The Unofficial Guide to

Oxford for Spouses &
Partners
Welcome to Oxford!

This city and university are old, beautiful and often
complicated to navigate. While new students have an
automatic welcome and support system courtesy of university
orientation or college-hosted events, there is no easily
accessible infrastructure for spouses and partners. However,
this guide will help you take advantage of the resources that
are available throughout the university and the city. There is
information about college and university resources for spouses
and a basic introduction to various the stores, transportation
and other services available around the city. Hopefully this
guide will help ease your transition to living in Oxford!

University & College Facilities
for Spouses and Partners


The University of Oxford Newcomers’ Club – This club, which has weekly coffee meetings at
the University Club on Mansfield Road, is an essential first stop for any spouse or partner new to
Oxford. The Club’s mission is to provide orientation and social events for spouses and partners of
university affiliates.

The Opportunities Group, a subgroup of the Newcomers’ Club – This subgroup of the
Newcomers’ Club is for spouses and partners of Newcomers who would like to find a job, look for
volunteer work, change career, start a business or develop professionally in any other way. The
group meets several times during term to have sessions on CV-writing, British job interviews, the
voluntary sector, career change, time-management and many more issues, often with a guest
speaker. It also has a close partnership with the university Careers Service. Jutta Vogenauer
organizes the group. You can contact her at jutta.vogenauer@careers.ox.ac.uk.

Your partner’s college MCR committee – Colleges put on a series of orientation events for new
students during “Fresher’s Week”—the week before class starts. The Middle Common Room
(MCR) is the student association for graduate students within the college. It will organize most of
these events. While it is often not explicitly stated, MCR’s and the committees that direct them are
often happy to have spouses and partners accompany new students to various college events.
You or your spouse or partner should locate an MCR committee member and ask them which
events you can attend both during Fresher’s Week and throughout the year. Furthermore,
spouses and partners are often eligible to become “associate members” of an MCR—this often
comes with access to college facilities and greater access to college events.

The Oxford University Student Union (OUSU) – All students at Oxford are automatically
members of the student union. While its primarily role is to represent and advocate for students’
rights within the university, it also offers a number of services and guidance to students. This
includes a wide range of services for students with spouses, partners and families. The OUSU
officers who work most often on issues facing students with spouses and partners are the
Graduate and Women’s Officers. If you have any questions or concerns about university policy in
this area, you should email them.

The OUSU Mature Student’s Campaign – A student at Oxford is considered ‘mature’ if he or she
begins an undergraduate degree at age 21 or older or his or her postgraduate degree at age 25
or later. OUSU’s Mature Student’s Campaign to help meet these students’ needs and make sure
the university does as well. The campaign offers mature students guidance, hosts meetings to
discuss the issues they face and hosts social events specifically aimed at mature students.

English Classes for Spouses at the Language Centre – Not only new to Oxford, but also new to
an English-speaking country? The Oxford University Language Centre offers classes at a variety
of levels especially for spouses and partners of university affiliates. These are by far the cheapest
classes in town! Get in touch early to reserve your spot.

The Oxford University Careers Service – The career services offer a number of services that
Grocery Stores
Tesco –Tesco is your go-to grocery store for pretty much anything. The prices are mid-range and
there is a wide-range of products. There are a number of locations around Oxford and there is
also a handy home-delivery service available. Home delivery is a great way to buy in bulk and not
have to haul groceries home on a bike!

Sainsbury’s – Sainsbury’s is similar to Tesco although often slightly more expensive. Some argue
the prepared food from Sainsbury is better than that available from Tesco. Once again, there are
locations all around Oxford.

Waitrose – Waitrose, arguably the fanciest British grocery store, is not common in Oxford. The
only store is in Headington to the east of the city centre. However, they also have a home delivery
service and—for a premium—often the best produce and prepared foods.

Marks & Spencer’s – The “Food Hall” at M & S competes with Waitrose for the top of the grocery
league table. There are number of stores throughout Oxford—most notably on Queen Street in the
city centre. It probably has the best wine selection of any of the grocery stores.

The Covered Market – The Covered Market is an amazing traditional market in the very centre of
the city. It is home to a number of wonderful butchers, a pasta maker, green grocers, the Oxford
Cheese Company and the only independent retail baker in town. It is definitely worth a trip for the
food stores and other restaurants and shops it houses.

Aldi – Aldi is a German discount grocery store that often guarantees the lowest prices in town for a
range of products. There is only one Aldi in town; it is on the Botley Road to the west of the train
station.

