Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for applicants and offer holders | University of Oxford

Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for applicants and offer holders

We recognise that the coronavirus is causing uncertainty.  Understandably, many of you will want to know if the disruption will affect your offer to study at Oxford. 

Oxford University and its colleges intend to be open to students at all levels for the 2020/21 academic year and look forward to welcoming you as a new student from the start of the Michaelmas (Autumn) term.  

We are fully committed to delivering an outstanding academic experience to our students, to maintaining our focus on personalised teaching, and to the safety and wellbeing of our entire community.

For undergraduate and taught graduate courses, the emphasis on small-group teaching by leading academics (for example, in undergraduate tutorials) is fundamental to an Oxford education and will continue to be a central part of our offering in the 2020/21 academic year. Similarly, research degrees will continue to be based on close personal supervision by renowned researchers.

Face-to-face teaching and research supervision will be complemented by high quality online activities where necessary, delivered by Oxford’s world-leading academic staff and drawing on the exceptionally rich resources available through our colleges, laboratories, libraries and collections.

Arrangements for teaching and /or research will, of course, be subject to conditions prevailing at the time and always with the health and safety of students and staff as the first priority. 

Your college (for undergraduates) or departments (for graduate students) will be in contact with offer holders over the coming months, giving more details of the arrangements for your Oxford course next year as they become available. As usual they are also the best first point of contact for any queries you may have in the meantime.

The guidance on this webpage will be updated on a regular basis and offer holders will also receive regular Preparing for Oxford emails from the University
For any of you who wish to find out more about wellbeing guidance, you may find some of the welfare resources available to current students useful.

If you are a current student, please go to the student coronavirus advice page for specific guidance about Trinity term arrangements.

Undergraduate

Information for offer holders and applicants for undergraduate courses at Oxford

I am holding an offer for undergraduate study beginning in October 2020 which includes meeting an English language requirement. How do I fulfil this condition when test centres are currently closed? 

If you already hold an English language certificate that meets our English language requirements, please contact the college offering your place. 

For undergraduate offer holders who have not yet taken their English language test, and depending on individual circumstances, we have made the following changes to our English language requirements. These changes are in response to test centres being currently closed in certain regions, so you should follow the advice given below, depending on where you live: 

  • If normal testing arrangements are available in your country, then you should take a test to fulfil our English language requirements and send evidence of certification to Oxford University by the extended deadline of  Monday 10 August 2020.
  •  If normal testing arrangements are suspended in your country then, where possible, you should take the TOEFL iBT (Special Home Edition). You will need to achieve the same scores as for the standard IBT, detailed here. 
  • If you are not able either to take an English language test in the normal way or to access the TOEFL iBT (Special Home Edition) and if you do not need an English language certificate for visa purposes, the following options might apply to you: 

    1.  We will accept English language certificates taken within three years of the start of your academic course. We will also ask you to take a compulsory Academic English course during term time, as detailed here.
    2.  We will accept Standard Level scores for courses requiring Higher Level, and ask you to take compulsory Academic English course during term time, as detailed here.
    3.  We will consider waiving your English Language requirement and ask you to take a compulsory Academic English course during term time, as detailed hereIf you think this is your only option, please contact us at undergraduate.options@admin.ox.ac.uk as soon as you can. 

  • If you are not able either to take an English language test in the normal way or to access the TOEFL iBT (Special Home Edition) and you do require an English language certificate for visa purposes, please contact us at undergraduate.options@admin.ox.ac.uk.

You can also view the information above as a chart.

Will Oxford accept the grades students are issued this year?  

We are aware that the majority of our offer holders will have had their education disrupted since the start of the COVID-19 emergency, with many also unable to take examinations that would have contributed to their final grades. We will therefore be accepting the grades issued this summer by the relevant recognised authority. Providing you meet all of the conditions of your offer with us by the deadline stipulated by UCAS (currently 31 August), your offer will be confirmed and you will be accepted by the University. This applies wherever you are studying in the world.  

Will students who miss their grades still be considered for a place at Oxford? 

If you do not get the grades needed to meet the conditions of your offer, and you feel there are extenuating circumstances which may indicate that you should have your placed confirmed despite missing your offer grades, you should follow normal procedures and contact the college that made you an offer or an open-offer.

Will Oxford offer places to any students holding offers who achieve grades through the proposed autumn exam series?

We are waiting for more information about any additional autumn series of examinations that might take place, who will be eligible to take part and whether they will be offered in all subjects, by all examination boards and schools. We understand you might be concerned but we really want to make the right decision and one that is fair for all our students holding offers. Once the autumn exam arrangements have been clarified we will be in touch with schools and students to confirm our position.

Will Oxford let offer holders defer their place to 2021 if they don’t wish to start in October 2020?

