An Update From Your Elected Sabbatical officer at Oxford SU: New National Restrictions

The new national restrictions being put in place this week will, of course, be of concern to students, staff and the wider community.  

Our priority, as always, is to represent and support students to improve the overall student experience at the University of Oxford. Over recent days we have met with and will continue to meet with senior University leaders and attending a range of University planning meetings including Education Steering Group and University Council. 

Residence in Oxford   

We understand that some students may be considering leaving Oxford ahead of the implementation of the new restrictions on Thursday. If you are in this position, we encourage you to reach out to your college and department/supervisor to discuss the implications of this decision for your teaching and wellbeing.  

Here’s what we know: 

  • The current Tier 2 advice regarding moving home is here. This will change when the new restrictions go into effect on Thursday. 

  • If you wish to leave Oxford before the new national restrictions or you already have done so, you should apply for an exemption from the residency requirement. More information on how to do this can be found here.  

  • The residency requirement for postgraduate research students is more flexible. If you are a PGR student, check this page and consult with your supervisor to see if you need to apply for a residency exemption. 

  • The applications for individual dispensation (exemption) from residency will first need to be submitted to your college, or to your department if you do not have a college. They will then be forwarded to the proctors for final approval. 

  • You can leave Oxford without having received dispensation from the residency requirement, however you should check with your college/department as your educational provision may be affected. 

  • Remember to follow government guidelines regarding movement and self-isolation. 

It is our view that students who choose to do this should not face academic detriment due to their inability to attend in person activity or financial detriment due to breaking college accommodation contracts. We will lobby the collegiate University to ensure that all students who are not in Oxford do not miss out on any key aspects of their course.   

Staying in Oxford 

For students staying in Oxford we understand that university libraries, parks and gardens will remain open for students. We are calling on colleges to urgently clarify and put in place provision to ensure key services such as libraries, welfare services and catering remain available in line with government guidelines. Your Sabbatical Officers will be meeting with the Chair of Conference of Colleges, Miles Young, tomorrow to raise these concerns and to gain more clarity on how colleges will support students during lockdown. 

Christmas Vacation 

We are aware there is significant uncertainty regarding the Christmas Vacation and provision in place for students looking to stay in college accommodation during this period. We will continue to call on colleges to ensure that: 

  • Students who want to stay over the vacation may do so. 

  • Key provisions such as catering, libraries and welfare support remain available. 

  • Where possible, a ‘Christmas reshuffle’ of households in college is done to reduce the risk of students feeling isolated over the vacation. 

Student Life 

It remains our view that students should not be treated differently to other members of the public. We will be pushing to ensure any changes to University or college guidance reflects this. 

Welfare 

This is an incredibly tough time. We’d encourage you, as always, to prioritise your mental health and wellbeing and seek support. Check out resources from Mind and Student Minds with a range of information on looking after your wellbeing. Oxford SU’s independent and impartial advice service can provide help if you have any individual concerns. 

We are actively lobbying and working closely with the collegiate University to support students with targeted welfare support. We have recently secured a new University Mental Health Taskforce to tackle these issues, and you can read our aims for the Taskforce here. 

Activities 

We are working with partners across the University to understand the impacts of the new restrictions on student activities like sports, clubs and societies, and will provide further updates soon. We’re already talking to partners across the University about a range of events and activities to be put on for students during the lockdown period. 

The latest information from the University on Coronavirus is at https://www.ox.ac.uk/coronavirus  

How can I help? 

We know many of you may be interested in helping to support the community of Oxford through this difficult time. 

You can get involved with the local community programmes which have volunteer roles available: 

Oxford Mutal Aid 

Oxford Together 

Let us know what you think:  

We are working with the University to operate an ongoing feedback survey which will be reviewed regularly both by Oxford SU and the University. You can fill this out at any time, as many times as you like at: https://oxford.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/student-feedback  

You can also contact us via email, see below for our details. 

Rest assured at this critical juncture, we will continue to ensure that student welfare and the welfare of the whole Oxford community will be at the forefront of all University decisions. 

Best wishes, 

Nikita Ma – President 
president@oxfordsu.ox.ac.uk 

Tucker Drew – VP Access and Academic Affairs 
vpaccaff@oxfordsu.ox.ac.uk 

Ben Farmer – VP Charities and Community 
vpcandc@oxfordsu.ox.ac.uk   

Lauren Bolz – VP Graduates  
vpgraduates@oxfordsu.ox.ac.uk 

Amelia Holt – VP Welfare and Equal Opportunities 
vpweo@oxfordsu.ox.ac.uk   

Alex Foley – VP Women 
vpwomen@oxfordsu.ox.ac.uk 

 

Who are the Sabbatical Officers?  

We’re a team of 6 students elected annually and in post for a year from July-July. We work full-time at Oxford SU (yes, we’re paid too!) to represent students and campaign on a range of issues. You can see what we do on our website and if you think it sounds fun, look out for the annual elections in February when you can run to be a Sabbatical officer for 2021-22.