Return to College Testing

In line with Government guidance and for the safety of our environment, any student returning to College after the Christmas vacation must be tested for COVID-19.

This is incredibly important for stopping the spread of the virus and will help to protect the College community, your household as well as domestic staff, on whom we all depend.

For those given permission to return to College, these tests will be placed in your room prior to arrival and for those who live out, or have stayed in residence over the Christmas vacation, you may collect a test from the Lodge – unlike the Christmas Travel Tests Programme, there is no need to book a test kit.

Please be aware that you should not take the tests if:

•        You have symptoms of COVID-19: You should instead book a PCR test via the Early Alert Service, inform the Lodge that you have booked a test and follow the advice you are given.

Important note: If you choose not to be tested, you will be required instead to self-isolate for 10 days from your arrival. You must send an email to and immediately to let us know you will not be taking the tests so we can arrange the relevant support for your isolation period.

Note for international students: These Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests cannot be used as part of the government’s ‘Test to Release’ scheme. 

Information below will guide you through the most frequently asked questions. For those of you who took part in the Christmas Travel Test Programme, there are some slight differences to the process of taking these tests so please take the time to familiarise yourself with the process.

We are here to support you so as always, please reach out and speak to us if you cannot find the answer you need or if you have any concerns.

Booking A Test

Do I need to book a test?

No, a test kit containing 3 tests will be in your room on arrival in college. If you live out, or stayed in residence over the Christmas vacation you can collect a test from the Lodge.

Taking the Tests

When should I take the tests and what do they mean?

Test 1

You should take your test as soon as possible after you arrive in Oxford. Or, if you stayed in residence over the vacation, you should take your first test on the 2nd January.

Full online training is available to support you taking the tests and you can contact one the team for support if you struggle using

You should limit your social contact and interaction with others until you receive the result.

If the first test is negative, you should continue to be cautious until you have taken your second test. This means limiting social interactions.  You should not take part in in-person teaching (if applicable for your course) at this stage.

If the result is positive see below.

Test 2

You should take your second test three days after your first test. This is because the first test may show negative even if you are incubating the virus. A second test is then more likely detect the infection if that is the case.

If your second test is negative, you can take part in in-person teaching (if applicable to your course).

Test 3

You should take your third test 7 days after your second.

The third test will help us to identify any infections that might have been acquired since your last test. 

If you continue to follow the behaviours outlined in the University’s health advice and Student Responsability Agreement, the chances of you testing positive on your third test should be low.

How long do Lateral flow Device (LFD) tests take to do?

The tests are very quick to complete, and will provide a result within 20-30 minutes. Full online training can be found here.

How do the tests work, and do they cause any discomfort?

The tests detect viral proteins made by replicating virus. It involves using a plastic kit to swab your nose and throat. This can be slightly uncomfortable but this shouldn’t deter you from getting tested.

I was offered training and support for the tests in-person before Christmas. Why is this not available in Hilary term?

The model that has been adopted in Hilary term is has been identified as the simplest method to roll out multiple tests to all students on their return to Oxford. Full online training is available to support you taking the tests and you can contact one the team for support if you struggle using

I have a disability which means I am unable to take the tests in the way they have been offered to me. What should I do?

Please speak to us.

You can contact one of the team by email using or if you feel more comfortable, you can also speak to the Academic Office.

I have recently received a negative test result. Do I still need to take these tests?

Yes, you should still take all three tests provided to you on your return as you may have unknowingly picked up the virus after your negative result.

I am in precautionary self-isolation, can I still take the tests?

Yes. If you are already self-isolating or go into self-isolation, because a household member or recent close contact has tested positive in a PCR test (via the Early Alert Service or through the NHS), you should still take your Lateral Flow Device (LFD) Tests.

How can I be sure that the tests are accurate?

These tests have been extensively validated both here in Oxford and in Public Health England laboratories. Those who test positive will have their results confirmed through the University Testing Service.

Does taking part in the return to Oxford testing programme and testing negative mean I don’t need to take any precautions?

Three negative tests means that the chance of you being infectious is very low, but not zero. Remember you could also catch the virus just before your second or third tests or in the days afterwards. You must continue to respect social distancing, use your face covering and wash hands regularly. 

I have returned to Oxford, but now have developed symptoms of COVID-19 (new continuous cough, high temperature or loss/change of sense of taste/smell).  What should I do?

You should immediately self-isolate, book a test through the University’s Early Alert Service and notify the College via the lodge. 

If you develop symptoms prior to the 4th of January, when the Early Alert Service re-opens, you should immediately self-isolate alert the Lodge and book and NHS test.

Who do I contact if I have any questions relating to the testing?

Please contact

After Taking the Tests

One of my test results is inconclusive, what do I do?

If your test is inconclusive you will need to collect another test kit and retake the test. Do NOT record the initial inconclusive / void result. Instead do the test again and then record that result.

You can collect replacement test kits from the Lodge, but will only be able to do so if you have taken the training and used both of your given tests. 

Recording your results:

It is crucial that you record the result, via the Early Alert Service form, of each test immediately after the result is visible. This will help the University and the NHS to understand how the virus spreads, helping to protect the community and the College to put measures in place to prevent the spread.

What happens if I test positive on any of the tests?

If you test positive in any of your LFD tests, you must record this via the Early Alert Service form, inform the Lodge, self-isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test through the Early Alert Service and continue self-isolating until you know the result.

If you have returned prior to the 4th January, you will need to book a confirmatory test through the NHS service as the EAS service is closed.

What happens to my household if I, or another household member tests positive on any of tests?

If a member of your household or a close contact tests positive in an LFD test, they will need to take a confirmatory PCR test. You should self-isolate as soon as you become aware that your close contact has received a positive LFD result.

You should continue to self-isolate until that person has received the result of their PCR test (but continue to take your LFD tests as planned).

If your close contact’s PCR test result is negative, you can stop self-isolating at that point.  If It is positive, you must self-isolate for 10 days.

If you live in College accommodation we will assist you with this process and with information and support via our Isolation Coordinator.

Can I use the results of the tests as proof that I am negative for the virus as part of the Governments ‘Test to Release’ scheme?

No, the tests we are providing you with on your return cannot be used as part of the governments ‘Test to Release’ scheme.

If you have returned from a country that is not on the travel corridor list. You should self-isolate for ten days but you can take these tests to give yourself piece of mind whilst you isolate.

You will need to contact and make arrangements with a private provider directly to be able to take part in the ‘Test to Release’ scheme. Information on providers can be found on the government website.

Where do I dispose of the used testing kits?

Please bag the kit using the clinical waste bag you were provided and dispose of this in one of the drop off points in College once you have completed all three tests.

There is a drop off point outside the Pichette Auditorium, outside the Lodge and at the GAB in the laundry room. Do not leave testing kits in your waste bin.

International Students

How do I access the Government’s ‘Test to Release’ scheme?

The University cannot provide tests to allow you to leave self-isolation early after international travel under the Government’s ‘Test to Release’ scheme. You will need to contact and make arrangements with a private provider directly. You should follow the directions on the Government website which also includes a list of eligible private providers. Please note that we understand that demand for these services is high, and you may want to contact a provider ahead of time and book early if you wish to take advantage of this scheme.