FAQs for current students | University of Oxford

FAQs for current students

Last updated: Friday 19 February 2021

Before reading these FAQs, you should first refer to the following pages, as the information you are looking for may already be available elsewhere on this site: 

Teaching, learning and assessment

What changes are being made to the arrangements for students?

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University is having to make important changes to teaching, assessments and other services - to maintain our world-class learning experience for all students, and to minimise risks of infection for students, staff and the wider community. The information on these webpages outlines the changes that will be made. You must read this information, along with any details of changes sent by your College or Department.

Under the terms of your student contract this information, together with the updates provided to you over the summer of 2020, are notifications of material changes under the ‘Changes to Courses’ provisions. When you registered with the University, you have been asked to confirm that you have read this information and that you have consented to the changes.

How are decisions made about how much of my learning is in-person or online?

The structure and mix of in-person/online teaching are department and college level decisions with a number of factors considered, including local needs, safety considerations, room capacity and the latest government guidance. They will provide more information direct to you as the year progresses.

How is the University supporting online learning?

There may be times when staff or students need to teach or learn online, such as during periods of self-isolation or if government guidance or local health and safety advice changes. Our flexible approach to teaching this year means that we will be prepared to switch to online teaching if necessary. We have produced a series of talks to help you prepare for online study. You can access the materials via the Canvas virtual learning environment (no SSO required) – and you can also read some quick tips on getting started with remote study on the Oxford Students website.

We aim to ensure our online teaching is as accessible to as many students as possible. If you require adjustments such as manually edited captions on videos or text description of visual content as a reasonable adjustment, please contact the Disability Advisory Service via disability@admin.ox.ac.uk.

Exams and assessments

How will I sit my exams this year, and will they be in-person or online?  

There will be no in-person exams in Hilary term (with the exception of one medical exam needed to meet professional body requirements).  

A number of examinations are planned to take place in-person in Trinity term, but contingency plans are in place should the pandemic restrictions prevent this.  

Your department will confirm full details of the arrangements that apply to you. There is support available for students taking all types of exams – whether in-person or online.

When will I find out when my exams will take place in Trinity term and what format they will be in? 

Exam timetables (including the format) will be published on the Timetables page of the Oxford student website throughout Hilary Term, as soon as they are agreed with Exam Boards. The exact exam timetable for Trinity term will be released towards the end of Hilary term, as usual, and personal exam timetables will be issued via Student Self Service at least two weeks before your first exam. 

What arrangements are in place to ensure that in-person exams will be COVID-safe? 

Full details of the safety measures being put in place are available in the In-person Exams Guide for the current term. They include reduced venue capacities, the wearing of face coverings throughout, later start times to allow for socially-distanced arrival and only one sitting per day to facilitate enhanced cleaning.

What happens if I can’t do an in-person exam because I am in self-isolation? 

In exceptional circumstances, such as the need to self-isolate, it may be possible to sit an in-person exam remotely, under the online observation of a remote invigilator. If your circumstances change and you are unable to sit your exam in-person, please contact your College office immediately for further advice (or your department if you do not have a college).

What platform will I use to take online exams?

In Hilary term, all online open-book examinations will take place using the existing WebLearn platform. You can find more information on the Hilary term exams page.
 
From Trinity term you will use a new user-friendly and intuitive online assessment platform called ‘Inspera’.
 
You will have opportunities to familiarise yourself with Inspera, and we aim for you to have hands-on access with a ‘demo’ version during February. If you are sitting your exams in Trinity Term, you will also be able to take a practice exam at least two weeks before your first exam to become confident about using the new platform. The new Trinity term exams page provides guidance on how you can prepare for and take online exams this year using Inspera.

What if I feel that COVID-19 has adversely impacted my academic performance in the 2020/21 academic year?

If you believe your academic performance has been seriously affected by the COVID-19 situation and/or a medical or personal issue you can submit a mitigating circumstances notice to your examiners (MCE) via your college (or your department if you do not have a college). You can find more information on the Examinations guidance page.

I don’t think I’ll be able to submit my coursework or dissertation on time because of COVID-19. What should I do?

Students are able to self-certify an extension of up to seven days for non-coronavirus reasons of ‘illness or other urgent cause’ and for up to 14 days for reasons related to coronavirus. Longer extensions are available based on the circumstances and supporting evidence. See the Problems completing assessment page.

How will I submit my assessments in the 2020-21 academic year?

This year all assessments for taught degrees subjects should be submitted online via WebLearn, or via the anonymous submissions platform approved for your department. If you have any questions about submitting your work, please contact your departmental administrator.

The Submissions Desk in the Examination Schools will not be open to any submissions before the end of the 2020/21 academic year (unless otherwise indicated).

For postgraduate research students

Research Degree submissions will still be via the Research Thesis Digital Submissions portal.

You will not need to submit a hardbound copy of your DPhil thesis to the Exam Schools in order to graduate, following being granted leave to supplicate, during the 2020/21 academic year. This also includes any students who were unable to submit a hardbound copy due to COVID-19 in the 2019/20 academic year. However, all candidates do need to submit an electronic copy to the Oxford University Research Archive (ORA) a minimum of five working days prior to your graduation date. You will not be able to attend a degree ceremony (even in absentia) without doing so. If access to your thesis needs to be restricted, a hard copy of your thesis will still need to be submitted to the Exam Schools. It is anticipated that it will be possible to submit these from October 2021, but this will be subject to confirmation. Hard copies should not be printed and submitted to the Exam Schools or arranged for print and delivery via print services in the meantime, before it is confirmed when it will be possible to receive them.

