New College has asked students to consider withdrawing their application to return to the college during Hilary term after they received more applications than they could accommodate, according to an email seen by Cherwell.

Students were invited to apply to return to the college for Hilary Term if they lacked access to “appropriate study spaces” at home, required “additional support” including for mental health reasons, had been resident in the college over the Christmas vacation, or were an international student whose travel plans could not be changed. However, the college says they received “far too many” applications and would not be able to accommodate them all.

The email, sent on January 8th, asked students planning to return on the weekend before Noughth Week not to do so unless they have pre-booked travel arrangements or “no other choice”. The college’s returns criteria only allows students to return under “the most extremis of circumstances”.

The Home Bursar, Gez Wells, warned that the college would be reviewing the list of students who had applied to return and “reject a number of those who currently have approval”. “I am aware that some applications have been made for social reasons”, Mr Wells continued, “I need to emphasise that the early part of term in Oxford whilst we are under National Lockdown restrictions will not be social in any shape or form, you will remain under the same legal restrictions as you do in your own homes and the College will take a very hard line on rule breakers.” He also noted: “For every student that returns to College, I have to ask a member of staff to leave the safety of their own homes to return to College to support you.”

Students have been invited to withdraw their applications by emailing the Academic Registrar before noon on Monday January 11th. After that, the college will confirm the final list of students who will be allowed to return before First Week. The request has been made to ensure that the limited number of spaces available in college go to the students in greatest need.

Students who return will have their socialising restricted to within their COVID households. Sport will be banned, and alcohol will not be available to purchase through the bar or dining hall. College scouts will continue to clean communal areas, while students are responsible for their own rooms. Catering will be provided in Hall for students who do not have access to kitchens.

New College has been approached for comment.

Image: simononly/ CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons


For Cherwell, maintaining editorial independence is vital. We are run entirely by and for students. To ensure independence, we receive no funding from the University and are reliant on obtaining other income, such as advertisements. Due to the current global situation, such sources are being limited significantly and we anticipate a tough time ahead – for us and fellow student journalists across the country.

So, if you can, please consider donating. We really appreciate any support you’re able to provide; it’ll all go towards helping with our running costs. Even if you can't support us monetarily, please consider sharing articles with friends, families, colleagues - it all helps!

Thank you!