to introduce additional health measures such as social distancing; and move more teaching and assessment online, if Government restrictions are re-introduced. 

Decisions will be made based on the level of local cases in the Oxford area and the prevailing health advice in the run-up to the start of term.

We are also working to make education accessible to all students – whether you are learning in-person or online.

To find out more about what you can expect in Michaelmas term, download the Expectations of Teaching and Assessment in Michaelmas Term 2021 document.


Travel and visas

Arriving and residing in Oxford (updated 26 July)

We hope all students are able to come to live and study in Oxford from the start of the academic year.

Students are expected to reside in Oxford during term time (excluding part-time and some DPhil students), and residency requirements will be in place for full-time students in the autumn (Michaelmas) term.

We recognise that arriving for the start of the year may not be possible for some students – particularly some international students (see 'arrival for international students' section below) or students with relevant health conditions or disabilities.

If you believe you are unable to travel to Oxford for the start of term, it may be possible to apply for an exemption from residency requirements. You should first discuss this with your college or department and then complete a residency exemption application form.

Please note, if you are in a red list country, you should not fill in this form, and should instead refer to the ‘for students in red list countries’ section below.

Arrival for international students (updated 4 October)

The University is working hard to welcome international students to Oxford; and this letter from the UK Minister of State for Universities outlines the steps the UK Government is taking to support those coming to study in the UK.  

As of Monday 4 October, a new system is in place for those arriving in the UK, with a single list of red list countries, and simplified travel measures for arrivals from the rest of the world. The rules also reduce restrictions for some individuals who have been vaccinated outside the UK. 

There is a wide range of rules about testing and vaccination requirements, depending on the country or territory that you are arriving from. These rules are subject to regular change, so it is vital you carefully review both local travel advice in your own country, and the UK Government website

You will need to arrange to take a COVID-19 test and complete a passenger locator form before travelling to the UK.

Please refer to the sections below about arriving from red list countries.

The University and colleges will not routinely meet the costs of COVID-19 PCR tests taken or booked before travelling to the UK. 

For students in red list countries (updated 14 September)

If you live in a country which is on the red list and are unable to travel to Oxford for the start of the academic year, you will qualify for an exemption from residency requirements., but you must complete an online application form as soon as possible. 

To qualify for the exemption, the country you live in must have been on the red list as of 1 July 2021 (or subsequently be added to the list between 1 July and the start of the academic year). You will still be exempt even if the country is removed from the red list before the start of the academic year.

If you plan to travel to the UK, you should first review the red list rules on the UK Government website, and will need to book a quarantine hotel package.  You may also find this PDF document about the Government’s Managed Quarantine Service useful. 

You should be aware that the University and colleges will not routinely meet the quarantine costs for students arriving from red list countries (currently £2,285). You may also be placed in a hotel which is some distance away from Oxford (and will be provided with transport back to the airport you arrived at after your quarantine ends). 

If you have concerns about your ability to travel to Oxford, you should first discuss this with your college or department and then complete an online residency exemption application form for students in red list countries. You should complete the form even if your course has already started. 

For students in non-red list countries (updated 24 September)

On Monday 4 October, the UK Government’s international travel rules system changed. There is now a single list of red list countries, and simplified travel measures for arrivals from the rest of the world.

The new rules also reduce restrictions for some individuals who have been vaccinated outside the UK. Go to the UK Government website for detailed information about the changes to travel rules.

If you do not qualify as 'fully vaccinated' under UK Government rules, must quarantine for 10 days.

If you wish to take part in in-person teaching at the start of your course, you will need to arrive in the UK with enough time before your course start date to complete your period of quarantine.

If this is not possible, you will need to complete quarantine and participate in your course online for that initial period.

If you will be living in college or University-managed accommodation and want to arrive before your accommodation contract starts to complete your quarantine, you should contact your college or the University Graduate Accommodation Office to find out if they can accommodate you early.  

If you will be renting privately, you should plan to arrive in your rented accommodation 10 days before the start of your course. If this is not possible (for example, because of the lease dates), you should contact your college or the University Graduate Accommodation Office to find out if they are able to provide you with temporary accommodation before the start of your course. 

You will need to arrange to take a COVID-19 test before you travel and test when you arrive in England. You must book your tests before you travel and leave enough time for them to be delivered to your address in England. You can find out more and view a list of test providers on the UK Government website (see also the 'Updated guidance for COVID-19 international travel testing' section below).

For the latest information, go to the UK Government website.

Updated guidance for COVID-19 international travel testing (updated 22 October 2021)

If you’re travelling to or from the UK, you’ll need to get tested for COVID-19. Please note that you cannot use the University’s Testing Service to provide proof of a negative PCR test for international travel purposes. You also cannot use LFDs issued by the University or your college or received in the post from the NHS or collected at a pharmacy for travel testing purposes. Travel LFD and PCR tests must be purchased privately. You can find out about suggested test providers below or learn about different testing requirements for international travel on the UK government website.

Staff and students are free to use any of the government-approved providers to arrange COVID-19 testing when travelling abroad and returning to England. This is a new and growing market, and all providers may experience capacity issues, leading to challenges with achieving advertised response times and service levels. Pricing is also subject to frequent change.

Where a postal service is acceptable, we have had reports of successful use of services from Biograd Diagnostics and Qured.

