FAQs

The list is not intended to be exhaustive and other sources of useful information such as Oxford Daily Info may provide answers to your questions. If you have suggestions about any information that you have found helpful, please, let us know by emailing newcomers@ox.ac.uk.

The Oxford University Newcomers' Club is not responsible for the contents of any websites to which it has links.

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Useful advice on what to do before you arrive in Oxford, what to do on first arrival in Oxford, general advice on living in Oxford, childcare and schools can be found on the University Welcome Service website.

 

There are many institutions in and around Oxford that offer day time or evening English courses. You will find plenty of information about local English language schools on the internet. It is also a good idea to ask fellow Newcomers about their experience in choosing a good English course.

The Oxford University Language Centre runs a course for teaching English for Spouses and Partners of University Members. This course is intended for any spouses or partners of an intermediate level or above. In order to benefit from the course, you should be able to express opinions on a variety of topics and understand standard spoken English reasonably well, although every encouragement will be given to those who are not accustomed to participating in discussions in English. The class concentrates on improving fluency through discussion of social issues. Participants are welcome to use the Language Centre library to supplement work in the class.

If you would like to improve your basic English before starting the courses at the Language Centre, the British Council Website has online resources which may help. The British Council also provides a list of accredited English language centres here in Oxford that offer English courses for beginners.

The University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education offers many classes that Newcomers have taken and enjoyed.

 

If you are considered to be 'ordinarily resident' in the UK or you have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge as part of your visa application, then you can receive medical treatment under the National Health Service (NHS). For more information please go to https://welcome.ox.ac.uk/healthcare. Information is available for overseas visitors who wish to use NHS. You can search for a particular service (doctor, dentist, hospital) by entering your postcode on the Services near you page.

Fact sheets about the NHS have been translated into a variety of languages and can be viewed on the NHS website.

The Oxford University Graduate Accommodation Office website provides useful information about renting accommodation in Oxford.

Accommodation is expensive in Oxford, and rents of private flats/houses do not include council tax. Full-time students are exempt from paying council tax, but if they have a partner who is not a student then tax is payable.

Advertisements are placed in the local newspaper (Oxford Mail) or on Daily Info. There are also a number of property or letting agencies in Oxford [eg Finders Keepers, NOPS]. Several advertise on internet sites such as Rightmove and Zoopla. You can then Google the individual agencies that have the type of accommodation you are looking for and sign up for e-mail notification when new choices become available. Most agencies will charge a fee for their services and you usually have to pay a one-month deposit and the first month's rent before moving in. 

Please note: if you have an assured shorthold tenancy, the deposit must by law be placed in an approved deposit protection scheme. This independent scheme protects your deposit against your landlord unfairly withholding your deposit at the end of your tenancy. 

More details can be found on the UK Government website; the following link relates to tenancy types but it is easy to navigate from it https://www.gov.uk/private-renting-tenancy-agreements/tenancy-types  
 

 

There are many internet hotspots around Oxford. Public buildings with this facility are listed on the Oxford City Council website, and popular cafes with free wifi can be found on the YELP website.

 

The Oxford Public Library has a main branch at Westgate Shopping Centre on Queen Street. There is also a popular branch of the library in Summertown on South Parade. To get a library card just go to the membership desk and fill out a form. The only identification you need in order to obtain a library card is something with your name on it such as a passport, a bank card or a student ID.

The Bodleian Libraries are open to 'the whole community of the learned' which means anyone doing serious research at the graduate level. If you want to access the Bodleian resources you will need to apply for a Readers' Card.

Full-time compulsory education in the UK applies for children aged 5–16. You will find practical information about available schooling and pre-school childcare at the Oxford University Welcome Service website.

There are many places to go with young children in Oxford, depending on the area in which you are living. We will be updating this section, but here are 2: 

Rainbow House, New Inn Hall Street in the centre of Oxford is open [during school terms only] Wednesdays Thursday & Fridays from 10.30 – 14.00 for children under 5 with their parent[s]

Flo in the Park in East Oxford https://www.flosoxford.org.uk/

 

This section lists a selection of shops selling the main items you will need during your time in Oxford. You will find that several shops sell a broad range of items and could be listed under more than one category. Here, we have concentrated on their main specialism. Hopefully you will find the list useful but you may find alternative convenient, but equally good, shops nearer your accommodation.

