In-person matriculation has been cancelled for the 2020-21 academic year, Oxford University has confirmed to students. It will be replaced with a ‘Formal Welcome’ from the Vice-Chancellor in a virtual event.

Matriculation is usually compulsory and takes place in the Sheldonian Theatre, involving all undergraduates and post-graduates about to start studying for an Oxford degree. It marks the formal entry of students into the University.

A spokesperson for the University said: “We are committed to ensuring students have an authentic Oxford experience in spite of COVID-19, and are working to ensure that some of the more traditional aspects of University life continue.

“For example, new students usually become members of the University through a formal matriculation ceremony at the Sheldonian Theatre. This year students will instead attend a Formal Welcome to the University by the Vice-Chancellor event online, incorporating many of the traditions of the existing ceremony, but in a virtual form.”

This news follows announcements that Oxford colleges are preparing for “household” accommodation groups and that teaching through Michaelmas Term will have significant virtual elements. The University has also announced virtual elements will supplement social and extra-curricular events as well as teaching.

Prof Martin Williams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) at Oxford University, 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.”