Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice and support for students | University of Oxford

Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice and support for students

Introduction

This provides a range of information and advice for current Oxford students related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It will be updated on a regular basis. Please use the tabs to find detailed information.

Additional information about the University's wider response can be found on the main University coronavirus advice page.

If you are an applicant or an offer holder, please refer to the dedicated page for applicants and offer holders.

Teaching and learning

What is happening to teaching in Trinity term?

Undergraduate and postgraduate taught (PGT) students will engage remotely with familiar modes of teaching, provided by academic departments (e.g. lectures, seminars, classes) and their colleges (e.g. tutorials). Remote access to materials and teachers will be through familiar channels, such as Canvas, WebLearn and Moodle.

Postgraduate research (PGR) students will maintain contact with academics through digital communication tools, which already being used by their supervisors. Where none exist, staff and students will be directed to MS Teams.

It is possible that some postgraduate research students who are currently living in Oxford may be able to return to labs and research facilities as and when they reopen later in Trinity term as part of the University’s plans for returning to onsite working. Further information will follow from departments as any restrictions are lifted.

While migrating to remote teaching and assessment in Trinity term 2020, the University aims to offer an educational engagement and value to all students, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, full time or part time, that is as close as possible to that delivered normally. The Expectations for teaching and assessment in Trinity term document sets out the expectations of departments, faculties and colleges in delivering alternative provision during this exceptional period. 

I am a taught postgraduate student. How will Trinity term fieldwork and projects be affected?

Unfortunately you will not be able to undertake fieldwork or laboratory based projects that may have been planned for Trinity term. The same may apply to some other types of project, such as those that require access to materials that are only available in hard-copy archives.

We recognise that some students may already have started a project that cannot now be completed, and that the scope will need to be dramatically altered. If this change affects you, you should consult your supervisor and/or the course director in your department or faculty to agree an alternative project that can be completed from your desk (such as literature reviews, data analysis or computer modelling).

We understand how disappointing this will be for many students, and would like to reassure you that academic staff are committed to giving you the best experience they can in the current circumstances. We will of course make appropriate adjustments to assessment criteria to account for the disruption caused. An exception may be made for students who are already well into their fieldwork, are currently overseas, and if they are likely to put themselves at higher risk returning to the UK than carrying on where they are. If you think this applies to you, please discuss with your course director as a matter of urgency.

Where laboratory work or fieldwork constitutes a competency standard for the programme cohort-wide extensions will be granted in the first instance. If the current situation continues, this position may need to be reviewed at a later date.

What do I need to do to prepare for remote learning?

There are some key adjustments you can make and, importantly, many of these changes will help with your wellbeing. Find out more on the adapting to remote learning webpage.

How do I get the right technology set up at home for remote learning? 

There is information about guidance and support you can access for IT equipment, internet connection, keeping secure, and more, here.

What if I don’t have the right set-up for studying at home?

We understand that some of you will have concerns that you do not have access to technology or suitable working environment, and we aim to support you as much as we can. All students were invited to complete a self-assessment about their home arrangements during the Easter Vacation. The University and Colleges are now analysing this feedback, and further information will follow about support that might be made available if you raised concerns about your individual circumstances. 

When will libraries be available to me?

Following the University’s overall intention, we are working to have as full a Library service as possible ready for Michaelmas Term 2020, with our libraries, collections and services as open as they can reasonably be, with social distancing in place.

A wide range of resources remain available online, please visit Bodleian Online or contact your relevant subject library for more information about other digital resources that are available.

What services can I use?

The Bodleian continues to provide a wide range of digital resources for students, including e-books and e-journals, that readers can access. A full list is available on the Bodleian Library website. Digital resources, including the e-book collection, are being constantly expanded; this includes the resumption of the Scan and Deliver service in late June, and a new Click and Collect process launching in July to allow for socially distanced borrowing. Beginning on 15 June, the Bodleian Libraries will gain access to the HathiTrust Digital Library providing access to over 1.5 million eBooks as part of their Emergency Temporary Access Service.

What should I do if I have books to return?

The Bodleian Libraries will automatically extend any Bodleian Libraries items on loan until week commencing 12 October 2020. Fines will continue to be waived for all items. If you have items on loan and would like to return them before then, we will be providing information on the loans return process over the coming days.

Exams and assessments

For all students

What are the plans for exams and assessments in Trinity term?

There will be no conventional exams in Trinity Term. The arrangements will be as follows:

The majority of examinations for first year undergraduates will be cancelled, and students will be deemed to have passed. The only exceptions are Law and Medicine, where assessments will be rearranged for professional qualification reasons

  • For all second and third year (non-finalist) undergraduates, and first year MPhils will be deferred into the next academic year. The only exceptions are those third-year undergraduate exams which need to go ahead because they are taken by a mix of continuing and leaving students.   
  • Final-year undergraduates and taught postgraduate exams will be replaced with alternative forms of assessment in Trinity term 2020. These will take the form of either open-book versions of papers, longer pieces of work completed over several days, or a mix of the two

Further detail is provided below.

Why is the University adopting this approach?

The approach we have developed resulted from consultation with staff and students. It is aimed at supporting students as much as possible taking into account individual circumstances, whilst mitigating the impact of the pandemic much as much as we can. We have strived to develop a workable solution – to reduce complexity, minimise disruption, and provide an equitable approach for all candidates. To do this we have taken a decision to focus on completion help for as many students as possible to complete their degrees with the outcomes they deserve and move on to the next stages of their lives and careers. This will mean the University can offer the best possible education for current students and future students in the next academic year

Where can I find details about my specific course?

Departments and faculties contacted all students in early April to provide a clear outline of the assessment approach for each subject. Detailed information on open-book exams can be found online.

Will projects and dissertations be affected?

Projects and dissertations will largely proceed as planned. However, deadlines may be extended to account for the disruption that the pandemic has caused. Factors such as lost lab work, fieldwork, and reduced archive access will be fully taken into account by examiners.

Can I suspend my status and restart in the next academic year?

