COVID-19 Hardship Fund (CHF) | University of Oxford
Student thinking by window
Student thinking by window

Hardship funding - coronavirus

Hardship funding available to support students impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Oxford is committed to assisting students who have faced disadvantage or disruption as a result of COVID-19.

The University has launched a new COVID-19 Hardship Fund (CHF) for the 2020/21 academic year.

What is the COVID-19 Hardship Fund?

The CHF is a University-wide scheme designed to support students whose financial situation has been affected by the pandemic. The scheme is administered by your college in conjunction with their own forms of support.

The COVID-19 Hardship Fund is intended to provide grants of up to £5,000 to students whose finances have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 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. Applications to the Fund might relate to cancellation of external funding awards; significant loss of financial support from family or a partner; unplanned living costs and continuation charges for those students who need to extend their research programme, or other living or study-related costs for which funding is no longer available.

The scheme will not be able to meet all additional costs arising from COVID-19, only those necessary costs for which students are able to clearly demonstrate a genuine need. Similarly, the fund is not intended to support students whose situation has become financially unsustainable over the longer term and who would not have adequate funding in place for the remainder of their studies beyond any assistance which might be granted from the CHF (in conjunction with any other support available to them).

Who is eligible to apply?

On-course, matriculated, full- and part-time students of all fee statuses are eligible to apply for CHF support unless specifically excluded below.

The following groups are unfortunately not eligible to apply:

  1. Research students who have submitted their thesis (and those who are resubmitting).
  2. Students who are eligible to apply for a scholarship extension from the COVID-19 Scholarship Extensions Fund (CSEF). In cases where a student is only in receipt of partial scholarship funding, and where this income in conjunction with other sources results in a shortfall in their finances, an application to the CHF may be permitted. For students resident in Oxford, where projected income to cover living costs meets or exceeds the University’s lower-range estimate for Oxford living costs, any application to the CHF be expected to demonstrate a clear need for support beyond the level of funding already in place. For students who are studying remotely, individual circumstances and related living costs will be assessed accordingly.
  3. Postgraduate students, and overseas/EU undergraduate students who are not ordinarily resident in the UK, and who started their current course in the 2020/21 academic year.
  4. Students who are in financial difficulty whose funding arrangements have not been impacted directly by the COVID-19 pandemic. Such students should apply for financial assistance through the standard routes for support, including the Oxford Hardship Fund as detailed at www.ox.ac.uk/students/fees-funding/assistance/hardship. If you are uncertain which Fund is appropriate to your circumstances, please ask your College Hardship Officer for guidance.

What level of funding is available from the COVID-19 Hardship Fund?

Grants of up to £5,000 are available. To ensure funding is granted to the students with the greatest need, your application will be assessed on an individual basis, taking into account your personal circumstances and financial position. 

Need will be assessed in terms of financial shortfall (that is, you will need to demonstrate that you have insufficient funds to meet necessary expenditure related to your course and reasonable living costs for the applicable period of study). Evidence of additional costs or loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic is not sufficient on its own. Awards will only be granted in cases where financial shortfall can be identified relating to the academic year 20/21. The fund is not intended as a source of funding to replace long-term shortfalls or to meet all additional costs arising from the current situation.

How do I apply?

Applications are being accepted from Monday 5 October 2020 (0th week, Michaelmas term) until Friday 4 June 2021 (6th week, Trinity term) and your college will provide further information about their assessment process. You can obtain an application form for the COVID-19 Hardship Fund through your College Hardship Officer.

We understand that disclosing financial hardship and sharing challenging circumstances may feel difficult. Your College Hardship Officer is available to support you, and full guidance will be provide to you along with the application form. The form also provides an opportunity for you to explain your situation in your own words.

How will my application be assessed?

Applications will be assessed by staff in your college. Decisions will take into account your current situation, including the need you have described, your overall financial position, and the amount you have requested, as well as the demands on the fund. The basis for a CHF award is as follows:

  • your finances have been clearly impacted by COVID-19 specifically
  • a financial shortfall can be identified
  • you have demonstrated that you have first explored all other forms of funding, and accessed these where applicable
  • you have projected reasonable living costs for your circumstances
  • you have requested an appropriate level of assistance for your situation
  • the sustainability of your finances can be established (except in the case of first degree UK undergraduates for whom additional forms of support are available)

This is to ensure all students are assessed fairly and to assist those in greatest financial need.

For self-funded or partially-funded PGR students whose studies have been extended and who are applying for support in meeting additional living costs and continuation charges, the college may consult with your department to confirm additional information regarding the progress of your studies. This will assist your college in verifying whether funding requested through CHF will be sufficient to enable you to submit within your revised timeframe.
Applications will be treated in the strictest confidence subject to the University’s GDPR Policy as detailed in the application form declaration page and subject to your college’s GDPR policy.

What costs are included in the CHF assessment?

We understand that you may be facing a range of unexpected costs and changes in income as a result of the pandemic, and that there be other factors which have compounded your financial difficulties, but which are not directly attributable to the pandemic. This might include unexpected increases in accommodation costs, study-related costs, or other personal costs.

Students are advised to complete the income and expenditure sections as comprehensively as possible in order to enable a full assessment of your financial situation to be carried out. This is to ensure that the support that you receive is based on your essential expenditure and expected income; students should be reassured that no judgements are being made on the types of costs incurred.

Please note that students living in University Graduate Accommodation whose finances have been affected by the pandemic and who have also become liable for Council Tax since Oxford City Council’s removal of an exemption earlier in 2020 should include these unexpected costs in their application.

If you are experiencing hardship which pre-dates the pandemic or is related to other factors besides Covid-19, then you should discuss with your College Hardship Officer whether an application to the Oxford Hardship Fund may be more appropriate before proceeding with a CHF application.

What supporting documentation do I need to provide?

You will be required to provide electronic copies of documentation confirming your accommodation costs (where you are not living in college accommodation), and provide any available evidence of additional costs incurred as result of the pandemic, as well as any documentation relating to the outcome of insurance claims or other funding requests, where available and applicable. Your college may ask you to verify information on your application form by providing supplementary documentation after they have reviewed your initial application.

What other information is available?

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

For more general advice about coronavirus and its impacts on current Oxford students please refer to the student coronavirus advice information pages.

Was this page useful?*