Oxford University will take a “lenient approach” to volunteering hours for Crankstart scholars in the 2020/2021 academic year, it has been announced. 

An email to scholars from the university said that: “Whilst we made the decision to treat the 25 hour volunteering component as normal for the 20/21 academic year back in the summer, life continues to change for those of us in the UK and an ‘as normal’ approach no longer seems correct or fair.

“As a result, we will be once again taking a lenient approach to volunteering hours for this academic year. Where volunteering is still possible in a COVID-safe capacity we would encourage you to do so.

“All scholars, excluding Clinical Medics or those on their Year Abroad, have the entire calendar year including vacations to complete 25 hours of volunteering per year. None of us have a crystal ball, but we all live in hope that the situation may be significantly better by this coming summer and many things may reopen, including greater capacity for volunteering. We will revisit this and be in touch with all scholars if we require anything additional from you.”

The scholarship is offered to students across the university completing their first undergraduate degree and who have a household income of under £27,500. Those eligible can receive a non-repayable bursary of up to £5,000 a year, and have access to assistance from the Crankstart Scholarship team, Oxford Hub and the University’s Careers Service. Since it was launched in 2012, over 1,000 students have taken part in the programme.

Normally as part of the scholarship students are required to complete at least 25 hours of volunteering across the academic year. These can be in either community projects in Oxford or as part of outreach events for the University, such as open days and advising prospective applicants.

However, this year following the news that England will enter another national lockdown, and confirmation from Balliol College that the university plans to suspend residency requirements for Hilary Term, these demands are being temporarily relaxed. The email sent from the university told scholars: “If you are concerned about volunteering at any point in the year, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us so we can help.”