COVID-19 Student Support Fund

A hallmark of alumni giving at Christ Church has been the continuity of student support. Donations towards helping students during their time at the House - and thereby making the most of the many opportunities that we are able to offer - have led the way in the collegiate university. In fact, the House spends more on student support and on access and outreach activities than any other college. We have also helped pioneer, through significant funding, the Target Oxbridge programme, which supports talented Black students in applying to Oxford and Cambridge.


Image of Christ Church Upper LibraryWe are now asking our alumni, friends and supporters to help us with our COVID-19 Student Support Fund. Over the long vacation, and as we prepare to reopen the college and welcome students to the House at the beginning of Michaelmas Term, it has become clear that the amount and quality of support we need to provide will be markedly different than before. For a start, a number of students’ family circumstances have changed as a result of the pandemic’s economic impact and we are already witnessing a rise in requests for financial assistance.


In areas of learning support and teaching, the pandemic has encouraged us to find new ways of engaging with our students and pursuing the scholarship for which Oxford is renowned. However, additional resources to support students both at home and in college are required.


For instance, students coming from abroad are having to quarantine for two weeks before arrival and many are likely to have to stay in residence over the vacations in future, in order to avoid further periods of quarantine. In other cases, students are requesting help to cover unexpected travel costs related to disrupted schedules due to the pandemic. We have also had more students than usual expressing worries about meeting their basic accommodation and meal expenses.


Some Freshers have endured a substantially dislocated end-of-school experience, and it is anticipated that they may need to access additional teaching and learning resources upon arrival. We are also making provision for additional mental health support for students who would benefit from extra care at a very stressful time. And some of our Graduate students and Junior Research Fellows may need extensions in order to finish research disrupted by the pandemic.


While Christ Church already sets aside substantial sums for student welfare and support, we are anticipating additional demand of at least£40,000, and probably more depending on how long the current situation continues.


Safety within Christ Church is paramount - putting in place arrangements to allow for social distancing, regular deep cleaning and sanitising, installing special partitioning within communal areas – and this requires extra funding. Just one example is the likely need for a UV-light air-sterilising machine for the Upper Library, as the library has so many historic surfaces that ozone cleaning may be the safest way to manage sanitisation.


Arrangements have also been made to provide safe distancing within all Library areas. This inevitably results in the need for additional study space. To that end, we will be using the Upper Library, the Exhibition Space, the JCR and GCR, and possibly the Thatched Barn as additional study spaces with socially distanced seating. Additional expense comes with the need for invigilation and the regular cleaning of these areas, amounting to some £10,000 per term.


Image of students sitting in Christ Church MeadowWe are also providing safe social spaces for our students. We were one of the first colleges to address this important aspect of student life by erecting a large marquee within the Masters’ Garden with an outdoor bar. Here, Junior Members will be able to meet one another before and after meals in a well-ventilated, but protected outdoor setting. It will also allow our many student clubs and societies to have a safe place to meet given the current prohibition on holding indoor gatherings amongst students living in different housing ‘bubbles.’ Hiring and heating the marquee is expected to cost approximately £15,000 per term – and we are currently assuming that we will need to keep the marquee for both Michaelmas and Hilary Term.


These are just some examples of where the House has had to adapt to the demands of the pandemic. We are thus hoping to raise new funds to match the extra expenditure of at least £90,000. Because the future is uncertain, Christ Church is committed to supporting our community of students and scholars at all levels. The fact that this can happen at a time when there is enormous demand on the institution’s finances, but income streams have been severely curtailed, is testament in no small way to your previous generosity. Thank you.


We are disappointed that we cannot see you, or bring you together at events at the moment, in order to explain what we are doing and thank you for your support in person. But for now, these emails must suffice. Nonetheless, the sincerity of our appeal is no less deep, and the needs about which we write no less real.


Should you be able to help support our students during this very challenging time, we encourage you to help make a difference now.




If you are a UK taxpayer please remember to tick the box to add Gift Aid to your donation.  If you are a US taxpayer you can make tax-efficient gifts via the American Friends or contact Cindy Monty. For further information, please contact Teresa Midwinter, Database Manager.