Research fieldwork

I plan to take part in research fieldwork. What should I do?

During the national lockdown, field trips will be postponed or replaced by alternative online provision unless deemed essential to meet learning outcomes.

When government restrictions allow it, all research fieldwork and overseas travel will be subject to a suitable and sufficient risk assessment which must include consideration of the COVID-19 risk – and in line with your department’s policies. Further information, including COVID-19 specific fieldwork risk assessment templates, can be found on the Safety Office website.  Risk assessments for travel to countries or regions where the FCO advises against all but essential travel or all travel, must be reviewed by the Safety Office and approved by the Head of Department. All other travel can be signed off by departments without referral to the Safety Office, but in accordance with their own departmental approval procedures.  If you are taking part in research fieldwork, you should speak to your supervisor in the first instance.

Academic impacts

What support is available for students impacted by COVID-19 in the 2020/21 academic year?

The University is committed to supporting all students during the pandemic, given the disruption we all face. 

Financial support includes the COVID-19 Hardship Fund, as well as the COVID-19 Scholarship Extension Fund for postgraduate research students.

We also plan to put in place a comprehensive package of mitigation measures, designed to ensure all students receive fair grades, in light of this year’s exceptional circumstances. This 'academic support package' will comprise:

Measures for whole cohorts
Firstly we will ensure that, at cohort level, this year’s students are not disadvantaged relative to pre-pandemic years. This will be achieved by comparing the overall class distribution as well as the mean and spread of marks at paper level and adjusting by scaling where necessary.

Measures for individual students
Secondly, we will ensure we consider the impact of the pandemic on individuals. To do this, we will introduce an enhanced Mitigating Circumstances notice to Examiners (MCE) process. As in Trinity term 2020, you will be able to make MCE applications setting out the disruption you have experienced during the pandemic, we are exploring changes to make the process easier; and you will not need independent medical evidence. We will also offer improved support and guidance for both students and examiners, to ensure MCEs are handled with empathy and consistency. For submitted work affected by access to resources, you may be able to include a statement with your submission, so that it can be considered during the marking phase, rather than after marking by exam boards.

These measures are intended to offer the fairest outcomes for all students. We are now working through the detailed implementation, in consultation with Oxford SU representatives, and are committed to providing full details of these processes by the middle of Hilary term.

Declared awards will remain in place for the very small number of students who are unable to complete their assessments, and who are unable to suspend their studies in order to return in the following academic year.

I need to complete a log to record how my studies are being disrupted due to COVID-19. What should I include?

You can include a note of any disruption which is linked to the pandemic. Examples of what you might include are:

  • Your own illness
  • Illness of family members
  • Increased caring responsibilities (whether due to illness or due to e.g. the impact of COVID-19 on your or your family members’ employment, or the impact of school/nursery closures)
  • Impact on your mental health
  • Impact of COVID-19 if you are a student with disabilities/long-term health conditions, e.g. you are at higher risk of COVID-19, or you are having difficulties with accessing support which would normally be available
  • Financial impacts
  • Inability to pursue your planned studies at present due to lack of access to facilities such as laboratories or libraries; inability to travel to undertake fieldwork; or inability to meet with research subjects, where alternatives are not available and the impact on your studies cannot be mitigated (you should discuss with your supervisor tutor whether alternatives are available)
  • Difficulties with your environment for remote study, e.g. poor-quality internet connection, lack of IT facilities, lack of study space
  • Impact on the availability of your tutor(s) which is affecting your progress (e.g. due to supervisor illness or caring responsibilities)

This list is not exhaustive, so please also record in your log any other disruption you have experienced due to COVID-19.

Will there be a ‘no-detriment' policy in place for the 2020/21 academic year?

The University continues to believe (in line with other Russell Group universities, and their student unions), that a formulaic policy for all students is not the right approach, and that a more considered and tailored solution is required. The reasons for this are set out clearly in the Russell Group statement.

Instead we plan to put in place an assessment support package, comprising a set of mitigation measures designed to ensure all students receive fair grades, in light of this year’s exceptional circumstances. See ‘What support is available for students impacted by COVID-19 in the 2020/21 academic year’ question above for more details.

Will students be able to opt for declared awards in the 2020/21 academic year?

Declared awards’ were introduced in 2020, to account for the COVID-19 pandemic. They will still be available for students in their final year in 2020/21, including students on one-year Masters who started in Michaelmas term 2020. Like last year, the declared outcome is intended only for those students who cannot complete their assessments and who are unable to suspend and return the following year. If you have concerns about your ability to complete your assessments this year, you should talk to your college or department about the options available to you. As in previous years, you can submit a mitigating circumstances notice to examiners if you have particular issues with completing assessments, which you wish to bring to the attention of examiners, both for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19-related reasons.

Specific information for postgraduate research students

Disruption to study

My research has been disrupted because of coronavirus. What should I do?

We know that research may have been disrupted because, for example, students have not had their normal access to laboratories, or to archival material which they need. If this applies to you, you should discuss with your supervisor what alternative work you can undertake, depending on the stage of your research (e.g. literature review, work with remote data, writing up), and how your research project might be adjusted. We know that it will not always be possible to adjust your project, but if it is possible to any extent you should aim to do so.

