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

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

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. 

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.

Health and advice

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:

Welfare and wellbeing

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 limited hardship funding that may be able to help you. The University has also been working to make available some additional hardship funding to support students at this time. A new Emergency Assistance Fund has been launched for Trinity term to provide 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 are available.

The Emergency Assistance Fund application form and guidance notes are now available to request through your college hardship officer and these will be processed on a rolling basis. 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.

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

What is the University’s plan for Michaelmas term 2020?  

The University and colleges intend to be open to students at all levels for the 2020/21 academic year and look forward to welcoming new and returning students from the start of Michaelmas 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 current and returning students 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.   

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? 

You can find out what guidance and support you can access for IT equipment, internet connection, keeping secure, and more, by checking this article.

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 2020-21, with our libraries, collections and services as open as they can 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.  

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”.

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.

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 don’t think I will be able to submit my thesis on time because of coronavirus. What should I do?

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.

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.

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 August 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 September 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 again, there is no action needed.

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.

Travel and visas

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.

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 will reopen at noon 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 were closed over the last two months but some larger centres will reopen from 1 June 2020 and then other centres later in the summer. 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 will also start to open from 1 June 2020 but it will vary by country. 

How do I extend my student visa in the UK when the visa application centres are currently closed?

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. It is still possible to submit an application online even though you cannot attend a biometrics appointment. Once you have completed your online application and paid the fees you can remain lawfully in the UK no matter how long it takes for the visa decision. The UKCISA website explains how this is possible. The Home Office will update you on when you can attend an appointment and you can also check on the Government website.

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. 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 publishednew guidance for Tier 4 students 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.

How is the UK Government supporting international students?

The Universities Minister has written a letter to all International students 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.

For postgraduate research students

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

You may be able to return if you are already living within safe daily commuting distance of the University and your department is re-opening your workspace under the Return to On-site Working programme. You should discuss whether this may be possible with your supervisor in the first instance. Please note that this option can only be offered to students in departments that are re-opening, where your building is opening, and is subject to us being able to offer a safe working environment that is compliant with government guidance.

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 penalised if you decide not to return at this point.

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

No. We are monitoring government guidance and as this changes and more widespread travel for the purposes of work is permitted, we will review this position. You should contact your Director of Studies if you require further advice. 

What does living within safe daily commuting distance mean?

Under present guidance this means that you cannot relocate to Oxford in order to work, but if you live in or near Oxford and can get in safely then this would be considered to be acceptable. The question of what constitutes ‘safely’ will depend upon your individual circumstances and this is something you should consider when deciding whether you will return.  You may wish to look at local public transport websites to understand the arrangements that may apply to your journey to help inform your decision.

Students on a year abroad or overseas placement

Should I go home if I can no longer continue with my year/study abroad placement, or overseas field work? (For example, because the country has imposed quarantine arrangements or because of closure of universities, businesses or schools)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is advising British people travelling abroad to return to the UK, if commercial flights are available. Additional advice has been issued by the UK Government that all UK students and staff currently working temporarily overseas (e.g. Erasmus+ or terms abroad), are advised to return to the UK, while commercial routes are available. This advice is because international travel is limited as air routes, land borders and flights.

The British government has announced a partnership with the airline industry to fly back more British citizens stranded abroad due to COVID-19. The press release and announcement can be viewed on the Government website. 

You should assess the FCO and UK government advice and act on it as far as is possible or reasonable.

It is acknowledged that in some instances returning to the UK is not possible or indeed the safest option. Under these circumstances you should make a risk based decision informed by a suitable and sufficient assessment of relevant aspects, which takes into account:

  • Where you are currently based and what your options are for alternative locations;
  • The advice of your home government and the government of the country in which you are living;
  • The risks of remaining in the country in which you are living and the measures being taken by them;
  • The availability of routes out of the country, and the risks associated with travel and transport;
  • Access to local medical provision, taking into account advice from the travel insurance emergency provider;
  • Whether you can practice social distancing and work securely remotely from your home base*;
  • Whether you would be able to safely self-isolate if that becomes necessary;
  • How long in total your stay is planned for.

Your decision should be documented, evidenced and approved by your faculty or department. If you are covered by the University travel insurance, then cover should remain valid under these circumstances. A summary of the insurance offered is available on the University Finance website.

* Note. If you intend to continue with any work other than secure remote online work, e.g. any work which involves face to face contact there needs to be full academic justification for why it is essential to continue, and a robust risk assessment detailing how this can be done safely. The risk assessment needs to be reviewed by the Safety Office and approved by the Head of Department/Head of Division.