Asda – Competing with Aldi, this store is Wal-Mart’s brand in the UK. It offers a wide-range of
products, including groceries, gifts, tyres, etc. The only Asda in town is fairly far to the southeast
of the city centre.

Furniture and Housewares Stores

Boswell’s – Right on the corner Cornmarket and Broad Street is Boswell’s. As Oxford’s “largest
independent department store” it has everything from a pharmacy to luggage to linens. It is
always convenient, but not always the least expensive.

Robert Dyas – The only hardware store in the city centre, Robert Dyas is also home to some of the
most random stock. Don’t think you can find it in Oxford? Just pop into Robert Dyas to make sure.


Some Practical Stuff
Furniture and Housewares Stores (Cont.)

Argos – Argos is unique to the UK. Either online or using their paper catalogue, you reserve the
items you want to buy and then go to pick them up from the store. Their stock includes a wide-
range of furniture, linens, digital cameras, jewelry and anything else you can think of. Particularly
for furniture, it is often the cheapest option. There are two Argos stores in Oxford, one on New Inn
Hall Street in the centre and one on the Botley Road.

Oxfam – There are a number of Oxfam and other charity shops all around Oxford. They are a great
place to find home décor, vintage clothing, and other second-hand items all at a good price and
for a good cause! It is also a great place to donate unwanted items.

Poundland – Poundland is located in the Westgate Centre, a shopping mall where there is a range
of useful stores. As the name suggests, everything is only 1 pound. It is a great place to buy
laundry detergent, body wash and other non-perishable items. They also have candy and
inexpensive party and holiday decorations, which can come in useful for college and other events.

Getting to and from Oxford

Coaches to London – There are two services that operate regular service to London 24 hours-a-
day, 7 days-a-week: the Oxford Tube and the X90. They terminate at Victoria Station, just south of
St. James’ Park.

Trains to London (and other places in the UK) – Oxford has a train station that is directly linked to
London (by many trains a day), Birmingham and other cities around the UK. To see train schedules
and reserve tickets go to http://www.nationalrail.co.uk. Also, railcards are available for many
people and offer significant discounts on travel.

Getting to the Airports – The Airline provides regular bus service from Oxford to Heathrow and
Gatwick. The quickest way to get to Luton and Stanstead is via London.

Getting around Oxford

Oxford Bus Company – Oxford is a highly walk-able city, but if you live outside of the centre or
are travelling to a location outside of town, there is good bus service throughout Oxford area.
However, be warned, buses are run by a private company and can be expensive.

Bicycles – Bicycles are the primary form of transport for many Oxford residents, students and
otherwise. There are a number of ways to buy a bike. Summertown Cycles and Cycloanalysts are
a couple of particularly good bike shops that sell reasonably affordable new bikes. There are a
number of mobile bike salesmen that resell refurbished used bikes—they include the Oxford
Bicycle Company and Back on Trax. Colleges often host bike sales a few weeks into first term.
They sell the unclaimed bikes in their bike rooms. If you buy a used bike that has not been
refurbished at one of these sale or perhaps on Gumtree, it is a good idea to take it to the Broken
Spoke bike coop for inexpensive and expert help fixing it up. The Broken Spoke also gives bike
riding and repair lessons!

Family and Friends Coming to Visit?

College Rooms – One doesn’t always have the time, space or will to have family and friends stay in
your home. Most colleges allow students (so ask your spouse or partner) to reserve inexpensive
rooms in college for their family and friends. However, you should reserve these well in advance!
If you can’t get a room in your partner’s own college, check on University Rooms Oxford for
(sometimes) affordable rooms in other colleges.









Looking for Employment—in addition to the Careers Service

The university’s career services are great, but there are other recruitment and careers’ agencies
that help people find employment in Oxford. These include reed.co.uk, a large online job-listing
site, Champion Recruitment (which has an Oxford outpost) and Page Personnel. Most of these
services deal primarily with IT, accountancy, Human Resources and similar office jobs. However,
no matter your profession, it is worth looking at the jobs they have listed.

Further Resources

DailyInfo – A website that lists a lot of shows, events and other information about goings-on in
Oxford.

Interesting Talks Oxford – There are interesting events—lectures, seminars, etc.—that go on
throughout Oxford each day. These events, even if they are university-hosted, are often open to
the public. This website lists many of them.

Oxford City Council – This is the go-to place for questions and concerns about recycling, taxes,
road closures and other municipal problems.
Have any questions,
comments, concerns
or suggestions?

You can help make
this guide better…

Just email!