No. All students will be expected to complete the academic year in line with the approach outlined. If you are a finalist and believe you have exceptional reasons which prevent you from completing teaching and/or assessments, please see the finalists section below.

Suspensions will only be approved if you cannot complete your studies this academic year. This might be as a result of prolonged ill health, increased caring responsibilities or, for part-time students, increased professional workload. Personal preference relating to type of assessment or desire to complete laboratory work, fieldwork or projects will not be considered an adequate reason for suspension. For further details on laboratory work, fieldwork and projects, please see the teaching and learning section above.

An exception may be made for students with a background in health and social care, who wish to return to work to help with the COVID-19 response.

Will I be able to submit a mitigating circumstances application?

It will be possible to submit a Mitigating Circumstances Notice (MCE). The process has been adjusted this term in order to directly take into consideration and acknowledge the impact COVID-19 has had on your coursework submission and examinations, alongside any other individual circumstances you believe may have impacted on your performance. The form should only be submitted once you have completed ALL of your assessments (including dissertations). A self-assessment mitigating circumstances form has been created alongside guidance on mitigating circumstances.  

Should I keep a record of the impact of COVID-19 on my studies?

It is possible that students on longer or part-time courses may not feel the full effects of the current situation until later in their programme of study. If you are encountering particular difficulties at the current time (e.g. illness, increased caring responsibilities, etc.) which are having some impact on your ability to study, it is recommended that you keep a detailed note or log of your circumstances. These notes will be helpful if you need to request an extension or other dispensation in the future or wish to make the exam board aware of particular issues you have had in completing assessment. Your department can advise on the type and format of information that is likely to be useful.

Taught postgraduate students can also include information in the termly supervision reports. These provide you with the opportunity to review and comment on your academic progress during the current reporting period, to measure progress against the requirements and agreed timetable for your programme of study, and to raise any concerns or issues regarding your academic progress.

If your progress has been affected by Coronavirus, in addition to keeping a running log of the impact using any templates provided by your department or division, you are also strongly encouraged to record any issues in your supervision report, to ensure that your supervisor and/or Course Director/Director of Graduate Studies are aware, and so they can respond and provide additional advice where appropriate. You may also then wish to refer back to your supervision reports in future terms if you need to apply for adjustments to your studies at a later date.

I am due to return in Trinity term 2020 to take a resit. Can I still return?

Yes. If the paper you are resitting is being offered this year, you will take the assessment as normal with the rest of the cohort. This means that if the assessment has been modified (e.g. written examination turned into an open book examination), your resit will be in the modified format.

If the paper you are resitting is not being offered this year (i.e. paper has been cancelled for the rest of the cohort), you will still have to resit the assessment in order to progress or complete your programme. You will have to take the resit at the next available opportunity – further details about when the next opportunity will take place will be available from your department or faculty.

If I fail an assessment in Trinity term 2020, how will the resit be assessed?

Resit assessments will cover the same material and be in the same format as the assessment in Trinity term 2020. This means that if your assessment has been modified (e.g. written examination turned into an open book examination), your resit will be in the modified format. The only exception is if a programme already explicitly states in the special regulations that a resit may take a different format.

First year undergraduates

How will I be assessed if I am not taking exams? 

All students will be deemed to have passed the year. Your department or faculty will let you know if there are any coursework elements of assessment that they still want you to submit, but in most cases these will be simply records of lab classes already completed. Instead of formal exams, you will be supported to consolidate your first year learning in other ways, including informal assessments to give you feedback on your progress to date. Details will follow in the near future from faculties and departments about this.  

My course includes a professional qualification. Will I still have exams, and when will they take place? 

This only applies to first year exams in Law and Medicine. We are now working through the details, and your department or faculty will be in touch to confirm the arrangements as soon as they are known.

Second and third year (non-finalist) undergraduates and first year MPhil  

If my exam is deferred into the next academic year, when will it take place? 

We hope to hold these in October, with the remainder of next academic year adjusted around them. However, we have to retain some flexibility at this stage because of the uncertainty over the development of the pandemic. We will confirm the new dates as soon as it is possible to do so.  

Final year undergraduates and taught postgraduates  

How will open-book exams work, and what can I best do to prepare?

Advice and a candidate guide is now available on the open-book exams page on the Oxford Students website. All students taking open-book exams should read this. It includes technical information about how exams will run, tips to prepare and an overview of what will happen on the day of your exam.

How have decisions been taken about the forms of assessment that will be offered to different groups of students?

Decisions have been taken by department/faculty subject experts who are best placed to decide how to test courses’ learning outcomes through remote assessment methods - following expert technical advice on the options available. Departments and faculties have carefully considered the merits of this for open-book exams, as well as longer pieces of assessed work for their subject matter, taking student opinion into account.

Will the exam timetable be amended?

The exam timetable is being updated as usual on the Exam Timetables page. Most exams in Week 0 were delayed to give students and staff time to prepare. There were a small number of pilots in Week 0, and most exams started from Week 2. Some other adjustments have been made, for instance to ensure no student has two exams on a single day. If you will be sitting open-book exams in Trinity Term 2020, you will have received an email confirming your new timetable and this will also be accessible through Student Self Service. As usual, you will also receive email reminders ahead of each exam.

I am worried about being able to take part in open book exams (for example, because I don’t have an appropriate workspace, or I cannot access the necessary technology). What should I do?

We understand that this is a concern for some students. You should now have had the opportunity complete a self-assessment about your home arrangements, and your college or department/faculty will contact you if you have specific needs. We aim to put in measures to support you as much as we can. 

Can I travel to Oxford to take remote exams?

The UK Government has now advised that any students remaining at University should now stay where they are and not attempt to travel. And if you have already left, you should not return to Oxford until further notice. This means you will need to carry out remote exams in the area you are currently located in. We will keep this situation under review as the Government’s policy evolves.

How will you deter cheating?

When you take an exam, you will be required to sign up to the University’s new honour code. This will confirm that you have understood and abided by the university’s rules on plagiarism and collusion. We will be making extensive use of plagiarism checkers, as we already do for submitted work, and we reserve the right to conduct follow-up viva voce exams to check candidates’ understanding of the examined material, even where these are not currently specified in the Examination Regulations. We are also depending on students’ integrity. We regard integrity and honesty as being central to the ethos of the University, and among the qualities of our students we value most highly. You will be expected to apply this to open-book exams.

