Christmas Vacation Arrangements for Undergraduates

Pembroke will remain open during the Christmas vacation for students who need to stay in residence because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

The government is suggesting a travel window for students to leave University and return home between 3rd and 9th December. We will continue to plan for term-time accommodation contracts to end on Saturday 5th December. Any changes to this, and any information about pre-departure covid testing which the government is suggesting may take place, will be communicated to you as soon as it becomes available.

Students may stay in residence beyond 5th December, provided you have let the Accommodation Manager know of your intention. If you are leaving College for all or part of the vacation you may leave belongings in your room, but please leave it tidy so that scouts can access to clean. 

Note that it is our expectation that all students who leave College and return will do this only once during the vacation period, as per government guidance on travel to and from term-time addresses.

For those who remain in College, catering will be provided, seven days a week, including on Christmas Day and other bank holidays. Full details of mealtimes will be provided at the end of term to those who are staying. The precise arrangements will be discussed with the JCR, but we anticipate a similar offering to term time.  

We will have to apply accommodation and food charges for those who stay in College, but a hardship fund will operate in parallel. Accommodation charges will be levied at the relevant nightly rate for your room band, for any nights in residence outside your contracted period (up to a maximum of 39 nights for those on term-time contracts who stay for the whole vacation). 

Catering will be charged at £6.60 per day for all students on main site/Rokos Quad from the date when your Michaelmas Term meal plan expires. Opening of student kitchens in these areas will be assessed when we know how many students are likely to be in residence over the vacation.

The Lodge will remain open and post/parcel deliveries will be received as normal. Scouts will continue to clean communal areas in College. The Library will remain open, with some adjustments to arrangements (information to follow), and welfare support will be available.

If you leave College for the vacation and will be travelling back in January from outside the UK please see the Government’s information about whether you will need to self-isolate on your arrival. You will be able to spend this period in College accommodation, and catering support will be provided if required (with rent and catering charges applied as outlined above), but you must plan to return on Saturday 2nd January in order to fulfil this requirement before the beginning of full term. You should bear in mind that the government requirements for isolation may change before the end of December, so you need to keep yourself up to date as well as looking out for updates from College.  If the isolation requirement leaves you in financial difficulty please see information about College harship for vacation needs.

Whether you intend to stay or leave College during the vacation you must complete the Student Vacation Intentions form by 10pm on Thursday of 6th week, 19th November. It is important that we have some indication of your plans right now – even if they change subsequently. Without this critical information we cannot give clarity to College staff about work requirements, and they too wish to spend time with their families.



I need to stay in College but will struggle to afford the domestic charges.  What should I do?

The College has hardship funding available for those in your situation.  Complete the Student Vacation Intentions form to tell us – this includes an application for funding support.  You will hear the outcome of your application at the end of 7th week and can then confirm your plans.

I would like to return home and also visit friends for two separate periods during the vacation and your form only allows me to enter one set of dates. How do I make sure I am only charged for the correct nights?

We ask that you leave and return only once during the vacation.  Note that current government guidance does not allow students to move between home and term time addresses except at the end/start of terms.  If you have an exceptional circumstance please fill in one set of dates and then contact the Academic Office to discuss your specific needs, which we will accommodate if allowable.

If I take an end-of-term covid test and get a positive result do I have to stay in College beyond the end of term to isolate and what should I do?

We are waiting for further information about whether the government will provide end-of-term testing for students and, if so, how that will operate.  If you take part in this and receive a positive result the College will continue to support you.  We will provide more detailed information once we know more.

Do I have to take an end-of-term test before I can leave College to go home?

The details of the government’s end-of-term testing are not yet clear and we will keep you updated as we receive more information.

I am an international student and require a negative covid test result before travelling to my home country.  Will the government’s end-of-term student testing meet this need?

This is not yet clear.  The tests to be used are not the same as those currently used by the NHS and elsewhere.  More information will follow later in term as government provides clarifications but you may also want to consider use of private facilities (eg via Boots or at Heathrow airport ).  Note that you should not book a test at the University’s existing Early Alert Service or through the NHS for that purpose – neither route will provide the necessary paperwork for you to travel.

I live out of College and my housemates are leaving Oxford for the vacation but I am unable to. Can I move into College temporarily?

If we can help we will, but at this point we cannot guarantee that rooms will not be needed for students arriving early for Hilary Term, and of course everyone is being permitted to leave belongings in their room.  However, it may be the case at the end of term that a small number of rooms become available, so you can register your interest with the Accommodation Manager in case she is able to help nearer the time. 

I am the only person in my current College household who needs to stay during the vacation. Can I form a different household with some friends who are staying in order to have a social support group?

Once we know of everyone’s intentions we will consider options for reallocating households, but will have to take into account government guidance and public health advice.  We will give more information at the end of term depending on the prevailing situation at that time.  Whatever we decide to do this will be a ‘virtual’ rather than physical move (to allow for students leaving belongings behind in their rooms).

I live out of College and have to stay in Oxford for the vacation without housemates. Will I be able to pay to use College catering facilities in order to have some social support during the period?

We will not be able to provide support to those who live outside the College under current public health guidelines, but we will keep this under review.

I live in College and am on the flexible meal plan. I need to stay for the vacation. Can I opt to continue my flexible meal plan?

No.  To keep things simple for everyone, and recognising that we may not be able to open Farthings café for some if not all of the vacation period, the only option for those on main site/Rokos Quad will be the catering offering which is yet to be finally decided, with input from the JCR.  The daily charge for this will be £6.60.  If you have been on the flexible meal plan in Michaelmas this expires on Friday of 10th week, 18th December, so the daily charge will be levied from 19th December.

I am an international student who will need to return to College in time for the government-mandated period of isolation before term. However, I cannot get a return flight for 2nd January – can I come back on a different date?

We will be flexible and understand this difficulty but please contact the Academic Office to discuss your situation so that we can make suitable arrangements.  We would strongly advise that you do not attempt to travel over the New Year holiday (before 2nd January) when public transport options will be very limited.