Subject to any public health conditions still being in force, we are expecting to welcome a full cohort of new undergraduates in October 2020, so we will not routinely support requests for deferral. Any offer holders with particular, verifiable reasons to wish to defer their place should contact the college which made their offer or open-offer to discuss this.

I am thinking of applying to Oxford and wanted to attend an outreach event. Are these events still running?

At the moment, our face to face events are not taking place as planned. You will realise that this is in line with Government guidance on social distancing and events will not go ahead for the duration that this is in place. However, Oxford remains strongly committed to providing opportunities for you to discover what it is like to study here as an undergraduate and to find out about the exceptional benefits we can offer our students.

We are currently working hard to explore alternative options and to transfer our outreach events into digital experiences. More information will be available shortly on the undergraduate admissions website.

Is the University still awarding scholarships to students who will be starting new courses in the 2020-21 academic year?

Scholarship award processes are continuing for 2020/21 entry and it is expected that (as normal) most scholarships will be awarded by the end of June.  Awards based on assessment of students’ household income by the UK government funding agencies for England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland (e.g. undergraduate Crankstart Scholarships and Oxford Bursaries) will take place as usual ahead of the start of the new academic year in the Autumn of 2020.

Graduate

Information for applicants and offer holders looking to begin graduate courses in the 2020/21 academic year

The graduate admissions cycle is progressing as planned and prospective applicants can continue to apply for courses that are open for applications. Many staff are working remotely but have access to all the usual systems, and we are processing applications and making decisions as normal. Scholarship award processes are also continuing, and it is expected that the vast majority of scholarships will be awarded by the end of June.

We recognise that the current situation regarding coronavirus (Covid-19) is causing uncertainty and difficulties, but please rest assured that we are committed to limit any impact this will have on progressing your application. We will support you in the best possible way through the admissions process, and are committed to the highest standards of education, despite the ongoing pandemic.

Please find below answers to some of the frequently asked questions. As soon as we have further information, updates will be posted to this page, and we would encourage you to check this page regularly.

Information for applicants

Can I still submit an application for postgraduate study?

Yes, if the course is still open, applications can be submitted as normal – you can check the status on the course page. View our application guide to find out how to get started.

Some courses have re-opened. You can check which ones have re-opened on our website, and view the full list of open courses.

Can I reapply for a course that has reopened for applications?

If you applied for a taught course and your application was unsuccessful, you may not make a further application for the same course within the same admissions year.

It is only possible to apply for the same course twice in the same application cycle where it is a research degree (DPhil) and you are applying to the same course with a significantly different research proposal.

If you are considering doing this, please first contact the relevant academic department to confirm whether your original application was assessed only for a specific project or for the course as a whole.

*NEW* I am applying for a course but I cannot get hold of a copy of my transcript?

Many institutions provide electronic transcripts via an approved, secure third-party provider. Please check with your institution whether they are providing such transcripts, and if yes, request a copy to be sent to graduate.admissions@admin.ox.ac.uk. If you are unable to get hold of either an electronic copy or a scan of a hard copy of your transcript, please upload with your application in lieu of an official transcript either a download from your institution's student self-service portal (if available) or correspondence from the institution confirming that they cannot provide a transcript, for example, an email. You should also upload a copy of your final degree certificate if available, and any other documentation you may have regarding your results.

You should also ask your referees to provide information on your degree results and marks in their reference, if they can.

Please note that if your application is successful, and if you have not been able to provide a suitable transcript of your qualifications, the academic department will set this as an academic condition.

What will happen if I am shortlisted for an interview?

If you are shortlisted for a course that requires an interview, this will be conducted remotely. You can check if the course you have applied for usually conducts interviews on the course page. The academic department will be in contact with you beforehand to confirm the arrangements with you.

It has been more than ten weeks, and I have not heard whether I have been successful with my application. What should I do?

All graduate applications are being processed, and departments are working hard to provide decisions as soon as possible. During these difficult times, in some cases, it may take longer for us to assess your application than is usually the case, and we are very sorry if you are experiencing delays. If you need to receive a decision quickly to enable you to decide whether to accept an offer elsewhere, please contact the academic department directly via the contact details on the course page 

I’m an applicant, and I need to post an additional document/have already posted a document in support of my application. Have you received it?

If you have not submitted your application yet, please scan your document and upload it as part of your application form. If you have already submitted your application, and your document cannot be uploaded via Applicant Self Service, please scan them and upload them as PDF files using thedocument upload portal. Do not post them due to disruption to postal services.

If you have already posted a document, please re-send this document as an electronic copy using the document upload portal.

Offer holders: meeting conditions

I cannot complete my undergraduate course because my education has been disrupted or my university has closed. What do I do?