Will any other measures be put in place to recognise the disruption that has been caused?

Yes. The University has now published a safety net policy, which aims to reduce the risk of students being disadvantaged by coronavirus. If after exploring all the options you are unable to complete exams remotely because of illness or very difficult personal circumstances, you will have a number of options available to you, including graduating with “Declared to Deserve Honours” or “Declared to Deserve Masters” awards, or returning to Oxford to sit written exams in Trinity term 2021. For more information about these options, see ‘academic impacts’ section below.

Academic impacts

My studies have been impacted by coronavirus. What should I do?

You should continue to go through the usual University and college routes for requests such as extensions and dispensations. The mitigating circumstances (MCE) process has been adjusted this term in order to directly take into consideration and acknowledge the impact coronavirus has had on your coursework submission and examinations, alongside any other individual circumstances you believe may have impacted on your performance. A self-assessment mitigating circumstances form has been created alongside guidance on how to complete the form.

What is the self-certification process if I have been affected by coronavirus?

The Proctors and Education Committee have introduced a self-certification process for the remainder of this academic year for those students who have been ill and/or affected by the coronavirus. If you have been affected directly or indirectly by coronavirus, you can self-certify for up to 14 days. For other short-term illnesses (such as migraine, norovirus, gastroenteritis, flu, or diarrhoea), you will be able to self-certify for up to 7 days. Please complete the self-certification form directly and the Proctors will consider and respond within 5 working days. The outcome will be provided to yourself, your college and your department. If you require a further extension, you will be able to submit a self-certification for the same submission for up to a maximum of 21 days (including the initial request). If you require an extension beyond 21 days please see “What happens if I need an extension for longer than 21 days?” (below).

What happens if I need an extension for longer than 21 days?

Please still complete the self-certification form. As part of the form there are two questions which will help the Proctors determine the next steps, “how far have you progressed with your submission” and “do you think you will be able to complete you submission within your requested extension time”. The Proctors will then contact the Chair of Examiners to discuss what the options available for you are. The outcome will be provided to yourself, your college and your department.

What should I do if I am unable to obtain medical evidence for an extension request?

A ‘self-certification process’ has been put in for the remainder of this academic year for students affected by the coronavirus or by a short-term illness. If you have been affected directly or indirectly by coronavirus, you can self-certify for up to 14 days. For other short-term illnesses (such as migraine, norovirus, gastroenteritis, flu, or diarrhoea), you will be able to self-certify for up to seven days. Please complete the self-certification form yourself. The Proctors will then consider the case and inform you, your college and your department of the outcome. 

For final year undergraduates and taught postgraduates  

What is the ‘safety net’ and why has it been put in place?  

The safety net policy aims to reduce the risk of students being disadvantaged by coronavirus. The policy applies to subjects where remote assessments take place in Trinity term (either open-book exams or longer pieces of assessed work). It is designed to ensure students can be assessed in rigorous way while taking into account Oxford’s diverse assessment arrangements, and the impact of the pandemic. So long as students pass the assessment, the following will apply:  

  • If the student had already completed more than 50 per cent of their assessed work up to the end of Hilary term 2020, assessments in Trinity term will only count towards their degree classification if it improves the overall result.
  • Where less than 50 per cent of assessed work has been completed to the end of Hilary term 2020, subjects will make other adjustments where they benefit the student, such as increased weighting of earlier work or discounting of lowest marks (in these instances, the exact formulation will be chosen by specific subjects).

Further detail about the policy and how it will be applied to individual courses has been provided by departments and faculties.  

What are my options if I can’t take my assessments?  

If after exploring all the options you are unable to complete exams remotely because of illness or very difficult personal circumstances, you may be eligible to opt for:  

- exit with a classified degree

– if you have completed some summative assessment the examination board would look to see whether enough had been completed so that a classified degree could still be awarded.  

- Suspension - so you can return to complete your assessment in the next academic year  

- exit with an unclassified degree and be Declared to have Deserved Honours (DDH) (if undergraduate) or Declared to have Deserved Masters/Postgraduate Diploma/Certificate (DDM) (depending upon the degree you were enrolled on).  

Further information about DDH and DDM can be found below, and on the dedicated declared awards page, and if you are unsure what to do, you should speak to your college or department in the first instance.  

What are Declared to have Deserved Honours’ (DDH) and ‘Declared to have Deserved Masters’ (DDM) awards?  

A Declared to have Deserved Honours Degree is an unclassified undergraduate degree. A Declared to have Deserved Foundation Certificate/Undergraduate Certificate/Diploma/Advanced Diploma have been introduced this year and are also available. These are collectively referred to as DDH. It will be awarded when a student has been unable to complete their summative assessments for legitimate reasons, and the examination board is satisfied that they would have been likely to have obtained an Honours degree (or a pass degree for other awards) had they been able to complete their assessments.  

The postgraduate equivalent is a Declared to have Deserved Masters (DDM) degree, or a Declared to have Deserved Postgraduate Diploma/Certificate, depending upon the award that the student was enrolled upon. The University has introduced these for the 2019/20 academic year in response to the coronavirus pandemic. As with the DDH, these are unclassified degrees and will be awarded when students are unable to complete their summative assessments.  

While the formal awards will be unclassified, transcripts will be adapted to explain the unusual pandemic circumstances behind them, and will be accompanied by an enhanced reference letter indicating the class of degree the student was expected to achieve, as far as this can be determined by the available evidence. Further information about these transcripts will follow in the near future.  

Please refer to the dedicated declared awards page for detailed information about DDH and DDM.  

Why is the second sitting opportunity in Trinity term 2021?  

There is ongoing uncertainty about when the impact of the pandemic will diminish, making it difficult to plan for exam sittings before the start of the 2020/21 academic year. In addition, holding large numbers of exams ahead of the next academic year is likely to have significant consequences for staff and students (current and future) in 2020/21. Scheduling alternative sittings for Trinity term 2021 was felt to be the most appropriate solution for all parties.  