Groceries can be bought at supermarkets such as Sainsbury'sTescoThe Co-OperativeAldiMarks & SpencerWaitrose.

The smaller city centre branches of Tesco and Sainsbury's only sell groceries and smaller household items but they both have superstores situated outside the Oxford ring road where they sell a wider variety of household goods and also clothing. Many of these supermarkets sell groceries online and you can have the shopping delivered to your doorstep for a small additional cost. Ocado is an online-only supermarket that has been gaining popularity in the UK in the last few years.

The Covered Market in the city centre, originally established in 1770, contains a variety of small shops selling a wide range of products. These include fresh meat, fruit and vegetables, bread, dairy products, and also clothes, gifts and a range of domestic items.

For specialist foods, including Asian, Middle Eastern, Organic, Free Range, Farmers' Markets and Farm shops, the Oxford Daily Info guide and the Oxford City Council website have detailed lists.

Shops specialising in soft furnishings including bedding, curtains, cushions: DunelmWilko.

Household hardware and electrical items : Robert DyasExtra HardwareCurrys. Basic kitchen appliances such as kettles, toasters, microwaves, etc. can also be found at Tesco Direct and Argos*.

Electronic equipmentPC World (Curry's).

General household itemsArgos*, Robert DyasWilkoGeorge at AsdaB&MSavers. If you are hoping to buy in the cheaper price range, generally speaking, a good place to start is the Templars Square Shopping Centre in Cowley.

There are a few shops that specialise in clothes for pregnancy and clothes, equipment and toys for babies such as JoJo Maman Bébé; however, maternity wear can often be bought at general women's clothing retailers and many other shops sell items for babies, including BootsGeorge at Asda, and Superdrug.

Creative crafts and hobby shops include Hobbicraft, and The Oxford Yarn Store. In Headington there is a charity scrap shop called Orinoco where you can pick up free paint and buy scrap for craft and DIY projects.

Dispensing pharmacies (to buy prescription medicines) are situated in most areas of the city. The largest pharmacy in the centre of Oxford is Boots on Cornmarket Street. Superdrug in the Westgate Centre sells non-prescription medicines.

Stationery can be bought at RymanW.H.Smith and Poundland.

Furniture within Oxford can be bought as self-assembly packs from Argos* and B&M.

In addition, there is a large number of charity shops throughout the city. These sell second-hand items donated to the charities which include clothes, household items, toys, books, and sometimes furniture and small electrical items. The Emmaus charity superstore in Barns Road has a big range of donated furniture.

Online sites where you can look for second-hand items for sale include Gumtree and eBay. Other sites where you can find items given away free include Freegle and Freecycle. Freecycle also allows you to advertise for items that you are looking for.

*Argos is a catalogue retailer where customers browse through the Argos catalogue, select items to purchase, pay for the items, and then collect the items from the in-store collection desk or have the item delivered to their home. It’s not a traditional shop in the sense that you can’t see the actual items for sale on display.

 

Walking is probably the best way to get around in Oxford. Excellent pocket-sized maps are available at all the local bookshops including Blackwells and Waterstones, both located on Broad Street.

Bicyles are also a common form of transportation. The Tourist Information Centre on Broad Street has maps of cycle routes. Information for cyclists, including cycle safety, can also be found on the Oxfordshire City Council website and Useful Links page.

Oxford has two bus companies, Stagecoach and Oxford Bus Company. Both of them are privately owned and compete on routes and schedules. The Oxford City Council provides free bus passes for older people. You can check if you are eligible for one on the UK GOV website.

 

The Oxford Tube provides a direct coach service from Oxford to the city centre of London. Coaches depart from Oxford Gloucester Green bus station up to every 10-15 minutes during daytime. There is also a train service from Oxford rail station to London Paddington Station operated by First Great Western. If you do not plan to go during rush hour and are able to book well in advance, you will be able to get very good deals on your train tickets.

The Oxford Bus Company Airline goes to Heathrow, Gatwick and Birmingham Airports. Coaches from Oxford to Stansted and Luton Airports are operated by National Express. Times and fares are available on their websites.

For general travel information see www.traveline.info.

 

Many Newcomers find the time to volunteer while in Oxford. Here are two sites that list volunteer opportunities: OCVA and Do-it.

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