We advise that you record the disruption you experience in the log provided by your division/department, to help ensure that you receive any extensions/suspensions/deferrals of Transfer or Confirmation of Status you may require at a later date. Keeping a log will act as a reminder for you in the future, but is not intended to require very extensive or frequent recording of details.

It is suggested that logs should include brief details of disruption experienced and dates (e.g. lack of access to archives during Trinity term 2020, working at 50% rate due to childcare responsibilities during Hilary term 2021), and should be detailed enough that it will be possible for the purpose of future applications for you to look back at them to write an account of how your study was disrupted. Logs should be reviewed at regular intervals to ensure that they are updated when necessary (but they may not need to be updated at every review).

We have also introduced a process that may allow for some of the disruption caused by the pandemic to be taken into account at Transfer, Confirmation and Viva examinations. Each division has produced specific guidance about how to apply and the criteria which would still need to be met to obtain your degree. If you wish to explore this option you should discuss this with your supervisor.

Please also see the guidance on extensions to funding.

I need to complete a log to record how my research is being disrupted due to Coronavirus. What should I include?

Your division/department should provide you with a log to record any disruption to your research which is due to Coronavirus, to help ensure that you receive any extensions, suspensions, or deferrals of Transfer or Confirmation of Status you may require, at present or in the future.

You can include a note of any disruption which is linked to the pandemic. Examples of what you might include are:

  • Your own illness
  • Illness of family members
  • Increased caring responsibilities (whether due to illness or due to e.g. the impact of Coronavirus on your or your family members’ employment, or the impact of school/nursery closures)
  • Impact on your mental health
  • Impact of Coronavirus if you are a student with disabilities/long-term health conditions, e.g. you are at higher risk of Coronavirus, or you are having difficulties with accessing support which would normally be available
  • Financial impacts
  • Inability to pursue your planned studies at present due to lack of access to facilities such as laboratories or libraries; inability to travel to undertake fieldwork; or inability to meet with research subjects, where alternatives are not available and the impact on your research cannot be mitigated (you should discuss with your supervisor whether alternatives are available)
  • Difficulties with your environment for remote study, e.g. poor-quality internet connection, lack of IT facilities, lack of study space
  • Impact on the availability of your supervisor(s) which is affecting your progress (e.g. due to supervisor illness or caring responsibilities)
  • Redeployment to clinical work or Coronavirus-related research

This list is not exhaustive, so please also record in your log any other disruption you have experienced due to Coronavirus. You may also wish to record details of any disruptions as part of your student report in GSR. Keeping a log will act as a reminder for you in the future, but is not intended to require very extensive or frequent recording of details.

It is suggested that logs should include brief details of disruption experienced and dates (e.g. lack of access to archives during Trinity term 2020, working at 50% rate due to childcare responsibilities during Hilary term 2021), and should be detailed enough that it will be possible for the purpose of future applications for you to look back at them to write an account of how your study was disrupted. Logs should be reviewed at regular intervals to ensure that they are updated when necessary (but they may not need to be updated at every review).

I don’t think I will be able to submit my thesis on time because of coronavirus. What should I do?

You have two options available: you can apply for an extension (see below) or, if your work is sufficiently progressed, you may be able to submit your thesis with an explanation of the ways in which the pandemic has impacted upon your planned research, for the examiners to take into account. You will still need to meet the qualitative requirements of your DPhil, but the examiners may be able to take into account the impact of the pandemic on the volume and/or type of research produced. Each division has produced guidance for their research degree students about how to apply for this and the criteria which will still need to be met to obtain your degree. If you wish to explore this option, you should discuss it with your supervisor.

You can apply for an extension if you have reached your maximum submission deadline (the end of your 12th term if you are a full-time DPhil student).

You will be granted an extension if you cannot submit due to the impact of coronavirus.

Extensions due to coronavirus will not count towards the normal limits on the number of terms of extension which can be granted.

If you have not yet reached your maximum submission deadline (i.e. for a full-time DPhil student, you have not yet reached your 12th term), you should not apply for an extension yet. If you later reach your deadline and are unable to submit on time, you should apply for an extension at that point. This will be granted if the reason you need the extension is the impact of coronavirus. You will be able to use your log of the disruption you experience as evidence for the extension.

I don’t think I will be able to submit my work for Transfer or Confirmation of Status on time because of coronavirus. What should I do?

You can apply for a deferral of Transfer of Status or Confirmation of Status if these are due.

You will be granted a deferral if you cannot complete Transfer or Confirmation of Status due to the impact of coronavirus.

Deferrals due to coronavirus will not count towards the normal limits on the number of terms of deferral which can be granted.

If your Transfer or Confirmation of Status is not due, you should not apply for deferral yet.

If you later reach your deadline and are unable to complete Transfer or Confirmation on time, you should apply for a deferral at that point. This will be granted if the reason you need the deferral is the impact of coronavirus. You will be able to use your log of the disruption you experience as evidence for the deferral.

If you do not wish to apply for deferral of Transfer or Confirmation you may wish to have the disruption to your research caused by the pandemic taken into account by the examiners. Each division has produced guidance about how to apply for this and the criteria which will still need to be met to obtain your degree. If you wish to explore this option you should discuss this with your supervisor.  