For postgraduate research students

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

We know that research may be being disrupted because, for example, students do not have 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 from home, 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 to enable you to work remotely. We know that it will not always be possible to adjust your project, but if it is possible, even to a limited extent and for a short period, you should aim to do so.

You should 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.

We have now 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.

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.

I need to submit my DPhil thesis. What should I do?

The general requirements for submission of research degree theses for examination remain the same. All research students submitting for the first time are required to submit their thesis electronically through RTDS. Students submitting a thesis following major corrections should also submit through RTDS. The requirement to submit a hardbound copy of your DPhil thesis to the Exam Schools in order to graduate following being granted leave to supplicate has been temporarily suspended for the remainder of the academic year. However, to graduate at a degree ceremony you will still 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 should then plan to submit a hardbound copy to the Exam Schools between January and March 2021.

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, as long as (a) Coronavirus restrictions are the reason for the request; (b) you agree in writing to the arrangements; and (c) the remote viva complies with the ‘Protocols for VoIP use in PGR examination vivas’ document available at https://academic.admin.ox.ac.uk/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).

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 remotely, 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. 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.

Information about graduate funding will be provided in due course. Tier 4 visa holders should see the separate section below about visas.

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

What will happen to student rents? Will they be waived if I am not in residence?

If you have a licence or tenancy agreement for University or College accommodation this term but are not in residence, you will not be charged rent. You may need to inform the University or your College that you wish to cancel your agreement; they will tell you how to do this.

If you are staying in Oxford, or if government policy changes and you return to University or College accommodation, you will be charged rent in the usual way.

For students in private rented accommodation, the University and Colleges have no control over the arrangements, and students are likely to still be liable for the rest of the year to their landlords. Oxford SU provides signposting for advice on its website or by email at advice@oxfordsu.ox.ac.uk. Any students in financial distress should apply for support through the usual channels.

The University and each College will be communicating with its own student tenants to let them know how this will be managed locally.

For further assistance, if you live in College, please contact your own college for advice, and if you live in University accommodation, contact the Graduate Accommodation Office.

What is going to happen with course fees?

We are focusing on supporting students and delivering our programmes of study within the constraints of current circumstances. Whilst we appreciate that this will mean that they are not delivered in the same manner as previous years, we still intend to ensure 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.

For those postgraduate students whose work is substantially disrupted (particularly because of closed labs or the inability to do fieldwork) we are working case by case on practical adjustments, often including, where necessary, suspension of studies and/or extensions of relevant deadlines. Work is ongoing to look at the impact of current disruption to see what else may be done in these cases.

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.

Will I still receive my Oxford Bursary/Crankstart Bursary payment as normal?

Your bursary will not be affected by the move to online teaching and learning. As long as you are enrolled on your course and continue to meet other bursary eligibility criteria you will be assessed to receive a bursary from Oxford as normal. If eligible, you will be contacted to confirm the level of your entitlement for the 2020/21 academic year before the start of Michaelmas term.

I receive a Scholarship from the University (paid by Student Fees & Funding, a Division or Department), will this continue if I am studying remotely?

Scholarship holders will continue to receive their scholarship while they remain on course and are within the period of study specified in their scholarship award letter. Scholars should ensure they complete the normal registration steps promptly at the start of the new academic year. During the period in which residency requirements have been waived, this will be regardless of where they are undertaking their study.

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

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has published guidance for PhD students that it supports. If you are a postgraduate student with a Research Council studentship, we encourage you to review this information. It should be read in conjunction with other FAQs available on this page about what to do in the event that your research has been disrupted because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The University has announced that it will provide funding extensions to students in cases where they have been clearly impacted by the ongoing pandemic. Specifically, the University will underwrite co-funded extensions for UKRI and Wellcome Trust funded students currently in their final year of funding, and will do the same for students in the final year of Oxford-funded schemes including Clarendon. Funding extensions for students in their penultimate year of funding will be reviewed at a later date, in line with UKRI’s developing plans.  More information about the process for seeking a funding extension will be made available in early July.

Other students, including those who are currently self-funding their studies, will be eligible for a new hardship scheme for the 2020/21 academic year, with specific provision made for the needs of PGR students. Further details about this will be published over the Long Vacation.

Meanwhile if COVID-19 has disrupted your progress, you should continue to discuss adjustments to your research plans with your supervisor and department.

Is there any hardship funding I can apply for due to the effects of coronavirus?

A new hardship scheme is currently being developed for students whose finances have been impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak beyond Trinity term 2020, and this will be launched for the 2020/21 academic year. Further information will be included on this webpage and on the dedicated coronavirus hardship funding webpage in due course. Students who are in urgent financial difficulty during the Long Vacation are advised to contact their college hardship officer for further guidance. 

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. 

Travel, and returning to Oxford

Can I come and collect my belongings?

The UK Government has now confirmed that students are able to return to universities to collect their personal belongings. However it is important that is carried out in a managed way to ensure we can maintain social distancing and keep staff and students safe. Your college (or Graduate Accommodation Office if you are in University graduate accommodation) will be in touch with you to arrange the logistics of getting your possessions back. It is important that you do not attempt to return to collect your possessions outside of the specific arrangements put in place by the University or your College. If you are outside the UK, your College or the Graduate Accommodation Office will be in touch to explain the options available to you. If you are in private rented accommodation you should liaise with your landlord or estate agent about collecting your belongings.

Should I be in Oxford and when will I be able to return if I'm not?

The Government has advised that any students remaining at University are permitted to return to their family home. For students who opt to remain in Oxford, Colleges will continue to run a reduced service in order to comply with government rules on social distancing and health and safety of their staff. Colleges remain committed to supporting students in residence to the best of their ability. Your college will advise you on the services they are able to provide at this difficult time. It is important that you respect the rules on social distancing for students still resident in college.

If you have already left to go home, you should not return to Oxford until further notice. The only exception to this is clinical medical students who may now travel back to Oxford to complete their placements as they are now classed as essential workers. 

