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Self-isolation for international students: How has your college responded?

Government guidance means that students travelling from certain countries overseas will have to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival in the UK. Following Oriel College’s controversial decision to charge international students self-isolating there before term over £700, including a nearly £30 per day food bill, Cherwell has conducted an investigation into colleges’ self-isolation policies for international students.

Colleges have varied widely in their approach to rent over this period. Some colleges, including Hertford, Magdalen, Queen’s, and Worcester College, have opted make accommodation free, while others are charging at their normal termly rate.

Food provision has been another point of difference. Some colleges, such as Balliol, have opted to use the third party Compass Catering to provide meals to isolating students – at a cost of around £18 per day for three meals. Other colleges are opting to provide meals in house or are giving students facilities to cook. Students at St. Anne’s and Oriel will face a total bill of over £500 for the 14 day period.

When students must arrive by and where they will be housed also differs, from graduate blocks to term time rooms. Finally, some colleges have emphasised welfare support to those isolating. New College has designated specific locations within college for students to exercise. St Peter’s College has organised daily welfare checks and afternoon activities.  

See how colleges have responded below.

Balliol College: Students self-isolating before term are encouraged to return to college by 15th September. Students will be charged for the full cost of two weeks of rent for the room they have been allocated. Hot meals can be purchased from Compass Catering, at a cost of £15 per day plus 20% VAT for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Orders must be made 72 hours in advance and are charged to students’ battels. Takeaways and shopping can be delivered to the lodge, providing students can find a non-isolating friend to deliver it to them as porters will not be delivering to rooms.

Brasenose College: Students who need to quarantine are encouraged to arrive by 19th September and will be charged standard rates for their room band. Isolating students may spend 30 minutes per day in the quads if wearing a face covering. Meals may be catered from Hall, though it is unclear whether students can have takeaways and shopping delivered.

Christ Church: Students travelling from outside the UK should arrive back in Oxford by 15th September at the latest. Students will be provided with catering facilities and a small group of student helpers will be around to assist with shopping and food deliveries. 

Corpus Christi College: No information yet.

Exeter College:  Overseas quarantining students are encouraged to arrive from 14th September. Students will typically be allowed to isolate in their term room, with the same rent price as during term. Meals can be collected from the Servery at the usual cost or from an ‘external contractor’.

Hertford College: Those who must self-isolate before term have been asked between 7th and 13th September. They will receive rooms in the Graduate Centre/Folly Bridge, moving into their term time room once the 14 day isolation period has finished. Quarantine accommodation comes at no charge to students.

Jesus College: Students can arrive as early as 7th September. Isolating students will be provided with an ensuite room. The catering team will provide three meals per day to the door, provided that students pre-book. The meals will be charged to battels, but details on accommodation costs were not specified. They also suggest renting an Airbnb or getting food deliveries from Tesco or Ocado.

Keble College: Students can arrive at any point provided that they leave enough time to finish their isolation period before the beginning of term. Three meals per day can be delivered to the door, if desired, at the cost of £18 per day. Grocery deliveries are also possible. Keble accommodation is almost exclusively ensuite, and students will be housed in their term rooms, at the cost of £5 per night. Financial support is also available for struggling students.

Lady Margaret Hall: No information yet

Lincoln College: No information yet.

Magdalen College: Students who need to quarantine have been asked to return on September 7th, 10th, 14th, or 17th. The cost of accommodation will be automatically covered by the Student Support Fund, so there will be no additional rent cost. The email made no mention of food provision.

Mansfield College: No information yet.

Merton College: According to the college’s website’s FAQs on coronavirus, provision of food, accommodation, and regular visits from the welfare team. Prices are not mentioned. 

New College: Self-isolating students must have completed their quarantine period by the beginning of their term time lease in October but should also not complete it before their lease is due to start. Accommodation for this period will be charged at £22.12 per night plus insurance until 1st October, when it will increase to £23.04 per night. This means the minimum rent cost for the 14 days is £310.10. Students may only leave their room to exercise on college grounds or to collect food deliveries from the Porters Lodge. Food provisions were not specified. 

Oriel College: Read our article here. International isolating students will be charged a flat cost of £400 for food over the two weeks for three meals per day, which breaks down to just £9.52 per meal or £28.57 per day, batteled. The total cost including accommodation is over £700. Students must arrive by 18th September. There are “some funds” available for anyone in financial hardship. 

Pembroke College: Students should arrive ideally by 20th September, but by the 23rd at the latest. Rooms will be priced according to the room band, and students will be batteled for the extra 14 day residence period. Food will be ‘available’ but exact arrangements were said to depend on the accommodation type. Anyone in financial hardship can contact the college as usual.

Queen’s College: Those who must quarantine before term should arrive on 20th September. They will be housed in ensuite accommodation. Food parcels will be provided to students on arrival and then can be ordered online. All charges, including rent and food, have been waived by the college, but there is still funding available to support any students with financial problems. 

St Anne’s College: Students should return to college on the week of September from the 12th to the 19th. They will be given ensuite rooms that will be deep-cleaned by scouts once the isolation period is completed. Hot meals will be delivered to the room. The total cost including food and rent is £548.10. Anyone who may struggle from the cost is urged to contact the Treasury.

St Catherine’s College: No information yet.

St Edmund’s Hall: No information yet.

St Hilda’s College: No information yet.

St Hugh’s College: Students should arrive between the 14th and the 17th. There is a flat charge of £350, covering both ensuite accommodation and food for the 14 day period. Once students have finished their self-isolation, the rooms will be deep-cleaned ready for term-time students. 

St John’s College: No information yet.

St Peter’s College: After checking into college, students who must self-isolate will be directed straight to their allocated accommodation where they must remain for 14 days. They must have arrived by 19th September. Students will isolate in their term time room and be charged rent at the normal daily rate. St Peter’s Kitchens can deliver hot food to student’s doors for £14 per day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Compass Catering can also supply three meals for around £18 per day. If other food deliveries are arranged to mainsite, a non-quarantining friend will be required to collect it from the Porters Lodge. Outdoor areas have been assigned for exercise. Daily welfare checks will take place during the isolation period. Academics and students will be running activity programmes in the afternoon. Anyone in need of financial support should contact the Student Finance Officer.

Somerville College: No information yet.

Trinity College: No information yet.

University College: International undergraduates should arrive from the 14th to the 17th September. The accommodation will be charged at £20.61 a night, the lowest normal nightly rate. Students isolating on arrival will be grouped into households. Non-isolating students have been given the option to volunteer for “delivering food” and “providing support” to the international students in exchange for free accommodation and meals during that time.

Wadham College: International undergraduates should arrive between the 14th and 16th September. Students will be able to purchase food boxes from the college. Accommodation will be made available ‘where possible’ to isolating students. ‘The charge for vacation residence will depend on site and arrival date’. Students can apply to the hardship fund. The college did not reply to further enquiries about cost.

Worcester College: All students, regardless of whether or not they have to quarantine as they have come from abroad, have been allowed to return to college early at no cost. The college decided to revert its previous decision to charge for the self-isolation period following concerns raised by the undergraduates. 

If your college is missing and you have information, please contact [email protected].

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