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A guide to Matriculation

Written by Eleanor Sanger, posted on Thursday, October 12, 2017

Students in Sub FuscMatriculation is another one of those weird Oxford terms that you might hear either before you arrive in Oxford or once you've been here a few days. According to the University's website, Matriculation 'confers membership of the University on students'. But simply put, it's basically a ceremony where you, and hundreds of other freshers, are officially admitted into the University. It’s one of Oxford's many traditions – and it's all part of the charm.

If you’re a new student at Oxford, whether at undergraduate or graduate level, you should be matriculated. A full list of all the people who should be matriculated is available here – but it’s something college will arrange for you, so don’t stress out trying to work out whether you should or not.

A matriculation photo being takenYou tend to matriculate at the start of Michaelmas in your first year – Matriculation takes place on the Saturday at the end of first week, once you’ve already had Freshers’ Week and a whole week of teaching. There are other ceremonies during the year for if you miss this one, so don’t worry if you’re ill or not around for any reason – but you must matriculate within two terms of starting your course, or you won’t be able to take exams. Which might sound like a good thing, but definitely isn’t!

Matriculation is one of the events that you’ll need to wear sub fusc for – see this handy guide we prepared earlier for more info on what you need to wear. You’ll begin in college, where you’ll be registered and will have to confirm your attendance, and you'll also have a group photo of everyone from your college who's matriculating in this ceremony. Students in sub fuscAfter this, you'll progress up to the Sheldonian Theatre as a college group, led by the Deans of Degrees, with all of the rest of the other new students. Once you get there, you’ll queue up outside for a while, and then you’ll head inside and take your seats alongside several other colleges that will be in the same ceremony.

The ceremony itself is actually quite short – there’s some Latin, but you don’t have to take part in any way (it’s not a test you have to pass!), so you can basically just enjoy the proceedings before you’re let out of the Sheldonian again and can emerge into the Oxford sunshine as a fully-fledged member of the University.

Students in sub fuscAfter Matriculation the entz reps at your college will organise some kind of celebration or club night for you, which is a nice way of getting together as a college year group to mark what is essentially quite a big thing. Although you’ll have already been at Oxford for a few weeks, this does officially mark the start of your membership of the University - and it can be pretty amazing to think of all of the thousands of previous students and famous alumni who've sat through the same ceremony as you at the start of their time at Oxford.

And the next time you’re sitting in the Sheldonian in your sub fusc will be for your degree ceremony, by which time you’ll be older, wiser, and probably just a little bit sad that the Oxford experience is coming to an end. So make the most of Matriculation, and the years that follow it – being a member of the University is a pretty unique experience.