Please see the ‘Travel and visas’ section of this page for information about collecting your belongings from University accommodation. 

All teaching, learning and assessment for taught courses will be conducted remotely for the duration of Trinity term, including for those students still in residence in Oxford. 

It is possible that some postgraduate research students who are currently living in Oxford may be able to return to labs  and research facilities as and when they reopen later in Trinity term as part of the University’s plans for returning to onsite working. Further information will follow from departments as any restrictions are lifted. 

If you are on a year abroad or work placement, please see the relevant section below.

For postgraduate research students

I am a PGR student and my department is reopening. Can I return to continue my research?

You may be able to return if your department is re-opening your particular workspace under the Return to On-site Working programme. At the current time this programme is focused on the reopening of experimental laboratory buildings You should discuss whether returning may be possible with your supervisor in the first instance. Please note that this option can only be offered to students in departments where the relevant buildings are re-opening, and is subject to the University being able to offer a safe working environment that is compliant with government guidance. Your return will be subject to agreement with your Head of Department and/or Director of Graduate Studies. Your college will be notified once this has been agreed.

We only expect a comparatively small number of our total PGR student body to be involved during Trinity term and over the summer where they can safely work within those buildings that are opening. Additional buildings will be reopening in stages over the next few weeks and months and information about that will be shared as soon as it is available.

How will I know if and when my department is opening?

Your Head of Department will announce that a building in their department is opening or planning to open. Please note that in some cases it is only sub-departments or specific buildings that are opening for now and, in others, some facilities have been repurposed, for example for Covid-19 related research. Even when your building is opening, departments will need to ensure that safe working and social distancing measures are maintained and this means that not everyone will be able to return immediately.

My department is not opening its buildings just yet, can I return anyway?

No. Government guidance permits students to move residence (including private accommodation) if they need to do so in order to prepare for the next academic year. Please note that, by law, our libraries remain closed to readers (although some library buildings are re-opening to library staff to provide additional remote services). Our colleges will only accommodate students whose return has been agreed by their Head of Department and/or Director of Graduate Studies in line with our Return to On-site working programme. Unless you fall into one of the above categories we ask that you do not travel to Oxford at this time.

Can I take the decision not to return if I have been asked to do so by my supervisor? 

You should only return if you feel comfortable doing so. You are under no obligation to do so and will not be subject to any academic penalty if you decide not to return at this point.

I am not in Oxford and have been asked to return by my Department. Am I able to do so?

Yes, provided that the rules where you currently live will allow you to travel to Oxford, your Head of Department and/or Director of Graduate Studies have agreed to your return as outlined above and you have accommodation arranged. You may return to either private accommodation or to your college, depending upon what you have arranged. The Head of Department and/or Director of Graduate Studies will inform your college that your return has been agreed. If you are travelling from outside the UK, you will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. Please see the section below on overseas students and self-isolation. 

I live overseas and have been asked to return. Do I need to self-isolate, and what do I do about accommodation?

The UK Government currently requires anyone arriving from overseas to self-isolate for 14 days. If you live in private accommodation, you should return to that accommodation and follow government guidance. If you need any welfare support, you should contact your college. If you usually live in a college (or in University graduate accommodation), you should contact your college (or the Graduate Accommodation Office) and arrange to return to your room and self-isolate there. If you don't have any accommodation in place, you should contact your college, and they will endeavour to make accommodation available to you at the usual rates. It is important that you have your accommodation in place before you book your travel and that your return has been agreed by your Head of Department and/or Director of Graduate Studies.

Having read the guidance, I believe I may be able to return to study in Oxford. What do I need to do next?

1. The first step is to ask your supervisor whether or not you are able to return.

2. If your supervisor agrees you can return, your supervisor will clear this with your head of department.

3. If your head of department is content, you will need suitable accommodation. If you have private rented accommodation that is available for you to use, you can return (travelling in accordance with govt guidance). If you require college accommodation, your department will inform your college that you can return and ask if they have accommodation available. Upon receipt of this request your college will inform you where you will be accommodated. It will be either in your college, or where that is not possible for COVID reasons, in another college.

Degree ceremonies

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 and November 2020 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 December 2020 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 clicking here

Clubs and societies

I am running an event or conference. What should I do?

The UK has restricted public gatherings, with forthcoming events to be rescheduled or hosted virtually. 

Work is ongoing to see how our events and initiatives can be delivered differently and innovatively. For events scheduled for the summer or beyond, you should be contingency planning as it is currently unclear how long these measures will be in place.

Decisions about whether to proceed with events outside the UK should be based on local health advice. Further guidance for event managers is now available (single sign-on required).

Michaelmas term 2020

Oxford University and its Colleges plan to open to students at all levels for the 2020/21 academic year and we look forward to welcoming all new and continuing students from the start of the Michaelmas term.

The health and safety of our students and staff is our number one priority. We will have a range of measures in place including a dedicated testing service, support for students needing to self-isolate, and clear guidance informed by scientific advice.

Our education will be built around Oxford’s distinctive focus on in-person, small-group teaching in line with government guidance, laboratory practical work and supervision, with access to world-class facilities and resources, supplemented by high quality digital materials. We will work flexibly to maintain suitable levels of contact time for students.

Colleges are at the heart of the Oxford experience. We are pleased to be able to confirm that all our colleges will be open, with accommodation available for students.

We are committed to supporting our students’ wellbeing, and will take active steps to ensure all students can access Oxford’s enriching opportunities regardless of their personal backgrounds or circumstances.

We will provide more detailed information about the arrangements for students as soon as it is possible to do so.

What is the University’s plans for 2020/21 academic year?

Teaching and learning

Focus on face-to-face, small-group teaching

We are committed to maintaining our focus on personalised teaching and supervision, with a strong focus on tutorials and other types of small-group learning such as masters’ seminar groups. We plan to increase our emphasis on personalised support. Larger group teaching, lectures and most exams will be offered online at least for the first term.

Digital support

In-person activities will be supplemented by engaging online activities that draw on the rich resources available through our colleges, libraries and collections. The University’s virtual learning environment Canvas@Oxford will be universally available – acting as a single-entry point for most students.

