The University has today released plans to reopen to students at all levels from the start of Michaelmas term.
Colleges will be open with accommodation available for students, as well as libraries and laboratories, though in a more limited capacity. The University has stated: “Work is also ongoing to preserve the much-valued social aspects of college life for students”. The SU Fresher’s Fair has been moved to a virtual format.
Large-group teaching like lectures will remain online “at least for the first term”, hosted over Canvas and other platforms.
In addition, “Oxford has set out clear guidance as to what is expected of students and staff and how they can best protect themselves and others. This includes a dedicated testing service, support for students needing to self-isolate, and clear guidance informed by scientific advice.”
The University also states that it will support students who need to self-isolate on returning to the UK, but students will need to arrange accommodation with college: “They will accommodate you from the date of your arrival, at the usual rates.”
Guidance states that the University recognises some will not be able to return in Michaelmas, for travel or health reasons, but that all students are expected to be in residence by the start of Hilary term.
The University is also working with the city of Oxford to prepare for the influx of students in autumn to reduce additional burdens on local services. Additionally, given than building may not be operating at full capacity, it is considering the possibility to extending term time “to ensure students get suitable levels of contact time”.
Prof Martin Williams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, said: “The Oxford University experience is unlike any other. We want all our students to enjoy Oxford’s academic and social opportunities as fully as possible, and these plans will help them to do so within the constraints of the ongoing pandemic.
“Our commitment to supporting our students includes their health and wellbeing and the quality of their experience. We are working closely with the colleges and student representatives to achieve this balance. We will take active steps to ensure all students can access Oxford’s enriching opportunities regardless of their background or personal circumstances. For example, Oxford SU is planning a virtual version of its Freshers’ Fair, giving new and returning students the chance to engage in their wider student community, and find out about the wide range of clubs and societies and local organisations that support students.
“We recognise that these are unsettling times, but have worked hard to provide opportunities for all to connect with other students and thrive in these new conditions, whether face-to-face or online – regardless of their backgrounds, or any disadvantage or disruption they may have faced as a result of Covid-19.”