If you are able to return to the UK or your home county (if not the UK), and you need to arrange flights back:

1. Contact your Airline
If you have a return ticket, the airline that you flew with has an obligation to assist you and to bring you home.

2. Contact the Local Embassy
If you are unable to arrange a flight with the airline, you should contact the local embassy for your home country. Many of these are arranging flights.

3. Arrange flights yourself
The cost of these will be covered if you have mitigated the costs.
(The advice is to act as though you are not covered when spending insurers’ money because extravagant or unreasonable costs may not be covered.)

4. Contact your department
If you are unable to arrange repatriation through the airline, your local embassy or yourself, you should contact your department or college to see what support is available.

For Emergencies please contact AON Protect.

Additionally check the advice given by the insurance assistance provider - AON Protect Assistance.

Please note that AON Protect do not advise on insurance coverage and policy terms but will arrange emergency medical or other cover. They should not be contacted for routine return flights for example, as they are unable to provide these.

The advice from the University insurers is to behave as though you are not insured and you are spending your own money, behave prudently and do what you believe is best on the ground. The insurers will look at things in a reasonable fashion in due course, but if someone has behaved unreasonably and incurred costs that are disproportionate, then they are unlikely to cover these costs.

You can also contact the University Safety Office for advice on assessing the risks.

If you do not have University travel insurance you should contact your own insurer.

If you are a non-UK resident who is overseas, you should take note of all the advice provided above and proceed in the same way if you wish to travel to your country of ordinary residence or back to the UK. You should also check the travel advice of your home country/embassy.

In addition, and on an ongoing basis all students should:

  • Continue to monitor the FCO advice, your own government advice (if not the UK) and advice of the country in which you are living.
  • Continue to take steps to minimise your risk of exposure to COVID-19.
  • Consider in making decisions, how rapidly the global situation is changing and the risks of difficulties arising with quarantine, flight cancellations and border restrictions.
  • Continue to monitor the University’s regular updates through its  Coronavirus advice  page.
  • Keep copies of all evidence that you may need to make a subsequent insurance claim. This includes screen shots of government advice at relevant times (FCO advice, advice in your host country, advice in your country of ordinary residence (if not the UK)) and notes of conversations you have with your insurer and/or AON including: the time and date of the conversation, the name of the individual you spoke to, and the advice they provided.
  • Remain in contact with your key faculty/department and college contact to ensure that they are all aware of your circumstances and update and share your risk assessment as significant changes occur.
  • Remember to extend your insurance if you need to.
  • Ensure that your address and telephone details are correct in Student Self Service.
  • On your return, check and follow any government guidance on what steps you need to take.
  • Please also contact erasmus@admin.ox.ac.uk or studyabroad@admin.ox.ac.uk if you have been in receipt of Erasmus or other funding managed by the central Student Fees & Funding team.

You should notify all insurance-related incidents to your Departmental/Faculty Administrator and the Insurance Office as soon as possible. Notification to the Insurance Office must be made within 28 days of the incident, even if you have not returned to the UK within that time. More details about the University’s scheme, including how to make claims is available on the Finance Division website.

I am concerned about going home. Would I be better coming back to Oxford? And can I live in college on my return?

We recognise the difficult choices that you may have to make at this time. Decisions should take into account FCO advice and information about the situation in your host and home country.

The decision to use online teaching and assessment in Trinity term means that you do not need to return to Oxford if you were doing so solely to continue with your studies. Residency requirements will be waived for all students for the remainder of this academic year. You may therefore want to consider where you would prefer to be located, if the situation continues for some time.

If you wish to discuss the possibility of returning to Oxford, please speak to your college about accommodation. However, please note that they may not be able to provide a room, for example because they cannot currently maintain normal levels of staffing and services.

Can I just leave a work placement?

You should take into account the most recent advice from the FCO (refer to the first question of this section). If you are undertaking a work placement, please discuss your intentions urgently with your employer, including the potential impact of leaving on any contractual obligations. Some employers are allowing students to continue to work remotely and we suggest that all students explore this as an option.

Please notify your Faculty or Department of any changes in your circumstances. Please also contact erasmus@admin.ox.ac.uk or studyabroad@admin.ox.ac.uk if you have been in receipt of Erasmus or other funding managed by the central Student Fees & Funding Team.

What do I do if I get sick while I’m away?

All students are required to have insurance ahead of their travel, typically provided through the University's insurers. If you require medical assistance, please contact a healthcare provider and your insurance company for support and advice. Students in the EU continue to be able to make use of the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card).

