Following the announcement that university students will be able to return under the previous exemptions outlined despite the return to national lockdown, colleges have provided varying responses.

Merton has urged its students to stay at home, stating “if you are able to continue to work from home satisfactorily then you should do so.” Merton has advised that having other members of a family working in the home or not having a desk in a student’s room “are not, in and of themselves, reasons to return.”

Students currently resident at Merton, whatever their course, have been asked “to return home for this period of lockdown” wherever possible, despite this being listed as one of the exemptions under which students may remain in Oxford.  

At different colleges, different processes of approval for return have been put in place. At Balliol, students require exceptional permission from the Welfare Lead and Domestic Bursar, and stressed that they “will have very tough criteria for agreeing any applications, given the importance of minimising the further spread of the virus in Oxford.”

University College’s rejection email for students applying to return to Oxford is brief: “I hope you and your family are well at this time. The decision has been made by The Bronze Team to decline your early arrival application on the basis of current information. I am sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you”.

Christ Church highlighted in their communication that “an imminent academic submission deadline […]  is not a permitted reason for an early return exemption.” Students returning to Christ Church have been asked to submit a new request through their pandemic communication email. At St Hugh’s College, requests are to be re-submitted and approved by the accommodation manager.

At Mansfield College, requests must go through the Senior Tutor. They highlighted in their guidance to international students that they “strongly recommend that you cancel your flight unless there is a pressing welfare reason for you to return.”

Image Credit: Tom Ord. Licence: CC BY-SA 2.5.