Elena Tobolkina draws attention to the childcare issues facing early career academics in many UK cities (“Which should I choose: my postdoc or my child?”, Opinion, 9 June). It is incorrect to assert that the University of Oxford is not addressing these issues on behalf of its staff and students.
Oxford’s nursery provision is one of the most generous in UK higher education, about twice the average level for the sector. We offer staff and students 245 places across four nurseries, with a further 130 places available in the city’s community nurseries. We know that childcare, coupled with Oxford’s cost of living, is very often expensive and we therefore provide our nursery care at heavily discounted rates. Fees for a full-time place at a university nursery are just over £800 per month – some 20 per cent less than typical nurseries elsewhere in the city. Staff can also take advantage of our nursery salary sacrifice and childcare voucher schemes, offering savings of up to 30 per cent on what are already very competitive fees.
While our existing nursery provision is extensive, we understand how high the demand for places is in Oxford. That is why we have invested more than £1 million this year in opening a fifth university nursery. This will create a further 98 nursery places for the children of our staff and students. The initiative is funded from employer savings from the tax schemes, and we shall be ploughing future savings into further expansion and development of our nursery service.
Parents who are developing their academic careers can be reassured that Oxford offers significant support and assistance with the provision and costs of childcare.
Pro vice-chancellor (personnel and equality)
University of Oxford