If you do decide to apply for deferral of Transfer or Confirmation this will not prevent you from also applying to have disruption to your research taken into account.

I’m unable to study at all at the moment due to coronavirus. What should I do?

If you are unable to work on your research at all, you can apply to suspend study. You should discuss with your supervisor how your research project might be adjusted (see ‘My research has been disrupted because of coronavirus. What should I do?’). If the needs of your research mean that you cannot undertake any significant work due to coronavirus restrictions, you might decide to suspend.

You might also decide to suspend because the impact of coronavirus means that you are unable to study due to health issues or caring responsibilities, or other personal circumstances.

You will be granted suspension if you cannot study due to the impact of coronavirus.

Suspensions due to coronavirus will not count towards the normal limits on the number of terms of suspension which can be granted.

You should apply to suspend study once it becomes clear that you will be unable to work on your research at all during a particular term. We know that in some cases this might not become clear immediately, and that you might need to apply later than would normally be the case.

For funding information see the separate section on fees and funding. Student visa holders should see the separate section below about visas.

Assessment and thesis submission

I need to attend my viva, or my interview for Transfer or Confirmation of Status. What should I do?

Both PGR vivas and milestone assessments (Transfer or Confirmation of Status interviews) can be held remotely online via videoconference.

Your Director of Graduate Studies can give permission for this in exceptional circumstances, which of course include reasons related to Coronavirus restrictions. You should agree in writing to the arrangements; and the remote viva should comply with guidance available in Annexes D and E of the Policy and Guidance on Research Degrees

 You can be remote from both examiners/assessors (i.e. three-way remote vivas are permitted). You do not need to wear sub-fusc when attending a remote viva (and neither do your examiners).

Most vivas/milestone assessments are likely to be held remotely online during the Coronavirus pandemic. However, in-person vivas/milestone assessments are not forbidden if they can be conducted within government public health requirements and guidance applicable at the time of the viva/milestone assessment, and if both you and the examiners/assessors wish to meet in person.

If you have concerns regarding remote attendance which relate to disability, your department should explore with you if there are adjustments which could be made which would allow you to feel comfortable in attending remotely. Guidance on adjustments to vivas/milestone interviews is available at Annex C of the Policy and guidance on research degrees. If you have a disability which means that you require an in-person viva/interview, but there will be a delay until this is possible, you should not be required to attend a remote viva/interview instead. Your department should discuss with you the implications of the delay for your work, and any mitigations which can be put in place.

I’ve already attended my viva, but I’m unable to resubmit my thesis with minor or major corrections at the moment, due to Coronavirus. What should I do?

Some PGR students need to resubmit their thesis with minor or major corrections after their viva.

If you are not able to resubmit your thesis to your deadline, and you have been granted the extensions normally allowed, you may be granted a further extension if the reason you are unable to resubmit is due to Coronavirus.

You should contact your Graduate Studies Assistant or departmental graduate administrator to ask about this.

Fees and funding

Will there be any hardship funding available this year?

If COVID-19 has impacted your finances, you may be eligible for a new University hardship scheme. The COVID-19 Hardship Fund (CHF) can provide grants of up to £5,000 to continuing students whose finances have been negatively affected by the pandemic since they began their studies at Oxford. Students must be facing exceptional and unexpected financial need which has led to a shortfall in their finances that they are unable to meet through other sources. This a University-wide scheme which will be administered by your college. More information is available on the dedicated Coronavirus hardship funding webpage.  

A range of financial information, including details of schemes that can provide help for other reasons, is available on the University's Fees & Funding webpages. 

I am a graduate student funded by a Research Council or Oxford Scholarship – will my funding be extended because of the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Postgraduate research students will be able to apply either for funding extensions or hardship support, depending on your current funding arrangements. The latest details are available on the COVID-19 Scholarships Extensions Fund page on the Oxford Students website.

Will there be any changes to fees or funding arrangements?

No. Course fees and funding arrangements will not be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are ensuring that students are able to take advantage of our world class academic teaching and meet the educational objectives of each programme. For these reasons it is not appropriate for course fees to be waived. 
 
The current circumstances are exceptional and well beyond our control, yet University staff are working strenuously to ensure our high-quality teaching, assessments and examinations, go ahead while minimising impacts for students. Other University services (e.g. student welfare, careers support) will continue to be provided even though staff are working remotely. 
 

What is the University position on refunds during the pandemic?

We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected students’ university experience in a variety of ways. We have done everything in our power to respond in a way that supports students and optimises their education within the constraints of the pandemic and the various restrictions imposed by the Government to control the spread of the virus. We have continued to provide teaching, assessments and services at the usual high standard, albeit by different means because of the pandemic. Therefore, the University fully intends to meet all key learning outcomes and to continue to provide excellent teaching and other services, meaning that fee reductions or refunds will not be appropriate. Of course we are continuing to monitor developments affecting students generally.

This position does not affect your right to seek redress through the University’s established complaints procedures if you believe that the University’s academic, administrative or support provision has fallen significantly below that promised in the student contract. You can raise concerns under the University’s Student Complaints Procedure about the academic services provided (such as teaching or supervision) and non-academic matters (such as support services, accommodation, facilities etc.).