World-class facilities and resources

Laboratories and research facilities will be available to students - although they will operate at reduced capacity, for the safety of our students and staff. We expect libraries and collections to be open – supplemented by digital resources.

Flexibility

We will work flexibly to try to ensure students get suitable levels of contact time. For example, start and finish times may be staggered to optimise the use of space, and term dates may be slightly extended in some cases. Should government restrictions or local health and safety circumstances change, the University and colleges will adapt and be prepared to switch to remote teaching if necessary.

College life

Colleges are at the heart of the Oxford experience. We are pleased to be able to confirm that all our colleges will be open from the start of the academic year, and that they will have accommodation available for students.

We are currently reviewing different aspects of college life, such as bars, dining halls and common rooms, as we aim to offer as full a social experience as possible for our students. Services will only be reopened in line with government guidance and health advice.

Keeping our students and staff safe and well

The health and safety of our students and staff is our highest priority.

We are now working on detailed plans for measures we will put in place to minimise the risks to staff and students. These will include:

- A University testing service that will be open to all staff and students

- Support for students who need to self-isolate

- Effective and consistent use of face coverings and other hygiene measures

- Arrangements to maintain social distancing in teaching and research spaces

We are committed to setting out clear guidance for students about what is expected of them to protect themselves and others, and what they can expect from the University. We will also put measures in place to support vulnerable students and staff, with online teaching and learning available for those who feel they are unable to take part in in-person teaching.

The University’s measures are informed by an expert advisory group made of Oxford clinical academics, as well as government guidance. We will follow UK government advice, and make detailed contingency plans in case additional measures are required.

Travel

We hope all students will be able to come to live and study in Oxford from the start of the next academic year. We recognise that arriving for the start of Michaelmas (autumn) term may not be possible for some students, for example if they are unable to travel, or need to self-isolate. In those cases they will have access to online resources and support. However, we expect that all students will be in residence by January 2021. If international students are required to self-isolate on arriving or returning to the UK, we will support them doing so.

Support for students

We recognise that these are unsettling times, and are committed to supporting the wellbeing of all students – regardless of their backgrounds, or any disadvantage or disruption they may have faced as a result of Covid-19. We will maintain Oxford’s exceptional system of personal support for students, whether face to face or online.

We are also striving to preserve Oxford’s student life despite the pandemic, and will be working with student representative groups to maintain the supportive and enriching environment that contributes to the Oxford experience. For example, Oxford’s students’ union, Oxford SU, is planning a virtual version of its Freshers’ Fair, giving new and returning students the chance to engage in their wider student community, and find out about the wide range of clubs and societies and local organisations that support students.

Further information

Due to the nature of the ongoing pandemic, it is not possible to provide all the details of the arrangements for the new academic year at this stage. However, we are committed to providing more detailed information as soon as it is possible to do so.

We will provide regular updates in the weeks ahead in line with government guidance and health advice.

As usual, colleges (for undergraduates) or departments (for graduate students) are the best first point of contact for any queries that students may have.

Teaching, learning and assessments

When will I find out the details of how my course will be delivered?

Departments and faculties are now carrying out detailed planning in preparation for the start of term. They will provide more information direct to you in the coming weeks – in line with the latest government advice.

My course isn’t on Canvas yet. Will it be available to me next year?

We are working hard over the Long Vacation to move the remaining programmes of study onto Canvas. By the start of term only a handful of programmes will have content remaining on WebLearn and other virtual learning environments. You can check the details for each course on the Canvas@Oxford webpage. Your department will confirm to you at the start of the academic year where you should go to find your course information and teaching materials.

How will exams be managed in the next academic year?

For at least the first term of the next academic year, the majority of exams will be held online as open-book exams. A small number of exams may be held in a traditional in-person format, particularly if the subject matter or accreditation body of the exam requires an invigilated setting. In-person exams will be arranged in accordance with social distancing guidelines. Your department will confirm to you at the start of the academic year which format each of your exams will take.

Some of my exams have been postponed from Trinity Term 2020 and I’m expecting them to take place in September or Michaelmas Term. When will I hear more?

We will be arranging the timetable for postponed exams in July and confirming dates to students and departments as soon as possible over the summer, so that you have advance warning of your exam dates. If your exam needs to take place in person, we will put in place appropriate social distancing measures according to government guidelines.

How will the University support remote learning?

There may be times next year when staff or students need to teach or learn remotely, such as during periods of self-isolation or if government guidance or local health and safety advice changes. Our flexible approach to teaching next year means that we will be prepared to switch back to remote teaching if necessary. Our specialist study tutors are working over the summer to prepare resources to help you get the most from online lectures, tutorials and assessments. Further details will be made available in the coming weeks.

Will teaching take place within usual term dates?

Teaching at Oxford usually takes place from Weeks 1-8. It is possible that some teaching may take place during weeks 9-10 to allow us to maintain levels of contact time. The exact teaching dates for each course will be confirmed as soon as possible by your department. You should assume that teaching will take place from Weeks 1-8 until informed otherwise, and will be informed in advance if there is any change.

Colleges

Will all student accommodation be available to students, and when will I find out if I have a room?

We aim to offer as much student accommodation as possible, in line with government health advice. Your college will inform you of the process of allocating rooms, and will confirm more detailed arrangements in the near future.

For offer holders only: please note that all students are eligible for college accommodation, and your college will explain the process for applying for its accommodation.
Postgraduate offer holders only: if your college is not able to provide accommodation, the University's Graduate Accommodation Office may be able to help, or you may need to seek accommodation in the private sector.

When will I know if different college services are open?

Colleges are now working through the details of how best to reopen services in a safe way for students and staff. All colleges will work together to ensure that services are opened in accordance with public health advice, and will share more information as soon as possible.

If my course is extended beyond week 8 will I be provided with accommodation?

We have not yet confirmed the specific dates of teaching in the next academic year. Where students live in College or University or accommodation, and their courses are extended, accommodation will be made available as needed. Further details – including information about rent arrangements - will follow as soon as possible. Hardship funding will be made available for those facing financial difficulties, alongside the wide range of existing support from the University and Colleges (see fees and funding section for more details).

