Page last updated: 20 November 2023
All Student Welfare and Support Services are open all year round, with the exception of the Christmas closure period (21 December - 2 January), the Easter Bank Holiday weekend (Maundy Thursday to Easter Monday inclusive) and the August Bank Holiday Monday.
Oxford's academic year
Oxford's year is divided into three terms and three vacations. Within each term, a 'full term' of eight weeks is usually the main teaching period.
A change in routine
During vacations, both undergraduate and postgraduate routines change. Formal lectures and seminars pause, allowing students to focus on self-directed study and much-needed rest. For postgraduates, extended periods of self-directed research are more standard. More information for international students can be found on the New Student pages.
It's natural if you find vacations challenging
Vacations might bring additional stress, especially for students from abroad, far from home, or dealing with estrangement. Social networks can change, and the pace may shift due to travel, returning home, work, or year-abroad plans. Students can often pressure themselves to make the most of vacations for CV-building or completing work.
It is vital to keep a balanced outlook during the vacations, just as the Counselling Service promote a balanced approach during term-time.
Making time for your wellbeing
Make your health, and mental wellbeing a priority, as well as the opportunities offered by the vacations. Consider your wellbeing like a bank account—regular self-care deposits (sleep, relaxation, exercise) ensure overall wellbeing and a strong basis for the next term.
Read more advice on handling vacation-related stress.
Remember, it's okay to feel concerned about vacations. The University's welfare services and Oxford-wide services provide support and assistance if needed.
Vacation welfare support services
Many mental health services are open all year round, while others will have different opening hours or be closed on some days. There are many welfare resources available for you, all of them free and confidential.
The information on this page will help you to find a mental health service whatever time of the day or night.
If you are in crisis:
- Dial 999 or go to John Radcliffe Hospital's A&E, Headley Way, Headington OX3 9DU. Open 24/7. Contact: 0300 304 7777 or find your nearest A&E.
- NHS Urgent Mental Health Helpline. Open 24/7.
- Oxford University Security Services. Contact 01865 289 999. Open 24/7.
Contacts for other welfare and health concerns.
Sources of support
During vacation periods, some college welfare and student bodies will offer a range of activities for students who are remaining in Oxford. Check your college websites and welfare teams for updated details.
The University Counselling Service remains open throughout the year to provide support (view the webpage for selective vacation closure dates), providing both in-person and online appointments. The Counselling Service also has excellent self-help resources. Visit the Counselling Service website to make an appointment.
Care experienced Or Estranged students
The University provides assistance tailored to students who are estranged from family or are care experienced.
The Counselling Service has teamed up with Togetherall (an NHS-approved service) to provide mental health support 24/7 to students, wherever you are in the world. Togetherall provides space to connect with other students through online forums, advice, and structured self-learning courses. It is free to register with your Oxford email and if you are a registered user, you can talk online to a mental health professional using the ‘message a wall guide’ feature.
NHS Oxfordshire Talking Therapies
NHS Oxfordshire Talking Therapies is a free, confidential NHS service available to anyone over the age of 18, registered with a GP in Oxfordshire. Aimed at people experiencing common conditions including stress, anxiety and depression.
How to access
Call 01865 901 222, Monday 8am-5pm, Tuesday to Thursday 8am-8pm or Friday 8am-5pm, or complete an online referral form anytime or get a referred from your GP/Healthcare professional.
The UK Council for International Student Affairs is charity and membership organisation supporting international students.
Stay connected and supported during challenging times.