If you wish to make a complaint, you should address this to ​the relevant University department or service in the first instance ​(for example, your Department or Faculty if your complaint is about your course). Please refer to the Complaints and academic appeals guidance on the Oxford Students website for more details. Further information about making complaints can also be found in the Course Handbook for your course, in the University Student Handbook, on your Department or Faculty’s website, or by contacting the Department’s head of teaching support.

Please note that in the context of the pandemic, some rescheduling of activities may be essential. It may therefore be difficult to judge the extent to which the University has met its contractual obligations until towards the end of the academic year. You should bear this in mind when considering making a complaint. ​You should also be aware that there is a three-month time-limit from when the matters you are complaining about occurred, for raising complaints with the Proctors, although this can be extended in certain circumstances. If you are in doubt about when to complain you should seek advice from your Department and/or the Proctors' Office.

Will there be any changes to course fees and funding for EU students? 

There will be no changes to fees or funding arrangements as a result of the pandemic. For information about changes resulting from the UK’s departure from the European Union please refer to our Oxford and the EU FAQs page.

How do I open a bank account as a new European or International student?

See the Oxford bank guide for European and International Students with information about how to open a bank account this year. Most banks will now open accounts online and allow you to upload documents online as proof of your identify and your student status. If they require further identity checks, they may ask to do this on a telephone call or arrange an appointment at the bank for you.

If I am attending my course online, will it affect eligibility for funding, for example, US loans?

The exact terms and conditions of funding will vary by funder, and the University is working hard to address any issues arising from changes of format in teaching for specific funding. We can, for instance, provide supporting material to request that funding is continued despite any changes in format.

For US Loans, there is temporary provision in the CARES Act which permits US Loans to be used for courses which are delivered online due to coronavirus; the University continues to work closely with Washington on extending this provision.

For UK government funding, the Student Loans Company have provided guidance for students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Further guidance is also provided for students who have moved back home in the January term. Guidance for students from Scotland is provided by the Student Awards Agency Scotland.

Oxford scholarships and bursaries are unaffected by any online teaching and will be paid as normal.

I am a graduate student funded by a Research Council or Oxford Scholarship. Will my funding be extended because of the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Postgraduate research students who began their programme of study before the 2020/21 academic year will be able to apply either for funding extensions or hardship support, depending on your current funding arrangements. The latest details are available on a new COVID-19 Scholarships Extensions Fund page on the Oxford Students website. 

I am a postgraduate research student. Will I have to pay the University Continuation Charge (UCC) for Hilary and Trinity terms if I submit my thesis after the normal deadline of Friday of 0th week?

The University will grant all postgraduate research students an eight-week grace period before assessing liability for University Continuation Charges in Hilary and Trinity terms 2021. This will allow students to submit their thesis by Friday of 8th week (12 March for Hilary; 18 June for Trinity) instead of the normal deadline of Friday of 0th week (15 January for Hilary; 23 April for Trinity) without incurring the UCC for that term. 
 
This grace period will automatically be provided to you if you submit your thesis by Friday of 8th week, and you will not need to apply for an academic extension to cover late submission of your thesis if it is submitted during the grace period. 
 

Student Life

Student events

What can my club/society/group do socially?

Online events allow you to be as certain as possible that your events will be able to go ahead, and can reach members wherever they are geographically. Suggestions for online events can be found in Oxford SU's information document, which has been updated in the light of ideas and experiences in Michaelmas term.

Any in-person events must take place in accordance with local and national guidance in place at the time.

What resources are there available for me to help plan an online or in-person event?

Oxford SU and the University have developed support for students organising events this academic year.

A comprehensive interactive resource is now available from Oxford SU for you to complete, with support on what you need to think about when organising either an online or face-to-face event, along with lots of ideas.

Further information can also be found in the SU's information document.

A risk guidance tool and templates for in-person events, when permitted, has been published by the University.

Can I arrange an in-person meeting for my club/society/group in College?

It is essential that you speak to your College before organising the event.

Can our society/club/group hold a social event in College?

Colleges are unlikely to be able to give permission for this sort of event while there are restrictions on numbers of people who can meet in person and on household mixing. Consult your College at an early planning stage to ascertain what would be feasible.

Can we host an in-person social event in a non-college venue?

In line with current government restrictions it is not possible to host in-person social events. If restrictions change they may be allowed, in organising any such event, it is essential that you abide by the Government restrictions on numbers at events and mixing households. Some venues may give you permission for a larger event under COVID-secure frameworks.

Our club/society/JCR/MCR is a registered charity. Is it exempt from restrictions on events and mixing households in Government regulations?

Only if you are delivering your clear charitable purpose. For example, if you are a registered charity with the charitable aim of tackling homelessness in Oxford, you could use the exemption to deliver frontline services e.g. giving out food. However, this would not extend to fundraising events such as bingo nights etc. You should speak to your College before proceeding with such events.

Please note that if you are a University-registered club, you cannot use the University’s charitable or education status to exempt you from the restrictions.  

What are the rules for sports and sports clubs?

Organised sport and sports club activities cannot take place in person during the national lockdown and all sporting facilities (indoor and outdoor) must close.  

You can exercise at home or in a public outdoor place. Exercising in a public place must take place by yourself, with the people you live with (or support bubble) or, when on your own, with one person from another household. 

Sport England has provided some detailed FAQ's regarding sport and exercise during the national lockdown. 

