Census 2021 - why it’s important and how to complete it

11 March 2021

Census 2021 logo - purple writing on a white background

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) explains why the census is important and how you can complete it:

The census is an important national survey that takes place every 10 years and provides a picture of all the people and households in England and Wales. The census is unique. There’s simply nothing else that gives so much detail about us and the society we live in.

All students are an important part of the census and students need to be counted at both their term-time and home address.

We understand your circumstances may have changed during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. So, although you might not be living where you normally would be when at university, you must complete the form with your normal university address.

Please complete your census on Sunday 21 March 2021 or as soon as possible after. You must complete the census by law or you could be fined up to £1,000.

Why is it important for you, as a student, to fill in the census?

By taking part in the Census 2021, you’ll be helping make sure you and your student community get the services needed now and in the future. The information you give informs decisions that affect student life, such as university campus bus links and bike lanes, jobs and training. Therefore, it is key that you complete the form for your university address.

If you are in halls of residence

If you are currently living in a hall of residence, you should request an access code to complete an individual census questionnaire. Your code will be sent to you by text.

Please use the postcode for your halls address to obtain an access code. If you are not able to find your room address on the census website, you should use the main address of the building that you live in. If you are still not able to locate your address, further instructions are provided on that page of the census website.

If you are living in a privately owned shared student house or flat

You and your housemates should receive a letter containing the access code needed to fill in a household census questionnaire online. If the household has not received this letter or cannot access it, you need to request a new access code.

The household census questionnaire includes some questions about the accommodation and sections about each individual who usually lives there.

You can answer separately from your student household if you’d prefer to keep your answers private. You can request an access code to fill in an individual questionnaire.

This year, for the first time, the census includes two new voluntary questions on sexual orientation and gender identity. If you're LGBTQ+ and not 'out' to the people you live with or would like to keep your personal information private from your household, you can request an individual access code for the census. This will allow you to replace any personal information submitted collectively by your household via the online form. No one in your household will be notified of your changes.

The accommodation questions on the household census questionnaire must still be completed even if some household members complete individual questionnaires.

If you are at home or elsewhere due to the pandemic

You may currently be living at home or elsewhere because of the coronavirus pandemic but would usually live in Oxford or Swindon during term-time. If so, you will need to be included on your current household census questionnaire as well as completing the questionnaire for your university address. You can request an access code for your term-time address.

If you are an international student

You should be included in the census if you're:

  • staying in Oxford or Swindon now and have stayed, or intend to stay, in the UK for at least three months
  • not currently in the UK but attended in person during the current academic year (2020/21), and still have a formal agreement to be able to stay at your term-time address

You should order an access code for your term-time address.

If neither of the above circumstances apply to you, you do not need to do anything.

Visit the Census 2021 website for support

For more information on the census, or if you need help, go to www.census.gov.uk/students. There are a wide range of services available, including translations and accessible guidance.