Start-of-term message from the Acting Principal: Trinity Term 2021

20th April 2021

Dear members and friends of St Hilda’s College,

A warm welcome to all at the start of Trinity Term!

The weather is brightening, the blossom on the trees (including on our new planting around the Anniversary Building) is showing, and while temperatures remain cold at present, there is a feeling of cautious optimism in the air that we have got through the worst of the difficult lockdown period.

Covid restrictions continue to affect the day-to-day running of our College. The government’s announcement on 13 April that in-person teaching could not resume before 17 May, except for those on practical or practice-based courses who had been permitted to return last term, was a disappointment. However, it was a welcome development that the government advice allowed for the support of student’s return where necessary ‘for example, where students do not have access to appropriate alternative accommodation, facilities or study space, where students need to return for health or safety reasons or where there is concern for a student’s mental health or wellbeing’. This crucial flexibility has enabled us to welcome back many more students than were in Oxford and in College last term where this is clearly to their benefit.

All students returning to residence are encouraged to collect two lateral flow tests from the Accommodation Office. During term, all students and staff working on-site are strongly encouraged to get tested twice a week, every week via the new symptom-free (LFD) testing centres. There are three centres around Oxford. Go to the symptom-free testing webpage to book, and for more information.  

Our College facilities are not open and running as they were pre-Covid nor yet as they were in Michaelmas Term 2020. Please take care to read the announcements circulated by the Dean concerning arrangements.

  • All teaching remains online unless you are on a practical or practice-based course that has been given permission to resume in-person teaching.
  • Information about Library opening hours and links to the study-slot booking system are to be found on the Library website:
  • The Dining Hall is closed for the service of food until further notice.
  • During 0th week there will be a pre-ordered collection service for lunch. Orders for lunch should be placed though UPAY in the ‘Order Ahead’ section. The system will allow for orders to be placed up to three days ahead. Orders cannot be placed on the same day. The system is also set for delivery; delivery is only available for students who are self-isolating. Staff members should collect their orders from the Marquee (not from the Dining Hall!). Please contact our Catering Manager, Garry Luke, if you have any problems with the food-ordering system.
  • From Monday 26 April (1st week), counter service will resume for lunch and dinner, but in the Marquee, not in the Dining Hall. Breakfast is available to order ahead on Upay and can be collected from the Marquee. Service times and any updates will be advertised on the UPAY site.
  • The JCR and MCR will remain closed until at least 17th May. The SCR is open only for the collection of hot drinks.
  • The practice rooms in the JdP are available for booking for single use.
  • The gym will re-open on Monday 1st week. Only one user will be permitted at any time. Booking required.
  • Please wait for announcements concerning the availability of the College punts.

The latest Covid-related updates for staff and students can be found on the University’s website.

This term the majority of our students will be taking examinations, and this will require us all as a College community to show especial consideration for each other. There will be no sitting of examinations in central examination rooms, no walk down to Examination Schools or up to Ewert House. Most examination candidates will have to sit their papers in their own study bedrooms and examinations will be taking place daily in College from 4th week to as late as 10th week. Signs will be provided by the Academic Office to indicate the corridors where examinations are being sat. Noise-dampening headphones are on order and can soon be obtained on request. Please respect your fellow-students’ need for quiet to study in preparation and to concentrate for long periods on examination days.

The pandemic has transformed our daily lives in College and at the University. For the past year working conditions have been challenging and working hours have for many become very long. I have been struck over the last months by the extraordinary resilience shown by students, who have continued to show energy and ingenuity and the deep desire to learn, as well as by my colleagues who remain absolutely dedicated to their calling as educators and researchers even in these most difficult of circumstances. Teachers whose daily joy it is to interact with their students have been intent on keeping up the intellectual dialogue and furthering their students’ learning when technology is their only means of doing so. Students have been resourceful in finding ways to access material, to carry out the learning tasks set, and to conduct their own research. The College staff, from the porters in the Lodge to the kitchen and catering staff to the buildings maintenance team to the library team daily providing learning resources have shown dedication and not infrequent gestures of kindness and attentiveness to others in order to help each other through the difficulties. This gargantuan effort throughout our entire scattered community has ensured that our mission to provide the best education possible has been upheld.

It is good to be back together again in College in larger numbers than was possible during the winter lockdown, even if some of our community for health or other reasons have to continue to work remotely. Whether on site and in our midst or at a remove and only to be encountered online, all members of our College community need care and respect, kindness and support from each other; our success as a College community depends on these values.

I wish you all a good and a successful summer term and look forward to celebrating your achievements with you when the academic year draws to a close.


Dr Georgina Paul, Acting Principal                                                                                                             April, 2021