Guidance for University sports clubs, when not in lockdown, is available from the Sports Federation SharePoint site or by emailing sportsfed@sport.ox.ac.uk

How can I stay fit and active?

The University is committed to helping students get active despite the restrictions. The Active Anywhere membership, through Oxford University Sport, remains free for students and staff, providing on demand fitness classes, nutrition videos and mindfulness exercises. The sport department has also increased the streaming of both live and pre-recorded fitness classes, which will still take place while the building is closed. Classes will be available through the Oxford University Sport mobile app and online, and will be promoted on social media using #ActiveAtOxford and #StayInAndWorkOut. 

What are the rules for a performing arts group?

Under the lockdown in England from 6 January 2021, the Government performing arts guidance states that non-professional activity, such as amateur choirs and orchestra, cannot take place. Indoor and outdoor performances with an audience cannot take place. Choirs in the context of worship are permitted: please consult your college about what arrangements are possible locally.

A new Online Rehearsal Service is now available to support musicians rehearsing in two or more different locations.

When Government guidance permits, performing arts groups can make use of the specific guidance which has been prepared to facilitate

Health and wellbeing

Do I need to wear a face covering?

All students and staff are required to wear face coverings during in-person teaching and in indoor shared spaces, with exceptions for both individuals and settings where they are not appropriate (for example on grounds of disability). For more information about face coverings, please refer to the face coverings policy.

Do I still need to self-isolate if I have a COVID-free certificate?

COVID-free certificates are not valid in the UK. You will still need to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival.

I consider myself to be vulnerable (for example, I have an underlying health condition). What support will be available to me?

The University is implementing a range of measures to ensure that students can be safely taught in person, where government guidance and local health and safety circumstances allows. We will ensure that all learning can be conducted remotely if necessary for the health and safety of individual students. This includes students in high risk categories who are not able to return to the University. If you have any concerns, you should speak to your GP and/or hospital specialist in the first instance, and discuss with your college or department as appropriate.

Are there any additional safety measures in place for part-time students?

The same safety measures will apply as for full-time students. However, you should wait for information from your department about how your teaching will be delivered as there may be some adaptations (such as the ability to participate remotely in teaching that would normally only be delivered face-to-face).

Colleges and accommodation

Are households larger than six people still allowed, and can we socialise together?

Yes. Households of more than six people are specifically permitted under Government guidelines, and you can still socialise together. However, when outside University and College premises, we encourage you to travel in pairs through the city rather than as a whole household.  This is because when people walk or stand in larger groups, it can be difficult for others to pass whilst maintaining social distance, and may be intimidating for vulnerable members of the community.

What support is available for students who will need to self-isolate in college on arrival in the UK?

Colleges will support all students who are required to self-isolate. Provision will vary by college and students will be accommodated either into temporary small household groups, or singular ensuite rooms with meals provided based on college availability. Please speak to the Accommodation Manager in your college for specific information.

Will I be able to stay in college accommodation during the vacations?

If you do need to stay on in college accommodation for COVID-19 related reasons in the Easter vacation after the end of the standard term your College will assist you. You will need to arrange that in advance and systems for doing so will vary from College to College but all Colleges will be supportive and make sure you have somewhere to stay.  Charges will apply for accommodation arranged for the vacation. If you need to self-isolate during such a stay, your College will support you.

Will students be grouped into ‘bubbles’ within their departments or subject areas?

No this is not something that we are doing. Students are instead grouped into households within colleges and University accommodation and are expected to follow distancing rules in their departments.

What is a College "household"?

A college household is defined as a group of people, typically between six and eight (but could be as small as one or as large as twelve), who live in close proximity, for example on the same staircase, and/or with shared kitchen or bathroom facilities; a group of en-suite rooms with a shared kitchen; or a self-contained flat.

A household of one person means that the individual does not share a bathroom, toilet or kitchen with anyone else.  If the student has an en-suite room, and no kitchen or a kitchen of their own, this could be treated as a household of one person. However, colleges may choose to group en-suite rooms into a larger household.

Households do not include the access routes to them (for example, entrance halls and corridors).

Is a ‘college household’ the same as a regular household?

Most students will now be used to the idea of living in a household where you do not have to practice social distancing. There are some important differences between your college household and what you may be used to at home:

1) Although some college buildings may have the space to receive socially distanced visitors, most colleges are not permitting outside visitors to college households, for the reasons outlined above. Check with your individual college for rules about visits within households and to college more generally. Government guidance may also prevent any visits, e.g. during a lockdown.

2) College accommodation-based 'households' cannot support any merging of households or forming ‘support bubbles’ with individuals who live alone. This is because the higher number of individuals in college households would create a greater risk of infection transmission if every household had connections beyond their own.

Do I have to spend all my time with the people in my household?

In the current lockdown socialising outside your household is not permitted. In periods when restrictions are eased students can eat, socialise and learn with others outside their household – but with social distancing.  Social distancing will be in accordance with current University and Government guidance.

Within your household, members are free to gather, socialise within their college, if they choose. Outside of their college, members should act as individuals and practise social distancing. This will help to reduce any concerns that the local community may have upon encountering groups of students.

What if there are issues between students in a household?

