Nurseries: Frequently Asked Questions

Applications and eligibility

How do I apply for a place in the University nurseries, or a University-owned place in a private nursery?

Read the information about the University's nursery provision, then apply via the online system. 

How do I apply for a place in the college nurseries?

Contact the colleges directly. These are run independently from the University:

I am hoping to get a place as a student here next year. Am I eligible to apply for childcare now?

You can only apply once you've been offered and met all requirements for starting as a student at the University.

My partner and I have decided to start trying for a baby. Can I apply for a nursery place?

No, you can only apply when you are expecting a baby or you have a child.

I've just found out I'm pregnant, but am not yet ready to tell my department. Can I apply?

Yes, we will keep this information confidential.

If I do some part-time paid teaching for the University/I am a University contractor/I am an employee of the NHS and do some work for the University/I am a member of a college or of the University (but not currently an employee)/I used to study here etc Can I apply for a nursery place?

No, you can only apply if you are a current matriculated student of this University or an employee of the University, a college, or Oxford University Innovation. Employees of the University will have a contract of employment with the University of Oxford, and a University Employment Number, and be listed on the University's employee database (we will check this).

If I am an employee of one of the University's associated institutions (e.g. NERC, Maison Francaise, Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies etc) can I apply for a place?

No, as you are not a University employee.

I am planning on attending the University of Oxford Summer Programme (or other such short course), will I be entitled to use the University nurseries?

No you are not eligible.  We only accept matriculated students.

I am coming to the University as an academic visitor for the next academic year. Am I able to apply for the University nurseries?

Unfortunately academic visitors are not able to use our nurseries, as only employees and students of the University are entitled to nursery places and academic visitors are not employees of the University.

I am about to go on sabbatical leave next term, can you tell me what would be the situation regarding my nursery place at the University nursery?

You will either have to continue paying the fees for the whole time you are away, or give up your place with the required notice and re-join the waiting list.

I have informal parental responsibility for my partner's child. Can I apply?

Yes – we make no distinction between biological parents and parents who have adopted/fostered/gained parental responsibility for a child.

Priority cases

My husband is unable to work due to a disability illness. Do I fall into the priority group?

You will need to provide us with further information with your application, first before we can decide this.

Can you make an exception to the allocation procedure, because (for example) I haven't managed to find a place in a private nursery/I have no other family, besides my partner, in Oxford/We don't have a car/I can't afford private nursery care/My childminder has just given notice/My partner travels overseas frequently/My partner commutes to work outside Oxford/ etc

No, we can only make an exception in the case of a genuine emergency need for childcare, such as the illness or death of a parent, or other such wholly unpredictable emergency. If this happens, you should contact us immediately and we will do everything possible to offer you a place. We cannot make exceptions on any of the grounds listed in the question.

I have just found out my child has a disability. Does this affect my application?

Yes. You should inform us straight away, and you will then be considered a priority case.

Will I be considered a priority case if I have had an older child at the nursery.

As stated in the allocation procedure, parents with a sibling currently in the nursery are given priority. Parents must apply to the waiting list for the younger sibling whilst the older sibling is still attending the nursery.

Does my College/Department have a sponsored place?

Check with your them directly.  You will need to apply in the normal way and we will need written proof that your Dept/College wishes to nominate you.

Do staff or students have a greater chance of being offered a nursery place?

Student parents have a priority place on the waiting list.

Waiting lists

What if I decide not to accept an offer of nursery place?

We would encourage you to accept a place which has been offered to you within your preferred choices, as it may be some time before another place is offered. It is important that you keep your application updated via the online application system to ensure that an appropriate offer can be made to you. 

When will I be offered a nursery place?

Please look at the Nursery Information section, above. Note that because the nurseries are oversubscribed, you may not be offered a place for your requested start date and should look at other childcare provision.

Can you please be more specific, as I need to know in order to make a decision as to whether to return to work or not?

Unfortunately it is not easy to predict when you might be offered a place. The length of time on the waiting list is subject to lots of variables, such as choice of nursery, age of child, days and date when a place is required.

Have you received my application form?

You will receive a confirmation email regarding receipt of your nursery application.  This email will continue the necessary information on what you need to do next to ensure that you get onto the waiting list.  Please read this email very carefully.  If you have any queries, please contact Childcare Services at:


Private/non-University nurseries

My child has an existing non University place at The Co-operative Childcare at Oxford, does this mean I am more likely to get a University place there?

No, we follow the standard allocation procedure when allocating all nursery places, but we are sometimes able to offer parents the chance to stay in the same nursery and to use a cheaper University place. So you should inform us if you have a private place at Bright Horizons, Oxford Montessori Schools, Childbase or The Co-operative Childcare.

I've heard that the University owns spaces at private nurseries in Oxford. How can I apply for these?

The University has spaces at nine private nurseries.  Parents can apply for these in the same way as other nursery places by applying online.

Other Questions

What is your complaints procedure?

Write to or email the Head of Childcare Services, Childcare Services, University of Oxford, 92 Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2 7ND. The Head of Childcare Services will initiate an investigation of your complaint and respond as soon as possible.

Can I make an appointment to come in and discuss my baby's welfare/my application/funding etc?

The Early Years Administrator is pleased to discuss your needs on an individual basis. Please contact the Childcare Services Team on 01865 289841, to make an appointment.

I would like my baby to use reusable nappies at the nursery, is this possible?

If you want to use reusable nappies that's fine, but the nursery is not able to wash them. Please note that the nursery fees cover disposable nappies and food.

How do you usually communicate with parents?

By email.

How much notice do I have to give when leaving the nurseries?

You have to give 2 months' notice, in writing, to both the nursery provider and Childcare Services.  The exceptions are the Oxford Montessori Schools nurseries' which require one whole term's notice.

What should I do if my details change (for example, if I wish to change my start date or jobs within the University, or if I go on maternity leave)?

You can make changes to your nursery application online.  If your eligibility to use University nursery provision changes, you must contact the Childcare team.

Who has access to the personal information you hold on me?

Please see the "Confidentiality" section in the Nursery Information section above.

Who can I contact if I have a query about the University's Maternity Scheme?

Your departmental administrator

I would like my child to attend the nursery 5 mornings a week, is this possible?

Children attending the University nurseries are for full days only. We do offer part-time places of two or three days.  There is flexibility in the non University nurseries, such as: Oxford Business Park, Milton Park, Waterways; The Co-operative Childcare at Oxford (formerly known as Turbo Teds); Wolvercote, and Forest Farm. 

I have found a nursery place for my child in another nursery, should I let you know as I no longer require a University place?

Yes, you are able to withdraw your application via the online application portal.  You can reapply in the future if you need to.

I am receiving the government Nursery Education Fund for one of my children at the University nurseries, will this affect the salary sacrifice scheme?

Each nursery provider operates this scheme separately.  Bright Horizons deducts the funding from the cost of the monthly fee, as does Oxford Montessori Schools and The Co-operative Childcare at Oxford.

My child has a disability/special diet/speaks a language other than English etc. Will the nursery accommodate this?

All our nurseries are aware of and positive about children's varying needs. If you have any specific queries please contact the Childcare Services team.