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University responds to latest government announcement

Charlie Hancock reports on the latest arrangements the University has put in place for Trinity term.

Charlie Hancock
Charlie Hancock
Charlie is reading Human Sciences at Hertford College. After working as a News Editor and Deputy Editor, she was co-Editor in Chief with Jill Cushen for HT22.

The University of Oxford has confirmed their plans for Trinity term, following an announcement from the government which would allow students to return after the Easter break.

Teaching will take place online and in-person, with the start date of in-person teaching differing across courses. For undergraduates, a small number of students will have ‘catch-up teaching’ in Week -1. For most courses allowed to return, especially science subjects including practical elements, in-person teaching will begin from Week 1 on April 26th.

The University will not be able to confirm dates for students on non-practical courses until the government releases further guidance around Easter. Postgraduate research students are not affected by the government’s announcement and can continue to conduct research on-site.

Residency requirements will not be in place for Trinity term. However, the University still encourages students to return to Oxford. Since government guidance allows students to return from March 8th, which falls at the end of Hilary term, some taught students may also be able to return from that date to access facilities such as libraries – if they meet certain criteria.  This will be from March 8th for taught postgraduates, and April 12th for undergraduates. Communication from the University stated: “In line with Government guidance, as well as returning for in-person teaching, you may also be permitted to come back to Oxford if you need access to facilities such as libraries and study space. These needs are likely to be particularly acute if you are nearing the completion of your degree, with important submissions and final assessments in the next term. Therefore, taught postgraduates in their final year, including those on one-year Masters programmes, may be able to return from 8 March; and undergraduate finalists may be able to return from 12 April.”

Colleges may allow individual students to return before their course begins in-person teaching for welfare reasons.

International students will be “supported to return in time to take part in in-person teaching where necessary”. Students from countries on the government’s ‘red list’, such as Brazil and Portugal, are advised not to return “unless you have substantial in-person teaching commitments”. Colleges will not be able to routinely cover the costs of quarantining for students from ‘red list’ countries who do return, which currently costs £1,750.

International students who have not travelled from ‘red list’ countries will have to isolate in their college for ten days on arrival. Students must agree this with their college in advance.

All students will be “expected” to take a lateral flow test upon arrival at the University, and another three days later. Students “should not take part in in-person teaching” until they have report two negative test results.

Once in Oxford, students will be expected to abide by the Student Responsibility Agreement, even if they have already had COVID or have been vaccinated. Although some restrictions will be eased over the course of Trinity term, the email warns “here will continue to be significant restrictions on what we can and cannot do for some time”.

Responding to the latest announcement from the University, the Oxford SU released a statement, saying: “We welcome the University communication to you today and we encourage you to read it carefully. We are pleased to see the University have outlined the expected timeline for return to Oxford for postgraduate taught and undergraduate finalists, remember to confirm you plans with your college before planning your travel. We continue to work with the collegiate university to develop plans for the return of students in line with government guidance”.

It continued: “The University’s website has also been updated with new information including around returning to Oxford and support provided. We would like to highlight that whilst the university and colleges will not routinely cover travel costs, ‘in some instances where the costs of testing or quarantine are a contributory factor in student hardship, it may be possible for some support to be provided from the University’s COVID- 19 Hardship Fund.’ 

“Over the past few days and weeks, we have spent hundreds of hours and 50+ meetings lobbying the University and colleges on key issues affecting students. We would like to thank staff across the collegiate University for working with Oxford SU to ensure student views and voices are at the heart of decision-making…  

“We know this remains an incredibly tough time for students and we stand in solidarity with you. We understand your frustrations following the recent government announcement. We remain committed to working with the collegiate University to secure the best university experience for you. We are working with the University’s student experience group and partners across the colleges to put in place plans for Trinity Term including sport, drama and social opportunities.”

Students are advised to wait for further information from their colleges and departments. The latest updates from the University can be found here.

6/03/21, 12:33 – “Postgraduate students are not affected by the government’s announcement and can continue to conduct research on-site” was updated to “Postgraduate research students are not affected by the government’s announcement and can continue to conduct research on-site”.

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