Colleges are experienced in supporting students with concerns relating to their accommodation. This support will continue and extend to manage any problems that might arise due to student household arrangements. In extreme circumstances, it may be possible to move students to alternative accommodation within their college, however this will be at the discretion of individual colleges and an assessment of safety and local capacity. Students are encouraged to discuss any concerns with their college welfare officer in the first instance.

What if I want to change my household? 

We appreciate that while you are permitted to socialise outside of your household (in accordance with government and University guidelines), there may be circumstances under which changing household groups would be beneficial. Unless under exceptional circumstances (see ‘what if there are issues between students in a household), this change would likely take place at the end of term and would be at the discretion of your college.

What is the point of a household?

A household is a way to control the risk of infection if someone contracts COVID-19.  It means that you would only share close proximity, bathrooms or kitchens with a restricted and controlled group of people, and there are measures in place to alert you if someone in that group tests positive for COVID-19.  You do not have to socially distance from people in your household, but if one of you has to self-isolate, that will apply to all. 

How does self-isolating work in a household?

If any member of a household has symptoms of COVID-19, then all members of the household must self-isolate in line with NHS and government guidance. until the person with symptoms has had a test and received their results.

If the result is positive, the whole household must continue to self-isolate (go to the NHS website to find out how long to self-isolate for) in case any members are also incubating the virus.

If one member of a household is identified as being a close contact of a confirmed case (e.g. they are contacted by Test and Trace), but is asymptomatic, then only that member needs to self-isolate, and should socially distance themselves from other household members. If they go on to develop symptoms, then at that point the whole household needs to self-isolate.

Can individual students join with another household?

Members outside of your immediate household, even within your own college, should not visit your household's rooms or shared facilities. Each college will confirm whether external visitors are permitted within college grounds outdoors.

Students living on their own, in a one-person household, for example in en-suite accommodation with no shared kitchen or bathroom, may wish to join with another adjacent household. Students in this position should check with their college if this can be allowed in their circumstances.

Is it possible to visit other colleges?

Colleges may operate social distancing and other measures to allow students and others to access them in accordance with health advice. It may be possible to visit the communal areas of other Colleges but some social distancing measures and other restrictions will be in place for visitors to help protect all of Oxford's communities. Some Colleges may exclude visits for social purposes.

What support is available to me if I am living out?

College welfare support extends to all students within that college, regardless of where they live. Students will be supplied with important contact information from their college and staff will stay in touch with students living in private rented accommodation, especially with students who are unwell or self-isolating. Students in private accommodation and students in college accommodation are each considered to be in separate and distinct household groups. Separate household groups cannot merge because our populations are too high and locations densely populated. 

What happens if there is another lockdown and I need to return home? Will I be able to terminate my accommodation contract?

All the standard notice periods, deposit rules and termination arrangements usually included in your College accommodation contract will apply.  These details vary.  You will be able to change your mind but there may be notice periods; refunds of deposits or rent are not guaranteed.  Your College or accommodation provider will be able to give you more precise details of their own requirements.

Colleges will manage their accommodation and services using reasonable endeavours but following local and national guidance.  Managing safe and secure accommodation is not straightforward: changes to service levels due to outbreaks or lockdowns will not be reflected in changes in charges.

Travel and visas

Travelling to and from Oxford

If I need to travel internationally, can I use the Oxford COVID-19 test as proof that I am negative for the virus?

Regrettably, the University’s Early Alert Service cannot be used for this purpose. The University’s Early Alert Service uses NHS services and is not available for any purpose other than the testing of people with COVID-19 symptoms, or as a way of managing an outbreak. As such, it does not produce the correct certification accepted for international travel. If you need to have proof of a negative test for international travel you will need to take a test through a private provider. Please be aware that COVID-19 entry requirements vary from country to country, and individuals may wish to contact their airline or travel agent for further information before arranging a test.

Will I be tested on arrival in the UK?

You will need to have a negative test result 3 days before travelling to the UK. You will also need to pay for a further package of two test results during your 10 days isolation period. If you are from a ‘red-list’ country you will need to isolate in a Government hotel if you have a student visa that allows you to travel, those on visitor visas cannot enter the UK. For up-to-date information see the UK Government website.

Will I need to self-isolate on arrival in the UK?

The UK Government currently requires anyone arriving from overseas to self-isolate for 10 days. If you hold a student visa or other ‘residence rights’ and are from a ‘red-list’ country you will need to isolate in a Government hotel, note that visitors cannot travel to the UK from these countries. You can check the latest information on the Government website including information about the public health passenger locator form that everyone entering the UK must complete before travelling. 

You should also consider this for any future travel plans during this academic year as you will need to self-isolate again if you travel outside the UK and return again.  

For more information about self-isolation, please refer to the colleges and accommodation page.

How should I travel from the airport to Oxford as I need to self-isolate on arrival?

There are regular buses and trains from the airports and Eurostar terminal to Oxford. We have prepared a new guide to help you navigate your way to Oxford from the airports and Eurostar terminal. We have also included some tips you should read before you travel, including information about the UK laws requiring the use of face coverings in key public spaces, along with important information about a mandatory government form which needs to be completed up to 48 hours before arrival in the UK. If you use public transport, wear something that covers your nose and mouth and stay 2 metres apart from other people. If you develop coronavirus symptoms when you are travelling to the UK, you should tell one of the crew on your plane, boat, train or bus. They'll let staff in the airport, port or station know, so they can tell you what you should do next when you arrive. 

