University lays out plans for Trinity Term teaching

Image description: a view over Radcliffe square

In an email circulated to students today, the University has laid out an update of its plans for the remainder of the academic year, in light of recent Government announcements. This includes the confirmation of the return of some in-person teaching from 8th March.

In the email, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, Martin Williams and Miles Young, the Chair of the Conference of Colleges, said:

“At Oxford, teaching will generally take place within normal term dates, whether it be online or in-person.”

He continued:

“When in-person teaching restarts will depend on your course and level of study.”

The University has also confirmed that, due to the fact the 8th March date falls at the end of Hilary term, teaching will continue to take place online for the remainder of the term, for all undergraduates who have not currently resumed in-person teaching. A small number of students are also to receive in-person ‘catch-up’ teaching from 12th April, prior to the start of Trinity term.

Further, there will be a resumption of in-person teaching from 1st Week of Trinity (Monday 26th April) for ‘some other courses’, especially those which are ‘practice-based’ and have a ‘practical element’.

There will also be a number of taught postgraduate courses that will return for in-person teaching from Monday 8th March, again, the Univerisity has prioritised those ‘practice-based’ courses. All students on ‘non-pratical taught courses’ will not receive exact dates for returning to in-person teaching until the Government review in Easter.

Individual departments will be in contact shortly to offer further confirmations on a course-by-course basis. Postgraduate research students will not be affected by this announcement and will be able to continue their on-site research as before.

On returning to Oxford, the University has re-affirmed its commitment to waive the residency requirement for Trinity term, though they do ‘encourage’ students to return when in-person teaching begins.

In a statement, the SU has said:

“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 your plans with your college before planning your travel.”

The statement continued:

“We¬†continue¬†to work with the¬†collegiate¬†university to¬†develop¬†plans for the¬†return of¬†students¬†in line with¬†government guidance.¬†On¬†your return to¬†Oxford,¬†we¬†strongly encourage you to utilise the¬†Lateral Flow Device testing.”

The SU were also keen to emphasis that those facing difficulties, for example in funding travel costs, should explore their options through the University’s COVID-19 Hardship Fund.

They further cite a number of ‘wins’ they have achieved on behalf of students, including the re-scaling of exam marking, a revised mitigated circumstances process and the lifting of the residency requirement for Trinity Term.

On the issue of returning to Oxford, the University have thus far only been able to say that finalists at both undergraduate and postgraduate level ‘may’ be able to return from 12th April and 8th March respectively.

The email also said:

“We realise that for those students on non-practical courses who are not covered by the exemptions above, it will be disappointing not to get more clarity on when you can return to Oxford at this stage. However, we are committed to reviewing our arrangements as soon as possible after we get more guidance from the Government, and we remain hopeful that a wider student return will be possible in Trinity term. “

International students are to be ‘supported’ for their returns, though those who ‘do not have much in-person teaching scheduled’ are told that they ‘may wish to take advantage of the residency exemptions for Trinity term’. Those who are currently resident in countries on the UK Government’s ‘red list’ are ‘advised’ to take advantage of the residency exemption, unless they ‘have substantial in-person teaching commitments’.

Students from these ‘red list’ countries will not ‘routinely’ have their costs of quarantining from returning (estimated at ¬£1,750) met by either the University or their college.

Those who are currently resident in Oxford are not to move from their term-time address, in accordance with Government guidance. This includes the Easter vacation, though further support is to be made available ‘shortly’.

In concluding their statement, the SU said:

“None of these changes, comments and collaborations could’ve been made without the collective voice of student leaders across the university and colleges. We receive countless emails from our members who have helped us shape our approach in university meetings.”

They continued:

“We encourage you to continue¬†reaching out to us, to help us¬†represent you¬†and¬†to enable us to¬†work in partnership across Oxford to¬†improve¬†your experience.¬†Do not hesitate to get in touch with us to discuss any concerns you may have, on¬†any aspect of your experience at Oxford. We are here to support¬†and¬†represent you.”

Colleges and faculties are expected to offer more tailored advice shortly.   

Image credit:  Sidharth Bhatia via Unsplash