Most institutions have put plans in place to enable students to complete their qualification as expected, so we would expect most students to be able to finish their qualification. If you are offered a place on a course at Oxford, you will normally be set a condition of achieving your current qualification with a minimum score and providing a final transcript by a specified date (if you have not already completed your current degree). The deadline may vary by department, but, for entry in October 2020, the latest date you can provide this information is 31 August 2020 (although this may need to be earlier if you need to apply for a student visa).

If the completion of your current course will be delayed because of personal circumstances or other reasons, and therefore you will be unable to take up your place at Oxford by your course start date, please contact your academic department who will provide further guidance.

*NEW* I have received an offer from Oxford with an academic condition to achieve a certain score in my current qualification, but my institution has made changes to my examinations, and is going to issue me with an unclassified degree as a result of the pandemic. Will it be accepted as sufficient evidence to meet academic conditions?

We recognise that some institutions’ assessment and examination processes may have changed since you have been made an offer. Where offer holders are no longer able to obtain their classified qualification as originally expected, and their institutions are issuing them with an unclassified degree in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, these will be accepted for completion of academic conditions for admission to graduate programmes at Oxford due to start in 2020-21.

If this applies to you, please email your academic department with a copy of your final degree results including any marks/scores once they are available, together with any further information your institution is making available to you to accompany your unclassified degree, for example, revised assessment/examination/marking schemes.

*NEW* I’m a current Oxford student, and have received an offer with an academic condition to achieve a certain score in my Oxford qualification, but I am unable to undertake my assessments and will be issued with a Declared Award. Will this be accepted to complete my academic condition?

We recognise that assessment and examination processes have changed since you have been made an offer. Where offer holders are no longer able to obtain their qualification as originally expected as a result of the pandemic, and you are being issued with an Oxford Declared Award in 2020, this will be accepted for completion of academic conditions for admission to graduate programmes at Oxford due to start in 2020-21.

Please email your academic department with a copy of your final degree results including any marks/scores once they are available, together with any further available information about your Declared Award, for example, an enhanced reference.

*NEW* Will I be able to apply for graduate study at Oxford with an Oxford Declared Award or an unclassified degree from another institution in the future?

Oxford’s Declared Awards and other institutions’ unclassified degrees awarded in 2020 as a result of the pandemic will be considered as sufficient to apply to Oxford, and will be assessed by departments alongside all other materials submitted as part of the application process. Further information will be available on the Graduate Admissions website when it goes live for entry in 2021-22 at the beginning of September.

I cannot book an English language test because test centres are currently closed. What do I do?

We have made the following changes to our English language requirements because test centres are closed in certain regions:

  • We will accept older English language tests, taken up to five years prior to the official start date of the course applied for, which meets the published standards for the course.

  • Where the department is satisfied with your standard of English, we will waive the language requirement where you have completed a full-time degree, of a minimum of nine months, taught and assessed in English at a recognised institution, in the last five years.

  • If you have already taken an English language test, and you have missed the scores that we require by a small margin, please contact the academic department as they may consider accepting your scores and ask you to attend one of our English language courses when you start at Oxford (at no cost). This will be a decision for the department.

  • We will now accept the TOEFL IBT (Special Home Edition), alongside the other accepted tests. You will need to achieve the same scores as for the standard IBT, as detailed on our website.

  • *NEW* We will also accept our Language Centre’s online pre-sessional course as appropriate to meet our English language requirements, provided you pass the end-of-course assessment at the required level.
If you have been set a condition of meeting the English language test requirement and meet one of the criteria above, please contact the academic department, providing relevant evidence as necessary.

If I undertake the online pre-sessional course offered by the University Language Centre, will it be accepted for visa application purposes?

Yes, satisfactory completion, at the required level, of our online pre-sessional course is accepted for visa purposes. Assessment will be completed in time for visa applications, in cases where the pre-sessional is necessary for completion of English language conditions.

I’m an offer holder and I need to post a document/have already posted a document to meet the conditions of my offer. Have you received it?

If you need to send documents to your department or college as evidence to meet conditions, please scan them and email them to the email addresses provided in your offer letters – do not post them due to disruption to postal services.  If you have already posted a document, please email this document as an electronic copy to your department or college (as relevant).

One of of my offer conditions is to provide a hard-copy original of my final transcript. Do I still have to provide this?

Please do not post any documents to your department or college due to disruption to postal services.

Many institutions provide, electronic transcripts via an approved, secure third-party provider. Please check with your institution whether they are providing such transcripts, and if yes, register the email address provided by your academic department in your offer letter so that they receive a secure copy. If that is not possible, please email a scanned copy of your final transcript to your department.

My institution has made changes to examinations, and is going to issue unclassified degrees. Will these be accepted as sufficient evidence to meet academic conditions?

If you have been set an academic condition of achieving a certain class in your current degree (e.g. a First, or a Distinction), and your institution has moved to unclassified degrees due to coronavirus, please email your academic department with a copy of your unclassified transcript, and any marks/scores once they are available. The academic department will make an assessment of this evidence, and will let you know whether they are happy to proceed with admissions.

