“Welcome back for Trinity term – wherever in the world you might be. This is a remarkable time for everyone in the University, but I would like to reassure you that we are doing everything we can to support you, and to maintain the outstanding educational experience that Oxford provides – even if you can’t be here in person.
“We’re particularly focused on remote teaching and learning – working with our academics and professional staff to put the right platforms and technologies in place, and ensuring that everyone involved knows how to make the most of them. We have published some top tips for adapting to remote study, as well as advice on technology that can support you which I would encourage you to read.
“Some of you will be taking online exams for the first time this term, and we have been working hard to prepare for this too. Replacing sub-fusc and the Exam Schools with online submissions and remote support provides its challenges. However, we are taking all the steps needed to support you and to ensure you are assessed fairly. We have now published a detailed guide to open-book exams, complementing our existing advice, as well as the honour code.
“You should have had an opportunity to complete a self-assessment about your home arrangements. We are now analysing this feedback, and further information will follow about support that might be made available if you raised any concerns. A new safety net policy is also now in place to reduce the risks that you will be disadvantaged by coronavirus.
“We are of course concerned about your wellbeing, and would like to remind you that both the Counselling Service and the Disability Advisory Service are continuing to operate in remote form – alongside College support. I am also pleased that the University has subscribed to Big White Wall - giving all students access to an online welfare community at this difficult time.
“I know that many of you are also concerned about funding and finance. The University and Colleges have confirmed that students will not be charged rent if they are not in residence; and Faculties, Departments and Colleges have some hardship funding that may be able to help you. The University is also looking to provide additional hardship fund to support students, and existing funding information is available on the Fees and Funding webpages.
“Finally, I am aware that our large community of postgraduate research students have specific concerns about external research funding, extensions and the support available to them. We have now published a dedicated section for you on the student coronavirus advice page, which I would suggest you refer to if you haven’t already. I would also encourage you to maintain a log of any disruption you face, to use as a reference point should any mitigating circumstances need to be taken into account.
“These are uncharted times, and given the context we are working in, the University’s response will not always be perfect. But please rest assured that your education and wellbeing is our absolute priority, and I would like to wish you all the best for the unusual – but I hope fruitful - term ahead.
“As ever, please continue to read the student coronavirus advice page, and if you have any questions, please speak to your College or Department/Faculty in the first instance as in almost all instances, they will be the best first ports of call.”