Nursery Information and Application

On these pages you will be able to apply for a University nursery place and/or amend an existing application. 

Nursery Map 2016 (420kb)  

Who may apply

Only the following groups are eligible to apply for a place:

  • University employees, including joint appointments (but not employees of other organisations working within University departments);
  • matriculated students;
  • employees of any of the University's Colleges;
  • and employees of Oxford University Innovation.

If you work part-time, you are only eligible for a part-time nursery place. Those with a FTE contract of 0.80 or above will be able to access full-time (5 day) childcare or part time (4 day) childcare at University nurseries. Those with a FTE contract between 0.55-0.79 will be eligible for three days and those with a FTE contract between 0.35-0.54 will be eligible for two days.

Academic visitors are not eligible for University childcare, however, applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis, please contact the Head of Childcare Services.

Applying for a place

If you would like to apply for a University nursery place, please complete the online application form via the Childcare Services portal (existing staff or students only) using your Single Sign On Logon (SSO).  If you subsequently wish to make amendments to your application -i.e. change to nursery choices, requested start date etc. - please do so via the same link. 

If you are seeking a nursery place at one of the Oxford Montessori Nurseries you will also need to complete an online Oxford Montessori application form. If you are seeking a nursery place at one of the Childbase nurseries, you will need to complete their registration process in addition to our online application form. Please contact Julia Durbin or Sandfield nurseries for further details.

Please note your SSO is required to apply to use University nursery provision.  If you have any difficulties using this service please email

How do I know you have received my application?

You will receive an email confirming the safe receipt of your application. Please follow the instructions in the email carefully, for example if we ask you to provide evidence of your eligibility for a University nursery place, please send this to us at your earliest convenience. Whilst on our waiting list, you will receive a twice-yearly email to remind you of the need to keep your application details up to date. You will also receive monthly updates from our Bright Horizons nursery team, if you chose to opt in to these newsletters.

Changing your application and/or contact details

If you wish to make changes to your application, please do so via the Childcare Services portal: online application, it is important that you update your application if your requirements change in order for us to make an accurate and timely offer when a place becomes available .  You can also make changes to your contact information.  It is very important that we have up-to-date contact details for you.  If we are unable to reach you within a reasonable time (i.e. three working days) to offer you a nursery place, we will assume you no longer want a place and will offer the place to another parent.

Visiting the nursery

If eligible to use University nursery provision parents can arrange to visit nurseries provided they phone the nursery and arrange an appointment with the management team.

Sponsored Priorities

Some colleges and departments participate in the University sponsored priorities scheme which enables them to nominate staff or students for a priority place on the nursery waiting list. You can ask your college or departmental administrator if they have such a priority and whether it is occupied.

Allocation procedure

There is a long waiting list for childcare and Childcare Services therefore operates a priority system for the allocation of places. The priority groups are:

  • Parents or children with a disability;
  • Sibling priority - applies where an older sibling remains in attendance on a University nursery placement;
  • Sponsored priority - where a college or department has nominated an applicant for this scheme; 
  • Student priority.

Exceptions to the allocation procedure

In the case of a genuine emergency need for childcare (such as the serious illness or death of a close relative) an exception to the allocation procedure may be made. If this is the case, you should email the Head of Childcare Services.

Information on the waiting list

How does Oxford’s nursery provision compare with other
Russell Group HEIs?

Whilst the numbers on the waiting list are high, in terms of total numbers of nursery places available, Oxford offers significantly more provision than most other institutions. Overall places available to staff at Oxford total 430 FTE, 332 FTE of which are in the University nurseries. Overall, just under 500 children attend one of the nursery places provided by the University.

The number of places provided by the University based on a nursery place/staff ratio is 1: 31, compared with a Russell Group average of 1:61.

A further 75 FTE places are available at Oxford College nurseries, although these are managed independently from University provision and have not been included in the ratio analysis. Approximately 30 University families are supported in the College nurseries.

Fees at The University of Oxford nurseries are currently the sixth lowest of all childcare provision at Russell Group Universities.

When will I be offered a place?

Given the relative cost and quality of our childcare provision our service is extremely popular and as such, we cannot guarantee a nursery place to every applicant. However, we endeavour to accommodate as many staff and student parents as we can across our thirteen locations/430 nursery places. Any individual’s experience of our waiting list will vary significantly depending on individual requirements – age of child, desired booking pattern and nursery choice. The average waiting time is currently just 35 days between requested start date and taking up a place. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with your specific requirements and we can help point you in the right direction - we have oversight of where space may be available and always try and offer an alternative if we cannot meet your needs initially.

Our nurseries are deliberately kept at maximum occupancy to ensure that as many people as possible benefit from a nursery place. However, this means that until we receive leave notices from existing parents, we are unable
to offer new placements.

Many parents contact us to ask for their position on the waiting list. Whilst it is understood why this is requested, the information in itself may not be that helpful. The waiting list is dynamic and a position can go down as well as up (if those with higher priorities than you subsequently apply). As such, giving out waiting list positions can lead to false expectations. Additionally, you may be very high on the waiting list but until there is a place available that meets your preferred nursery choices, attendance pattern etc., you could stay in that position for some time.

Turnover and peak nursery offers

There is generally a turnover of approximately 50% in the University nurseries each year. The vast majority of movement takes place between May-September as the eldest children leave our nurseries to move on to school.

Contact the Oxfordshire Family Information Services (OXFIS)
for help and advice if you are not able to get a place at the University
nurseries or for additional information on childcare and child-related

When you will know if you have a place

We will contact you as early as possible if you have been offered a place. This is normally done by e-mail as and when a place becomes available.

In order to minimise delays, parents who are offered a place will be given three working days to accept a placement and return the contract and administration fee, otherwise the offer will be withdrawn. Therefore please ensure you have visited your preferred nurseries prior to the requested nursery start date.


All information about you will be processed in accordance with the principles of the GDPR and related UK data protection legislation and will only be seen by the Childcare Services team and nursery providers. It will be used only for the purpose of nursery provision, and will not be disclosed to others (including your department/college) except in accordance with GDPR and related UK data protection legislation.