Council Matters: update from the February 2021 meeting

Council 8 February 2021


Council noted the main points of a paper setting out the principal actions being taken in light of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. In summary, these were:

Student fees and funding

Although students from the EEA and Switzerland would no longer be eligible for home fee status with effect from the 2021 academic year, there are exceptions for students from the Republic of Ireland, and for some categories of EU nationals, subject to residency requirements and confirmation of settled/pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. Please visit the Oxford and EU website for full details.

While Oxford has seen its applications from EU students for undergraduate courses starting in October 2021 fall by 23%, EU applications for postgraduate study have seen a modest increase so far. The relevant University bodies are considering the implementation of scholarship schemes for overseas (including EU) students.

Erasmus+ and the Turing scheme

The UK secured Associate Status for the Horizon programme; however, it lost its membership of the Erasmus student exchange programme. The UK’s proposed Turing scheme requires further clarity. Broadly, it will fund outward travel for students at UK universities to pursue their studies both within the EU and further across the world. Current Erasmus students will be unaffected.

European staff members

The enormous contribution of EU staff members, whether research and academic staff, to Oxford’s reputation as a leading international research university was noted.  The University is looking to support EU applicants not already in the UK whose strong commitment to working at Oxford is evidenced by the additional hurdles they now face in their applications. 

Extensive efforts continue to be taken to inform current and new EU staff of the issues related to obtaining work visas, including offering immigration advice so they can take appropriate action to minimise the consequences of working abroad after the pandemic.


Council received an update on planning for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, which included postponement of the REF submission deadline to 31 March 2021 due to the pandemic. Results of a preparedness survey looking at all 31 Units of Assessment (UoA) had been better than expected. Council also noted the update on the Code of Practice.

COVID communications

It was noted that the University’s communications around COVID-19 had generated much public interest. There had been 5.3m hits on the University’s COVID research website in 2020, 1.9m visits had been made to the staff and student information pages, and the COVID-19 media campaign had generated five times the amount of coverage than those from the next top five institutions combined.

Rhodes Professor

Council has approved the proposed re-naming of the Rhodes Professor of Race Relations to the Professorship of African Studies, on the recommendation of the Social Sciences Division and the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies. In keeping with heritage of the Chair, which has been focused on Africa, the object of the Professorship will also be changed to giving instruction in African Studies rather than in interracial relations. The proposal has now been submitted to Congregation. 

  • Please note that this communication complements the information available about the meetings of Council, the University’s executive governing body, on the Council website (behind SSO).
  • The information available on the Council website includes meeting agendas, papers, decision notes and minutes (please note that the minutes are not posted until after approval at the following meeting).