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BREAKING: University releases new guidance for returns

Cherwell News reports on the updated University guidance.

The University has sent out updated guidance to its students in light of the announcement that students on non-practical courses that were not already exempt will be unable to return to teaching until the 17th of May. Students have been asked to remain at their term-time address if they return to Oxford unless they have a legal reason to do so, in line with government guidance. This comes after PresCom has asked the Conference of Colleges to consider implementing a standardised self-certification policy under which students would be able to self-certify for returns.

Students studying non-practical courses may be able to return if it is “necessary to support the continuation of [their] studies”, including preparing for in-person examinations. Students may also be able to return if they lack access to appropriate study facilities at home, or need to return for safety reasons – including wellbeing and mental health. The updated guidance says that students can request to return “even if [they] have previously applied and were not given permission”. The University has also highlighted that “if you do return to Oxford, current government guidance then requires you to stay at your term-time address throughout the term unless you have a legally permitted reason to leave.”

Exams that are already planned to go forward in-person will be going ahead, and the University has highlighted that for students with these exams, “preparing to take part in-person assessments is a valid reason for returning to Oxford.” Over 30 exams are planned to take place in-person in Trinity, although 15 of these remain subject to confirmation in light of updated government guidance.

The suspension of the residency requirement for Trinity means that international students who choose not to return to Oxford may continue to study in the remote. This advice applies in particular to students from ‘red list’ countries, and the University and colleges will not “routinely meet the costs” of PCR tests and quarantine costs, which currently stands at £1,750. Students on the red list have been advised “to take advantage of the residency exemption, unless you have substantial in-person teaching commitments.”

Oxford SU have also released their response to the announcement, stating that they are “continuing to call on all colleges to allow students to ‘self-certify’ and return to Oxford if exemptions apply to them.” The updated statement also condemned the government, stating that “We recognise that students have made considerable sacrifices this year and we are extremely disappointed the Government have decided to leave students in these uncertain conditions when their final exams are rapidly approaching.” The SU went on to call on the collegiate University “to fill this vacuum of leadership,” as well as highlighting the work of JCR presidents in lobbying for students. 

The SU went on to outline their response to the University’s updated policies, stating “We are pleased that students will be able to request to return even if you have previously applied and were not given permission. We hope that in reviewing these applications, colleges will view students through a lens of compassion and empathy, as we believe that too many students fell through the cracks last term.” Colleges are expected to release their own updated policies and communication over the “next few days” if they have not do so already.

16/4/21, 10:28 – updated to include the SU’s statement. 

Image Credit: Yoonsuh Park via Unsplash

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