Remaining students able to return to Oxford’s universities
With the Government’s confirmation that all remaining students can return to in-person teaching from Monday 17 May, Oxford’s universities are now preparing for more students to return to the city.
At Oxford Brookes University and the University of Oxford, the vast majority of undergraduate students will have completed their teaching and assessments by 17 May.
It is not anticipated that large numbers of students from Oxford Brookes will return to the city, as the University will have reached the end of its main academic year. The small number of students who are likely to return to campus include Postgraduate Taught students, students with ongoing placements and those with semester 3 programmes.
Professor Anne-Marie Kilday, Pro Vice-Chancellor Student and Staff Experience at Oxford Brookes University, said: “We are pleased to be welcoming more students back to campus next week. The safety of our staff, students and the wider community remains paramount in all of our plans, and we’ve invested heavily in measures to make sure our campuses are Covid-safe. As restrictions ease further it’s important we remain vigilant, and we’ll be reiterating the Covid guidelines and behaviour expectations to all of our students.”
The change on 17 May comes at a point in Oxford University’s term when many courses will have finished teaching for the academic year, and social-distancing constraints will remain in place meaning that large group teaching and lectures are likely to remain online. However, where feasible, departments and colleges may be able to offer in-person teaching to students. The majority of examinations for Oxford University students will take place online.
Professor Martin Williams, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Education) at Oxford University, said: “We want to help students make the most out of their final term at Oxford after such a difficult year. However, while the outlook is more optimistic and restrictions are gradually easing, the pandemic is not yet over and we need to continue working together to prevent case numbers rising again.
“Students will be expected to get tested before returning to Oxford and on arrival, and from 24 May lateral flow test kits will be available to use at home or in college, and the symptom-free testing sites will also be available.”
Measures to prevent transmission
Those returning to Oxford will be asked to take three Covid-19 tests on arrival, wear face coverings where appropriate and abide by safety measures. Both universities have COVID-secure arrangements to ensure in-person teaching can take place safely. These measures have been in place since the start of the academic year in order to help 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.
Both universities are also offering twice-weekly rapid Covid-19 tests at their on-site test centres. In addition to this, students will be able to collect home testing kits from university testing centres.
Maintaining safety for students and the community of Oxford
Ansaf Azhar, Oxfordshire County Council’s Director for Public Health said: “Both of our universities are very well-versed in handling the returns and departures of students given the experience of the last 14 months. They have routines and procedures in place that will maintain high levels of safety for students and therefore for the people of Oxford and the wider county. They keep in very regular contact with each other and liaise with all of the councils, the police, the NHS and other public bodies. This means that their approach is embedded into the general ongoing local response to the pandemic. We have confidence in the rigour they will bring.”
Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council, said: “Our city welcomes the return of greater numbers of students. Students are an integral part of our communities, businesses and culture. I want to thank our two universities and their students who have contributed to the local, national and global effort to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and have also worked incredibly hard to minimise the virus risk within the universities and to the wider community. Residents can be reassured that appropriate measures are in place to manage the return of students, and we welcome them back as another sign that our city is getting back to normal.”