Health and safety

Can you tell me more about the health and safety arrangements in University buildings?

The University is gradually re-opening University buildings over the Long Vacation, in line with government guidelines. We are setting up our teaching spaces and facilities in a way that reduces the spread of COVID-19, supports social distancing in line with current government requirements, and bringing in ways of working, physical measures and protective equipment needed as appropriate. This includes in our teaching spaces, laboratories and communal areas. As we welcome our new and returning students back, you will be briefed fully on these safe working procedures and given information about what you need to do to minimise risks to health.

Will I be required to wear a face covering?

We expect that all students and staff will wear face coverings when in teaching environments. A more detailed approach to face coverings is now being developed, and guidance will be shared as soon as possible.

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

The University will be 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 - at least for the first term – for the health and safety of individual students. This includes students in high risk categories who are not able to return to the University.

Will Oxford adopt a ‘social bubbles’ approach?

We are considering a number of options for ensuring the safety of our students and staff, including a “household” approach within Colleges. However, the arrangements have not yet been confirmed. Further details will follow over the Long Vacation.

What will the University do if there is an increase in cases of coronavirus in the next academic year?

Should restrictions or alert levels increase, the University and colleges will put in place contingency plans in order to adapt rapidly as necessary – ensuring we are able to operate safely while maintaining excellent standards of education for students.

Travel

I live outside the UK. Will I have to self-isolate when arriving in the UK? And do I need to arrive before the start of term?

The UK Government currently requires anyone arriving from overseas to self-isolate for 14 days. However, we do not yet know whether these arrangements will be in place at the start of the new term. If you would like to book your travel and arrive 14 days before the start of your course, you will need to ensure that your accommodation is available to you. 

If you have a college room confirmed, or are living in University accommodation, please contact your college or the University Graduate Accommodation Office, and they will accommodate you from the date of your arrival, at the usual rates. You will be supported by your College or the University through the period of isolation. If you are living in private accommodation, please make arrangements direct with your accommodation provider.

What will happen with residency requirements?

Residency requirements were suspended from March 2020 until the end of the academic year. The University is currently consulting on the arrangements for the next academic year. Regardless of the outcome, students who are unable to travel to Oxford for the start of Michaelmas term will be able to continue their studies.

I have a year abroad planned for the next academic year. What arrangements will be put in place?

The University is planning for year abroad activity to continue during the 2020-21 academic year, subject to a rigorous risk assessment and approval process to ensure the safety and suitability of all student placements. Arrangements for years abroad and international placements will be decided on a course-by-course basis depending on the location of placements and the specific circumstances at host institutions and organisations in destination countries. Your Department or Faculty will provide further information as soon as it is possible to do so.

If it is not practical for me to return home during the Christmas vacation, will I be able to remain in my accommodation?

We understand that many of our international students and offer holders will want to book flights to and from Oxford. We will confirm whether any course dates will change soon as possible. Colleges will ensure that international students are accommodated during the Christmas vacation if necessary. Further information will follow in the near future.

Fees and funding

Will there be any changes to fees or funding arrangements?

No. We will ensure that students are able to take advantage of our world class academic teaching and meet the educational objectives of each programme. As such, all course fees and funding arrangements will remain unchanged.

We are focusing on supporting students and delivering our programmes of study within the constraints of current circumstances. Whilst we appreciate that this will mean that they are not delivered in the same manner as previous years, we still intend to ensure 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. 

For those postgraduate students whose work is substantially disrupted (particularly because of closed labs or the inability to do fieldwork) we are working case by case on practical adjustments, often including, where necessary, suspension of studies and/or extensions of relevant deadlines. Work is ongoing to look at the impact of current disruption to see what else may be done in these cases. 

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. 

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

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has published guidance for PhD students that it supports. If you are a postgraduate student with a Research Council studentship, we encourage you to review this information. It should be read in conjunction with other FAQs available on this page about what to do in the event that your research has been disrupted because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The University has announced that it will provide funding extensions to students in cases where they have been clearly impacted by the ongoing pandemic. Specifically, the University will underwrite co-funded extensions for UKRI and Wellcome Trust funded students currently in their final year of funding, and will do the same for students in the final year of Oxford-funded schemes including Clarendon. Funding extensions for students in their penultimate year of funding will be reviewed at a later date, in line with UKRI’s developing plans.  More information about the process for seeking a funding extension will be made available in early July. 

Other students, including those who are currently self-funding their studies, will be eligible for a new hardship scheme for the 2020/21 academic year, with specific provision made for the needs of PGR students. Further details about this will be published over the Long Vacation. 

Meanwhile if COVID-19 has disrupted your progress, you should continue to discuss adjustments to your research plans with your supervisor and department. 

Will there be any hardship funding available in the next academic year?

A new hardship scheme is currently being developed for students whose finances have been impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak beyond Trinity term 2020, and this will be launched for the 2020/21 academic year. Further information will be included on this webpage and on the dedicated coronavirus hardship funding webpage in due course. Students who are in urgent financial difficulty during the Long Vacation are advised to contact their college hardship officer for further guidance. 

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. 

Student life

Will student clubs and societies continue to operate?

Student clubs and societies have been active throughout Trinity term despite the lockdown in the UK. From Michaelmas term, they will be encouraged to remain active and consider ways in which they can operate in line with government safety guidelines. The Proctors will once again be accepting new clubs and societies registrations from the start of Michaelmas term. This is likely to be predominantly online in the first instance.

What will happen to events such as the Freshers’ Fair?

Oxford SU is working up details for virtual versions of their usual events, including the student welcome, in line with social distancing guidelines. The virtual Freshers’ Fair will ensure student groups have the ability to get their ever-important new sign-ups for the year, new students have the chance to engage in their wider student community, and returning and new students still have access to deals and discounts. More details to follow from Oxford SU in the coming weeks on the Oxford SU website.

Will University services such as Careers and Welfare be available to me?

Yes. We expect that all services will be available for students – whether that be face-to-face or in remote form. Face-to-face services will be made available in line with government health advice at the time.

