Students set to study online as Oxford’s two universities will deliver learning online for most students until at least mid-February, in line with the national lockdown across England.
The majority of students at Oxford Brookes and the University of Oxford have been asked not to return to Oxford, except for those studying specific courses relating to medicine, health, education and social work.
Students who do return will be asked to take free and fast tests for COVID-19 to minimise the risk of transmission, and to protect the health of students, staff and the wider community. Where in-person teaching does take place, both universities have COVID-secure arrangements to ensure it can continue safely.
These measures have been in place since the start of the academic year helping to contain the virus, and prevent further transmission. They are kept under constant review to ensure they meet the latest government guidance and advice from Public Health England.
At Oxford Brookes University, the semester will start on 25 January with remote teaching for the majority of students, except for those on specific courses. Face-to-face teaching for most courses will not begin until 14 February at the earliest.
Professor Anne-Marie Kilday, Pro Vice-Chancellor Student and Staff Experience at Oxford Brookes University said: “Our first priority is the health of our students, staff and the wider community in Oxford. This is a challenging time and we all have a part to play in slowing the spread of the virus. I want to thank our staff for their ongoing efforts to minimise risks, support students and ensure they can continue to learn effectively.”
The University of Oxford’s Hilary term will start on 11 January, with most students learning online. The University will continue to operate, but museums and other buildings will be closed to the public.
Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council said: “The universities are at the heart of this city, I want to thank them for moving so fast to ensure the safety of staff, students and residents in this latest lockdown. They have been thorough and proactive at managing the risk throughout this pandemic, I wish them and their students a safe and productive term through lockdown.”
Martin Williams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Education, at the University of Oxford said: “While very important for stopping the spread of COVID-19 the national lockdown will change how universities operate. We have been planning for scenarios such as this for several months, and remain confident that we can continue to support our students, and protect the health of our wider community in the weeks ahead.”
Some students may return to university accommodation in Oxford if they do not have suitable study space where they currently live, or for mental health reasons.
Ansaf Azhar, Director for Public Health in Oxfordshire said: “We have worked in strong partnership with our colleagues at Oxford’s universities throughout the pandemic and this continues as we enter the new lockdown period. We have been kept fully briefed of all key decisions. The universities are such a huge part of Oxford’s day to day life and our collective efforts in managing the local impacts of the pandemic will continue throughout the difficult weeks ahead and beyond as we deal with further developments throughout 2021.”