For in-person testing in Oxford the following services are available and are listed without any warranty or reports as to quality of service: 

Tests should be arranged and paid for personally, with the usual processes applicable for reimbursing expenses incurred in relation to University business where appropriate.

Visa information

If you need to apply for a student visa, the Student Immigration team is available to help with any queries. Most visa centres around the world are now open although local government restrictions may occasionally continue to affect some regions or countries opening some, or all, of the visa centres in that country.

A comprehensive guide to completing the online visa application is available on the student visa webpages. It contains links to check if the visa centre is open in your country or local area, if there are government restrictions in place.

Please note that you must attend your biometrics appointment and obtain your student visa before coming to the UK. You cannot arrive as a visitor and switch status once you arrive here. We cannot enrol you on a visitor visa, which means you would not be able to start your course.


Student life

Student experience (updated 4 October)

Throughout the pandemic, we have worked with student representative groups to maintain the supportive and enriching environment that contributes to the Oxford experience.

We are working to ensure all students are introduced or welcomed back to Oxford life in as full a way as possible at the start of the year.

New students usually formally become members of the University through a ‘matriculation’ ceremony in the Sheldonian Theatre. We expect this event to go ahead in person. If restrictions require it, it will take place online as it did last year.

Oxford’s students’ union, Oxford SU, is hosting a Welcome Week, including (pending Government guidance) an in-person Freshers’ Fair, giving new and returning students the chance to engage in their wider student community, and find out about the clubs, societies and local organisations that support students.

Oxford’s wide range of clubs and societies are continuing to run, using their experiences of the last year to provide both in-person and online opportunities, so that all students can enjoy the benefits of getting involved.

Student services

All University services such as Welfare, Careers, Fees and Funding, Visa & Immigration and the Language Centre are continuing to operate. Given the popularity of online services provided during the past year, they will offer a good mix of online and in-person appointments and activities, depending on students’ preferences, and the restrictions in place at the time. 

University and college sporting activities have now restarted in-person and are being supplemented with an online offering. We expect all levels of sporting activity (from club to casual) to continue to be available in line with government guidance.

Colleges (updated 15 September)

Colleges are at the heart of student life at Oxford and have adapted effectively to the challenges of the pandemic. They will continue to work hard to make facilities, such as dining halls and social and leisure facilities, available to students – in line with government guidance and local health and safety advice.

College households

Colleges are grouping students into informal (or ‘shadow’) households this year. This will not affect who you can socialise with in your college. However, if someone in your ‘shadow’ household receives a positive test result, you will be identified as a close contact and will need to self-isolate (unless you are fully-vaccinated).

If the public health situation changes, a more formal households system may be put in place in colleges at short notice, which will limit socialising outside households. This approach was adopted in the last academic year, and was successful in limiting the spread of COVID-19.

Welfare and support

Welfare services (updated 6 September)

We understand the pandemic has been challenging or difficult for many reasons. We empathise with the disruption you have faced and will work to support your wellbeing throughout the next academic year.

We will maintain Oxford’s exceptional system of welfare and personal support for students. This includes college support as well as University welfare services, including the Counselling Service, the Disability Advisory Service and the Sexual Harassment and Violence Support Service.

This will be supplemented by online resources, such as Togetherall, a free service for all Oxford students giving you access to a global welfare community 24/7.

We will also provide welfare support for students who need to self-isolate.

Self-isolation support (updated 26 July)

The rules on who needs to self-isolate are under review by the government and may change. In the event that you need to self-isolate, the University and colleges will provide academic, pastoral and welfare support as appropriate.

The levels of support that we are currently planning are outlined below, and additional guidance will be provided ahead of the start of term.

Students living in college accommodation
Your college will be able to assist you with access to essential services such as food and cleaning products. Your college will also provide pastoral support.

Students living in University graduate accommodation
You should expect to be as self-sufficient as you can and you will be provided with information on food delivery and other services. Supermarket and prepared food delivery services are readily available in Oxford.  You should contact your college for advice and pastoral support.

Students living in private accommodation
You should expect to be as self-sufficient as you can. You should contact your college for advice and pastoral support. Supermarket and prepared food delivery services are readily available in Oxford. We advise you to keep 10 days’ worth of food in the house in case you have to self- isolate, including easy to prepare items. 

Regardless of your accommodation type, if you need urgent medical assistance, you should dial 111.

While you are self-isolating, your tutor, course convenor or supervisor will be able to facilitate the continuation of your teaching or research remotely, where practicable. 

Go to the Travel and Visas section below for information about self-isolation on arrival from another country.

Financial support (updated 8 October)

The University has set up two financial support schemes for students in response to the pandemic. The COVID-19 Assistance Fund (CAF) provides grants for some students who have suffered financial hardship due to the pandemic; while the COVID-19 Scholarship Extensions Fund (CSEF) supports postgraduate research students whose completion has been unavoidably delayed by the pandemic. CAF is open, while CSEF will open later in October. This is in addition to the usual assistance programmes which are available to students facing hardship. 

In addition, the University will grant all postgraduate research students a four-week grace period before assessing liability for University Continuation Charges in Michaelmas term 2021. Go to the Fees and funding section of the FAQs for new and returning students page for full details.

If you have a question that isn't answered on this page, please go to the FAQs pages of this site. 


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