Will leaving a year/study abroad, research placement or other course-related international activity affect my academic progress?

Please be assured that we are committed to supporting our students’ academic success. The University already has processes for considering the impact of exceptional circumstances on students’ progression and assessment and these are being used in a range of circumstances. Course requirements for students with a year/study abroad component are under review and individual Faculties and Departments will make adjustments on a cohort-wide basis, where possible.

If possible, you are strongly encouraged to continue with activities that support the development of your academic skills and cultural knowledge. These might include working remotely for international companies, or taking online language courses offered by the University. If you are studying abroad (e.g. Modern Languages/Law undergraduates) this may well include engaging with online course provision being offered or developed by partner universities. As far as possible, it is expected that you will continue your course with these alternative arrangements. In the case of Law with Law Studies in Europe, if you do so and fulfil any relevant minimum expectations (e.g. achieve a pass in the exams that you are required to take) you will be deemed to have passed the year abroad. Individual circumstances will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

I have received an Erasmus grant for my year abroad. What will happen to it?

(a) Early returns from Erasmus+ mobilities

Please notify us of your early return and to discuss your particular circumstances.

It is normally only permissible for time spent abroad to be funded by your Erasmus+ grant. However, the UK National Agency has advised that an exception can be made for cases where mobility has been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak such that it may be possible for additional incurred costs strictly related to mobility to be funded through your Erasmus+ grant (e.g. accommodation costs for a longer duration than the actual time spent on mobility).

Any additional expense claims will still need to be supported by appropriate evidence of the costs incurred, such as receipts (which can be electronic versions). Please contact your college for further information.

(b) Cancellation of Erasmus mobilities that have not yet taken place

Any such cancellations will be considered by the UK National Agency, which will determine whether Force Majeure is applicable to the specific case. Please contact your representative for further information.

(c) I have already incurred costs associated with a future Erasmus mobility and cannot now travel. What should I do?

You should initially try to claim any funding back through your insurance provider. If you are unable to recover costs in this way, please inform us and provide evidence of expenditure.

(d) Can I continue to receive Erasmus funding if I have returned to the UK but continue studying/working remotely?

If you have returned home but are continuing your study/work remotely, you are eligible to receive your Erasmus grant as normal, provided that the online learning is offered by the host institution or organisation abroad and the content contributes to the achievement of the learning/training objectives as specified in the learning/traineeship agreement.

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

Faculties, Departments, Colleges, and central services have limited hardship funding that may be able to help you. The University has also been working to make available some additional hardship funding to support students at this time. A new Emergency Assistance Fund has been launched for Trinity term to provide 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 are available.

The Emergency Assistance Fund application form and guidance notes are now available to request through your college hardship officer and these will be processed on a rolling basis until the scheme closes on 12 June 2020. 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.

What will happen to my undergraduate Student Finance funding from the UK government if I return early due to the coronavirus in my host country?

We have been advised by the Student Loans Company (SLC) that your early return to the UK may affect your student finance. The SLC has provided guidance for students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland affected by coronavirus. The Student Awards Agency Scotland have provided guidance for students from Scotland. Arrangements with regional funding agencies will vary, but some offer support for financial hardship. For more details, please contact your funding agency directly in either EnglandWalesScotland or Northern Ireland Please get in touch with Student Fees and Funding if you require further advice about these arrangements.

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

UKRI has published new 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.

Fees and Funding

I receive a student loan from the UK Government. Will I receive my next student finance maintenance payment?

The Student Loans Company has confirmed that students will receive their scheduled or next instalment of their maintenance loan at the planned start of their summer term, regardless of whether their university or provider has made alternative arrangements for teaching.

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 Trinity term Oxford Bursary/Crankstart Bursary payment as normal?

Your bursary payments will not be affected by the move to online teaching and learning. As long as you remain enrolled on your course and continue to meet other bursary eligibility criteria you will receive your Trinity term bursary payment, as detailed in your award letter.

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. 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 studentship – will my funding be extended because of the COVID-19 pandemic?

UKRI has published new 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.

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

Faculties, Departments, Colleges, and central services have limited hardship funding that may be able to help you. The University has also been working to make available some additional hardship funding to support students at this time. A new Emergency Assistance Fund has been launched for Trinity term to provide 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 are available.

The Emergency Assistance Fund application form and guidance notes are now available to request through your college hardship officer and these will be processed on a rolling basis. 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.

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).

I have a question that has not been answered above. What should I do?

You should contact your welfare lead or academic office in your college in the first instance – or your department or faculty if your query relates specifically to your course.

 

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