Visas

If I need to study remotely from my home country or another country, will it affect my Student visa?

Your student visa will remain valid whilst you study remotely and for your return to Oxford as long as you remain enrolled on your course. If you need to suspend your studies, see the section on travel and visas for further information.

If your visa has already been granted and you are going to come to the UK at a later date, we can help if you need to extend the 90-day travel vignette/sticker issued in our passport.

Where can I get further help for Student visas, EU Settlement Scheme or other visa queries?

The Home Office has published new guidance for Student visa holders (PDF) with the University as your sponsor and also additional information for short-term students. This covers many of the disruptions that may be caused for international students and what you should do next.

It is also taking longer than usual to process EU Settlement Scheme applications because of COVID-19. The Government has provided information on the delays and help available. If you have any further queries, please see the student visa pages and contact Student Immigration if you need help.

What type of visa should part-time offer holders apply for?

This is likely to vary depending on your course attendance pattern, as each course at Oxford can be quite different in the expectations of whether you need to be in Oxford for the entire course, or to only come for very short periods. In the first instance you should talk to the course administrator and then if necessary they may refer you to Student Immigration for further advice. 

BRPs need to be collected within 10 days of arrival, but I need to self-isolate for 10 days. What should I do?

When your Student visa is approved you will receive an initial travel vignette/sticker in your passport to come to the UK, which will be valid for 90 days. You need to travel during the period of its validity. If this is not possible contact student.immigration@admin.ox.ac.uk. The Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) is your visa for the full duration of your course. The 10 day timeframe for BRP collection has been relaxed and your BRP will be kept for you but you should aim to collect it as soon as you can (for instance after the 10 day isolation period).

My nationality means that I need to register with the Police on arrival within 7 days, but I need to self-isolate for 14 days. What should I do?

Some nationalities are required to register with the Police on arrival, see the Police Registration page for a list of nationalities. You are only required to complete the online part of Police registration within 7 days and you can do this online form whilst in quarantine. At a later date, you will also need to book an appointment with the Police but this can be done within a few months of arriving and depending on the availability of appointments. The Thames Valley Police are currently not offering any appointments during the pandemic but will contact you when the appointments become available again, if you have completed the online form that it is all you need to do for the moment. 

I am studying remotely from outside the UK. What are the implications for my health care insurance?

Students will need to consider their own health care insurance requirements to ensure they are suitably protected.

For international students

How do I extend my student visa in the UK?

You should not delay your visa application, if you need more time to complete your studies and your visa is expiring soon. See the student visa webpages for information on how to extend your visa. 

My student visa is expiring and I cannot return home because of travel restrictions. What should I do?

The Home Office has published guidance for those who cannot return home because of travel restrictions. The UKCISA website has a helpful summary of this for international students and a link to the free Home Office helpline and email address for immigration queries. If you need help contact student.immigration@admin.ox.ac.uk.

Has the Government changed the work permission for student visa holders?

If you are working for the NHS as a doctor, nurse or paramedic you can now work unlimited hours, see the updated Home Office guidance. Otherwise, your work permission remains the same. Note that if you suspend your studies your work permission usually no longer applies. For any further queries, contact Student Immigration directly.

I wish to suspend due to issues related to coronavirus. How will this affect my student visa status?

For some research students it was possible to manage a short suspension for Hilary term 2021 and keep the visa valid where remote study is not feasible. If you wish to suspend for Trinity term or future terms we may need to notify the Home Office, unless there are exceptional circumstances, and the visa would usually be cut short to two months. You can contact Student Immigration if you wish to discuss the consequences, before you make a decision.  

Ceremonies

What will happen with matriculation?

New students usually formally become members of the University through a 'matriculation' ceremony in the Sheldonian Theatre. However, this cannot take place this year due to social distancing requirements. All students will be matriculated 'in absentia' meaning it will not impact your status.

Will my degree ceremony go ahead, and what will happen if it doesn’t?

The University has taken the difficult decision to cancel degree ceremonies taking place between May 2020 and March 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic. Students who registered to attend the cancelled ceremonies in person will have a choice whether to have their degree conferred in absentia, or to attend a degree ceremony at a later date.  Given the logistical challenges involved, rescheduled degree ceremonies will have to be modified from their current form - but we will aim to keep the existing format and venues as much as possible. No decisions have yet been taken about ceremonies from May 2021 onwards. Further information will follow as soon as possible about future ceremonies.

My degree ceremony has been cancelled. Do I need to do anything?

No, not yet. Once the necessary arrangements have been made, you will have an opportunity to choose whether you have your degree conferred in absentia, or attend an alternative ceremony in the future. We will contact you as soon as you need to do anything.

If you have already registered to have your degree conferred in absentia, this process will continue as normal – so no further action is needed. If you need to have your degree conferred urgently then please contact your college to request this to be done in absentia at the next available ceremony.

I would like to attend a rearranged ceremony in the future, but I would like my degree certificate sooner. Is this possible?

No. You will not be able to receive your certificate until you have attended your degree ceremony. However, you will be able to receive an electronic degree confirmation letter, which can be ordered for no additional charge by from Degree Conferrals.

Further questions

Who should I contact if I have a question that is not answered by the information on these pages?

If you have a question that is not answered by the information on this page, please contact your college (for undergraduate students) or your department (for graduate students) in the first instance.

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