When can I expect to receive more information?

Due to the nature of the ongoing pandemic, it is not possible to provide all the details of the arrangements for the new academic year at this stage. However, we are committed to providing more detailed information as soon as it is possible to do so. We will provide regular updates in the weeks ahead in line with government guidance and health advice. As usual, colleges (for undergraduates) or departments (for graduate students) are the best first point of contact for any queries that students may have.

Degree ceremonies

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 and November 2020 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 December 2020 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 clicking here

Health and wellbeing

Where can I find the latest health advice about coronavirus?

Please visit the NHS website for full information about coronavirus, including answers to common questions. Additional information is also available on the University's coronavirus advice page.

I need to self-isolate because I have coronavirus symptoms or I share a house with someone who has symptoms. What do I do now?

If you have coronavirus symptoms and are living in college accommodation, you should contact your college welfare lead and they will provide further advice about what to do. If your symptoms or circumstances are affecting your ability to study, you should inform your college or department as soon as possible. 

If you live in University graduate accommodation and need to self-isolate you should inform both your college welfare lead and the Graduate Accommodation Office.

If you share a house with someone self-isolating from coronavirus symptoms, you should also self-isolate.

PHE has published guidance on self-isolating at home, including in shared accommodation.  

Where can I find the wider guidance about coronavirus?

The situation is evolving rapidly. You should visit and regularly check the following websites for the latest updates and guidance:

What should I do if I feel anxious about coronavirus?

It is normal to feel sad, stressed, confused, scared or angry during a crisis. There are some great resources out there to help support your mental health, whether you are in Oxford or away, and especially when self-isolating. Student Minds has a list of advice and tips on their website and further links. The Counselling Service website has a range of supportive resources and information about managing mental health conditions. You can still access Student Welfare and Support Services, although our physical building is closed, all services are offering online telephone appointments.

If you have an existing mental health condition, then we know this may be a particularly challenging time. You can find public health advice for supporting your mental health on the PHE website. A 24/7 NHS mental health helpline has also recently been launched to take pressure off 111 for mental health advice in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

In addition, students can now also access free online support 24/7 through Big White Wall. Big White Wall is a free service giving you access to a global welfare community. To join, simply visit the official website and Register under "I'm from a university or college" with your Oxford e-mail address.

Is there any hardship funding I can apply for due to the effects of coronavirus?

Faculties, Departments, Colleges, and central services have some hardship funding that may be able to help you. The Emergency Assistance Fund, launched for Trinity term, provided short-term assistance for on-course, matriculated students whose finances have been negatively affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. Emergency Assistance grants of between £200 and £1,000 were available. The scheme closed to new applications on 12 June 2020.

A new hardship scheme is currently being developed for students whose finances have been impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak over a longer time period, and this will be launched for the 2020/21 academic year. Further information will be included on this webpage and on the dedicated coronavirus hardship funding webpage in due course. Students who are in urgent financial difficulty during the Long Vacation are advised to contact their college hardship officer for further guidance.

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.

Travel and visas

I intend to study remotely from my home country or another country. Will it affect my Tier 4 visa?

If you are a research student and you have agreed with your department to study remotely for Trinity term it will not affect your Tier 4 visa and it will remain valid. You should keep in touch with your supervisor as usual. This also applies if you are a taught student.

I wish to suspend due to issues related to coronavirus. How will this affect my Tier 4 visa status?

As per the above question, remote study is being facilitated for Trinity term and your college/department can help with any queries. It may be possible to manage a short suspension for research students and keep the visa valid where remote study is definitely not feasible, but this will depend on arrangements put in place by your department and will need to be discussed with them. If you suspend for more than one term, we would have to notify the Home Office and the visa would be cut short.

My Tier 4 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.

Is the ATAS Scheme now open for applications?

The scheme was temporarily closed in April and May but reopened on Monday 1 June. The processing time will be 30 working days.

I need to extend my visa, are the visa application centres in the UK now open?

The visa application centres have been closed over recent months but some larger centres opened on 1 June and more centres will open again soon. If you had submitted a pending visa application, the Home Office will contact you shortly to explain how they will finish processing your application. If you have not started an online application, you can begin a new application when you are ready. See the student visa webpages for information on how to extend your visa. Some visa centres overseas also started to open from 1 June 2020 and more will reopen on 22 June and next month, but it will vary by country. 

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. The larger visa appointment centres in the UK reopened on 1 June and it is hoped more centres will reopen over the summer. You should start your visa application online now and then check availability at the centres that are open for a biometrics appointment.

Has the Government changed the work permission for Tier 4 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 (PDF). 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.

Where can I get further help for Tier 4 visas, EU Settlement Scheme or other visa queries?

The Home Office has recently published new guidance for Tier 4 students (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 the Coronavirus. 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.

In terms of the impact of Brexit, the UK Government has said that the rights of EU students will not change until 31 December 2020 and that all citizens of the EU, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland who are living in the UK before 31 December 2020 will be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS).  If you are currently living in the UK, or have left the UK temporarily but plan to return (before 31 December 2020), you have until 30 June 2021 to apply to the EUSS.

How is the UK Government supporting international students?

The Universities Minister has written a letter to all International students (PDF) to offer reassurance on the action they have taken to keep students safe and to mitigate the impacts of the virus on your education. The University has acted on the Government’s recommendations and there are some useful links in the Government letter. The Home Office will also ensure there is extra capacity to deal with visa applications when appointments reopen.

Having read the guidance, I believe I may be able to return to study in Oxford. What do I need to do next?

  1. The first step is to ask your supervisor whether or not you are able to return.
  2. If your supervisor agrees you can return, they will confirm this with your head of department/Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or equivalent.
  3. If your head of department/DGS is content, you will need suitable accommodation. If you have private rented accommodation that is available for you to use, you can return (travelling in accordance with government guidance). If you require college accommodation, you should contact your college accommodation office and ask if they have accommodation available. Your college will inform you where you will be accommodated. It will be either in your college, or where that is not possible for Covid-19 reasons, in another college. 
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