Do I need to inform you of mitigating circumstances caused by disruption that I have faced due to coronavirus?

If you have faced any disruption to your current studies because of coronavirus, please check with your institution on any mitigating circumstances they have put in place. We would expect students to report this to their awarding institution so that this could be taken into account according to their policies.

Offer holders: taking up your place

Are courses for 2020 still running as normal in Michaelmas (autumn) term?

Yes. Oxford University and its colleges intend to be open to students at all levels for the 2020/21 academic year and look forward to welcoming you as a new student from the start of the Michaelmas (Autumn) term.

We are fully committed to delivering an outstanding academic experience to our students, to maintaining our focus on personalised teaching, and to the safety and wellbeing of our entire community.

Face-to-face teaching and research supervision will be complemented by high quality online activities where necessary, delivered by Oxford’s world-leading academic staff and drawing on the exceptionally rich resources available through our colleges, laboratories, libraries and collections.

Further information will be made available as the situation develops, and in line with government advice.

Is the University still awarding scholarships for postgraduate students who will be starting new courses in the 2020-21 academic year?

Scholarship award processes are continuing for 2020/21 entry and it is expected that (as normal) most scholarships will be awarded by the end of June.  

Immigration and visa applications

*UPDATED* I need to apply for a visa but the visa application centres are closed. What should I do?

Some visa centres will begin to open from 1 June, and we expect other countries will follow later in the summer. There is still plenty of time to apply for a visa as you cannot apply for a visa more than three months before the course start date, i.e. from early July onwards for a course starting in October 2020. We will monitor the situation and keep you updated over the summer. You can read the information on the visa and immigration webpages to prepare in advance for your visa application for when the visa centres reopen in your country.

*UPDATED* Is the Academic Technology Approval Scheme now open?

The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) was closed in April and May but reopened to new applications on Monday 1 June. Your department will be in touch with further information about the next steps. Courses that require an ATAS certificate are listed on the Graduate Admissions webpage. Applications for ATAS will take around 30 working days.

I’m an EU/EEA student. Will I need a visa because of Brexit?

If you are currently living in the UK, or have left the UK temporarily but plan to return, you might still be able to apply for the EU Settlement scheme before 30 June 2021. If you do not currently meet the criteria to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme, you will need to have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020 to apply under the scheme. If you are not eligible to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme and you come to the UK after 31 December 2020, you will need to apply for a Tier 4 visa and pay the immigration health surcharge. This may change if the Government extends the Brexit transition period.

I will need a student visa to start my course at Oxford. Will there be an impact on visa applications for students if I start later than October 2020?

Students who need a visa may need to pay more for the immigration health surcharge which is expected to increase from £300 a year to £470 a year for visa applications made on or after 1 October 2020 (likely to affect those starting in January 2021 and later). The Government have not indicated whether this planned increase may be delayed.

Deferrals

Can I defer my place?

Oxford will support you through the admissions process and we hope that you will be able to take up your place as expected. If you have difficulties with any aspects of the admissions process, please contact your academic department in the first instance to see whether these could be resolved. At this stage, there is still time for offer-holders to meet conditions.

If you need to defer your place, please refer to our standard policy on deferrals. You can request a deferral if you have met all your conditions (academic and financial), and have experienced individual, exceptional, unforeseen or unforeseeable circumstances, such as ill-health/bereavement. Please contact your academic department with your reasons and evidence. Note that generic reference to the coronavirus pandemic will not be considered an acceptable ground for deferral.

If you are an international student (including EU nationals) who may need to apply for a Tier 4 student visa, please consider the implications on immigration and visa (see above) before requesting a deferral.

This policy will be kept under close review in light of global travel restrictions and guidance in the months leading up to the new academic year.

*NEW* University Card Form process for Michaelmas (Autumn) term 2020

*NEW* I’m an offer holder, and I have completed all my academic and financial conditions, and am ready to enrol. Will the University accept scanned copies of University Card Forms for next academic year?

Offer holders who have fulfilled all their academic and financial conditions will be sent a University Card Form by their academic department which they will have to complete and return to confirm their intention to enrol at Oxford. For Michaelmas (Autumn) term 2020, you should email a scanned copy of your University Card Form instead of posting it. Full instructions will be emailed to you by your academic department.

Further information

Who should I contact if I have a question?

  • If you are an offer holder and you have a question about meeting your academic conditions, please contact your academic department via the contact details in your Certificate of Offer.

  • If you are an offer holder and you have a question about meeting your financial conditions, please contact your college via the contact details in your college offer letter.

  • If you are currently applying for a course or have a general enquiry, please use this online form to contact the Graduate Admissions and Recruitment Office.

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