Welfare and wellbeing
Last updated: Thursday 19 March 2021
We understand that the pandemic is causing ongoing concern for many students.
University life isn’t happening in the way we had expected it, and this may be challenging or difficult for many reasons.
We empathise with the uncertainty that you face, and would like to reassure you that we are working to support your wellbeing, and offer you the best university experience that we can.
Support for you
Easter vacation (updated 5 March)
Whether you’re at home or in Oxford, help is available to support your wellbeing throughout the Easter vacation.
Many mental health services are open all year round, while others will have different opening hours or be closed on some days. There are many welfare resources available for you, all of them are free to access and available to all
You can find out more about what services are available in our Easter vacation support PDF. If you are already in college accommodation, your college welfare team may also be offering additional services.
College, University and external support
We are maintaining Oxford’s exceptional system of welfare and personal support for students this year. This includes:
- College support
Colleges act as a first port of call for student welfare concerns. Many are providing additional support in light of the ongoing pandemic, in particular for those who are self-isolation. Contact your college welfare lead for more information.
- University welfare services
All Student Welfare and Support Services are available remotely. This includes:
- The Counselling Service
- Disability Advisory Service
- Peer Support Programme (including student rainbow peers and peers of colour)
- Student Resolution Service
- Sexual Harassment and Violence Support Service
- A series of blogposts and podcasts focused on COVID-19 have also been specifically developed to support students during the pandemic.
- External support
University and college support is being supplemented with online resources. This includes:
- Togetherall: a free service for all Oxford students giving you access to a global welfare community 24/7. To join, register under "I'm from a university or college" with your Oxford e-mail address.
- Student Space: includes information and tools to help you through the challenges of the pandemic and has dedicated support services for students, by phone or text.
- The NHS's Every Mind Matters: provides free advice for looking after your mental health.
We understand that self-isolation in your Oxford accommodation can be difficult. However, your college will provide welfare support while you do this. Your tutor, course convenor or supervisor will also continue your teaching or research remotely, where practical, and if you feel fit enough to do so.
The following dedicated resources are also available:
- Tips and tricks for students in self-isolation from Oxford SU
- University advice and guidance for self-isolation
- Counselling Service advice about self-care in self-isolation
For students with mental health conditions
If you have an existing mental health condition, then we know this may be a particularly challenging time.
The following support is available to you:
- The Counselling Service website: includes a range of supportive resources and information about managing mental health conditions.
- Public health advice for supporting your mental health on the NHS website.
- A 24/7 NHS mental health helpline giving mental health advice in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire - as well as other areas.
- The Disability Advisory Support can offer help with study support for those with mental health conditions that meet the Equality Act definition of a disability.
Support for your physical health
Please refer to the keeping you safe and well page for information about information about the steps we are taking to protect your physical health.
Financial support (added 19 March)
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) 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.
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.
In addition, the University will grant all postgraduate research students an eight-week grace period before assessing liability for University Continuation Charges in Trinity term 2021, as it did in Hilary term. This will allow students to submit their thesis by Friday of 8th week (18 June 2021) instead of the normal deadline of Friday of 0th week (23 April 2021) without incurring the UCC for Trinity.
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.
Mental Health Task Force
About the Task Force
The University launched a Mental Health Task Force to consider the immediate needs of students during the COVID-19 pandemic. We know there are major mental health challenges for students caused by the pandemic, including the effect of illness, self-isolation and the restrictions brought by lockdowns and we saw an increase in demand for welfare services already both in term-time and vacation. The Task Force had representation from across the University, colleges and Oxford SU and addressed these demand on how we could reduce the impact of the pandemic on students' mental health. You can read a blog by the Chair of the Task Force on the Oxford Students website.
The Task Force built on the additional resources already provided this year as part of the Student Wellbeing and Mental Health Strategy, outlined further on this page.
Building on existing progress
The University has already significantly increased funding to Student Welfare and Support Services by £200,000 this year to increase the number of counsellors, and additional support for the Disability Advisory Service. We are also already in conversation with NHS colleagues about how to support students with serious mental health difficulties.
Aims for the Task Force
- Plan for increased demand on welfare services in the collegiate University and agree strategies for mitigating the impact of the pandemic on student mental health throughout the year.
- Make additional bids for COVID-19 related resource requirements for University welfare services.
- Plan for mental health needs of students over the vacations.
- Establish the status of NHS and local mental health services in the city and what provision will be available for students, and to share this widely with students and staff in an accessible format.
- Produce guidance for colleges and accommodation providers on how to manage complex and acute mental health problems this year.
- Agree a plan for more supervision, training and support for college welfare teams.
- Advise on the mental health impact and use of University policies including the Fitness to Study programme during the pandemic.
Planned outputs of the Task Force
- Clear information for students and welfare staff about welfare and mental health provision (University and NHS).
- Guidance for staff about how to support students with complex and acute mental health problems this year.
- A plan and bid for additional resources for Student Welfare and Support Services for 2020/21 to manage additional demand.
- Training and supervision plan for college welfare teams.