FAQs for new and returning students

Last updated: 29 November 2021

Before reading these FAQs, you should first refer to the information page for new and returning students, as the information you are looking for may already be available elsewhere on this site: 

Jump to: 

Academic impacts
Specific information for postgraduate research students
Fees and funding
Student life
Health and wellbeing
Travel and visas
Ceremonies
Further questions

Academic impacts

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 eg 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, eg 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, eg 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 (eg 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.

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 (eg 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 (eg 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 eg 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, eg 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, eg 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 (eg 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 (eg 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. This provision remains in place during the 2021-2022 academic year until further notice, due to the impact of the ongoing pandemic.

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. This provision remains in place during the 2021-2022 academic year until further notice, due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic.

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. This provision remains in place during the 2021-2022 academic year until further notice, due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic.

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 submit my thesis. What should I do?

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 2021/22. This also includes any students who were unable to submit a hardbound copy due to COVID-19 in the 2019/20 or 2020/21 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.

Further information on the position from 2022/23 onwards, and on when it will be possible to submit hard copies of restricted access theses, will be forthcoming in due course. 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.

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

In-person PGR vivas/milestone assessments (Transfer or Confirmation of Status interviews) should be conducted within government public health requirements and guidance, and University Coronavirus health and on-site working guidance, as applicable at the time of the viva/milestone assessment.

Both PGR vivas and milestone assessments can alternatively 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. 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 have been held remotely online during the Coronavirus pandemic, and there is expected to continue to be a need for at least some students/examiners/assessors to attend remotely during 2021-22. It is permissible for some attendees to be in Oxford and others to attend remotely (e.g. if an external examiner could not travel, but you and the internal examiner were in Oxford and able to meet in person).

If an in-person viva/milestone interview is not possible but 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

Is there any hardship funding available to me?

The University has set up two financial support schemes for students in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding is provided in addition to the usual financial assistance programmes which are available to students. 

Please follow these links for more information: 

  • The COVID-19 Assistance Fund (CAF) provides grants of up to £5,000 to 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.

  • The COVID-19 Scholarship Extensions Fund (CSEF) has been established to support postgraduate research students who hold university scholarships and who wish to apply for additional time to complete their programme because of COVID-19. 

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 (eg student welfare, careers support) will continue to be provided. 
 

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 has sought 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.

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 Michaelmas term if I submit my thesis after the normal deadline of Friday of 0th week?

The University granted all postgraduate research students a four-week grace period before assessing liability for University Continuation Charges in Michaelmas term 2021. This allowed students to submit their thesis by Friday of 4th week (5 November 2021) instead of the normal deadline of Friday of 0th week (8 October 2021) without incurring the UCC for that term. There are currently no plans to offer a further UCC grace period in Hilary 2022 or subsequent terms, but the position will be reviewed again in Michaelmas.
 
This grace period was automatically provided to you if you submitted your thesis by Friday of 4th 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 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.

We also encourage you to promote your events on the Love Oxford events page.

Health and wellbeing

Is there a Student Responsibility Agreement in place in the 2021/22 year?

The 2019/20 Student Responsibility Agreement (SRA) has been replaced by the University’s health and safety instructions, which all students are required to follow to reduce the risks of COVID-19 to the Oxford community. These instructions have been substantially updated to reflect the changed circumstances since the 2019/20 academic year, and replace the Student Responsibility Agreement. They will be kept under review and updated as appropriate. As before, if a student puts others at risk through serious breaches of health and safety instructions they may face disciplinary action. 

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 proof of a negative test result taken in the 3 days before travelling to the UK. See the government guidance on coronavirus testing before you travel to England for more details. Depending on whether you are coming from a green, amber or red list country you will also need additional tests after arriving, as explained on the UK Government website (see also the FAQ Is there any guidance on arranging testing for international travel? below).

If you are coming from a ‘red-list’ country you will need to quarantine in a managed hotel. You will only be allowed to enter the UK if you are a British or Irish National, or you have residence rights in the UK. For up-to-date information see the UK Government website.

Is there any guidance on arranging testing for international travel?

You are free to use any of the Government-approved providers to arrange COVID-19 testing when travelling abroad and returning to England. However, in response to feedback on various providers, the University has undertaken some due diligence checks and is able to suggest the following options. It should be noted that 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. 

In many cases a postal service may be most convenient, and Biograd Diagnostics are the suggested provider. For current pricing and to book - follow the instructions on the BioGrad Diagnostics website, or contact them by email at info@biograd.co.uk, or phone 03455 651725.  

For in-person testing in Oxford, the suggested provider is ExpressTest, who have a test centre in the Westgate Shopping Centre. For current pricing and to book - follow the instructions on the ExpressTest website, or contact them by phone on 0203 384 0000.  

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

Visas

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. 

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 quarantine for 10 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 while 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. 

For international students

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.

Ceremonies

Will my degree ceremony go ahead?

Degree ceremonies resumed in September 2021. We are working hard to accommodate as many graduands as possible to the ceremonies – whether they are current students, or those who have already left the University. There are ceremonies taking place between September and November 2021 for current students who have just completed their final year, as well as those who have already had their ceremonies postponed. Additional ceremonies will also take place from early 2022. For more information go to the Degree Ceremonies webpage.

I have already left the University, but have not yet had a degree ceremony due to the pandemic. When will I be able to attend a ceremony?

Ceremonies are taking place between September and November 2021 for students who have not yet attended a ceremony; as well as additional ceremonies expected to take place from early 2022. For more information go to the Degree Ceremonies webpage.

Graduands who need to have their degrees conferred urgently can always do so by having their names added to existing ceremonies, to attend in absentia. Please contact your college if you wish to do this.
 
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 in person or in absentia. 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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