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The University have today updated their guidance regarding students returning to Oxford for Hilary term. It outlines that all students except those with particular exemptions are asked not to return to Oxford until 25th January, in line with revised government guidance.
Exemptions will be made for those meeting the following criteria:
- those who have remained in Oxford over the Christmas vacation
- international students who have have booked travel which cannot be rescheduled
- those requiring additional support, including experiencing mental health difficulties,
- those without access to appropriate study spaces or facilities at home.
For those who do not meet one of these criteria, the university have stated that “you are asked not to return to Oxford until you hear from us again”. Teaching will remain online for all but medical and initial teaching training courses until 25th January. Taught postgraduates are included in this guidance, although postgraduate research students are exempt. Further guidance is expected next week. International students from outside the government travel corridor will still need to self-isolate and are encouraged to contact their colleges regarding the arrangements for this.
In a statement, the Student Union have welcomed the recent University statement, and have said that they are in regular contact with senior leaders, and will continue to highlight concerns at key university groups in the coming days and weeks.
Regarding rent, the SU Sabbatical Officers noted that following the announcement “we expect colleges to provide further updates to their students including around accommodation”.
“Our view is that students unable to return to Oxford in Hilary Term 2021 should not be financially penalised; students should not have to pay for accommodation that they are unable to live in.”
They further emphasised the difficulties facing student this year: “This year remains incredibly difficult for all students and this must be recognised by the University in their academic expectations of students.”
Following the introduction of the continuation fee grace period for Postgraduate research students, the SU Officers stated that they “look forward to working with the University to ensure student learning and assessment isn’t disadvantaged due to the pandemic”.
The Sabbatical officers also wrote to emphasise the need for prompt and open communication from colleges, and wrote that they were “pleased the university have committed to updating student next week shortly after key decisions are made”.
Information about Oxford SU’s free, independent and impartial advice service can be found here. The service will open again on 4th January. Information about the University’s covid hardship fund, which you can apply for if your finances have been affected due to the ongoing pandemic, is available here.
The full SU statement can be found here.
Image Credit: Lawrence OP