Meetings and events

The government’s Prevent duty guidance requires universities to consider and review their policies and procedures in a number of areas, including the management of events that take place on University premises, or are University affiliated, funded, or branded. In carrying out this duty, section 31 of the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 requires the University to have particular regard to its pre-existing duty (under section 43 of the Education (No 2) Act 1986) 'to take such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured for members, students and employees of the establishment and for visiting speakers'. The University has replaced its former Code of Practice on Freedom of Speech with a new Code of Practice on Meetings and Events.

The new Code retains the established decision-making structure (entrusting the decision-making to the Proctors with a right of appeal to the Vice-Chancellor) but places greater emphasis on the importance of freedom of speech and academic freedom, stressing the need to assess risks relating to events in the context of the University’s existing legal responsibilities under the Human Rights Act 1998, the Education Reform Act 1988, and consistently with the Public Sector Equality Duty. The University will always aim to allow an event to go ahead, provided that it is within the law and does not pose unacceptable risks to individuals, and will work with the organisers towards this goal.  

Those who are organising meetings or events or are responsible for administering external bookings of University or Oxford SU premises are responsible for assessing whether there are any major issues in the context of the University Code, and referring to the Proctors as necessary. The Proctors shall act in a risk-based and proportionate manner and with the object, wherever possible, of enabling events or meetings to proceed. It is not anticipated that events and meetings which have been organised as part of the academic curriculum, co-curriculum or other usual academic events would cause concern such as to require formal referral to the Proctors under the provisions of the Code. The Code also applies to all online meetings and events specifically run by staff, students or an affiliated group – if they are branded and presented as a University event.

To find out more about the referral process, or to make a referral, visit the Meetings and Events page on the Academic Support website. 

Approved by the General Purposes Committee of Council on 2 May 2017

  1. Rooms used to hold meetings or events at the University:
    1. are under the authority of (i) the Head of Department (or their nominee) responsible for the department’s space or (ii) University Administration and Services (UAS) in the case of UAS-managed University-level facilities; and 
    2. must be booked for use in accordance with the guidelines set down by the relevant Head of Department or the Registrar (as Head of UAS).
  2. All staff and students of the University who are organising meetings or events, or are responsible for booking space or arranging facilities for University events, must follow the University’s Code of Practice on Meetings and Events. (The Code applies to all meetings and events held on University premises (including those organised by third parties), as well as all University funded, affiliated and branded events regardless of location).

Will I need to cover the costs of security arrangements which might be required for the meeting I am organising?

The University’s Code of Practice on Meetings and Events requires an event organiser to notify the Proctors if they have any concerns regarding the safety and security of those attending the event. In making any judgement regarding the control measures that might need to be applied, the Proctors may consult Oxford University Security Services (OUSS) for further assessment and advice. OUSS has a budget for this work and no charge would normally be applied to the event organiser.

By their very nature, some events do come to the attention of the Police. If, after their own assessment, the Police consider that they need to deploy officers, they can, and occasionally do, levy a charge. For further advice on security arrangements, please contact in the first instance.

Does the code apply if I’m organising an event for a student club?

If the event is being held on University or Oxford SU premises: yes.

If the club has permission to use the University name or logo and is doing so, or is using University funding to hold the event: yes, no matter where the event is held.

Does the code apply if I'm organising an online meeting or event?

The Code also applies to all online meetings and events specifically run by staff, students or an affiliated group – if they are branded and presented as a University event.

Does the code apply if I’m organising an event on college premises?

If University branding or funding is used for the event: yes.

If no University branding or funding is used for the event: no, though you should consider the college’s protocols.

I’m organising a University branded or funded event on college premises, which code applies?

Both. If conditions are imposed both under the University’s code and under the college’s protocols, you will be responsible for complying with both sets of conditions.