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Oxford-Berkeley Collaboration

The Oxford-Berkeley Collaboration (OBC) is designed to facilitate the exchange of graduate research students (DPhil, MPhil, MSW-PhD and PhD) between the Department of Social Policy and Intervention University of Oxford and the UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare. The exchange involves up to four students a year from each institution. Students serve as visiting scholars, researchers, academic visitors or recognized students according to the designation of the host institutions. The student exchange involves participation in the host institution for a period of normally three to six months.


The objectives of this exchange are to provide an opportunity for students to broaden their intellectual horizons and gain an international perspective on social policy and evidenced-based social interventions by studying abroad with faculty and doctoral students in two of the foremost academic institutions in their field. The exchange also provides an opportunity for heightening interaction among faculty from both institutions, facilitating joint ventures on international projects and comparative research.

Application Process

Students who wish to participate will apply to the point person at their school (the doctoral chair at Berkeley Social Welfare and Professor Martin Seeleib-Kaiser at Oxford). Applications to participate can be made only after students have completed their first year of study in their program. The application will involve a brief written statement that includes:

  • A description of the reason for going to the other university, the length of time they wish to spend there, what they expect to learn and what they will be working on when abroad (e.g., students might be completing one of their doctoral exam papers, gathering data for a dissertation, preparing a literature review of evidence based practice or completing a portion of their dissertation). They will also identify what they propose to contribute to the host institution (e.g., presentation of a paper, offering a lecture on US or UK practice, research methods or policy).

  • The application statement will also identify the faculty advisor at the host institution with whom visiting scholars would like to work, any relevant courses that would be audited and other relevant learning activities at the host institution. This would require that the applicant visit the host institution's website and review faculty and their interests and possible courses being offered, which students might audit. The website also provides a list of current doctoral students and their fields of study. Students planning to participate in the exchange might establish contact with their counterparts in the host institution to explore possibilities of lodging exchange or other arrangements for housing during their stay abroad.

Selection Process

The selection process involves two stages:

  • The applications will be reviewed for approval by the point person (or a sub-committee, which would include the applicants faculty advisor/chair) at the student’s sponsoring institution. Such approval will normally be based on considerations of how the applicants’ plans would advance their progress and intellectual development in the doctoral program and on the number of applications that are submitted each year.

  • Once the application is approved by the designated faculty at the sponsoring institution, then the student submits it to the proposed faculty advisor at the host institution for consideration. Normally the relevant faculty from the sponsoring and host institutions will consult before the final acceptance of applicants. The acceptance of participants will be at the discretion of the host institution.

Procedures and Student Obligations

Throughout their stay at the host institution, participants will remain registered at their sponsoring institution. Oxford students going to Berkeley will pay Berkeley a Registration Fee to cover the costs of obtaining a J-1 visa and mailing the documents. Berkeley students going to Oxford will need to arrange their own UK visa and obtain a UK Visa Letter from Oxford Department of Social Policy and Intervention 

All Oxford students must have health insurance coverage for themselves and all accompanying dependents for their entire stay at Berkeley. This health insurance must meet specific requirements compliant with the U.S. Department of State Exchange Visitor (J-1) Program. If the visiting student’s health insurance does not meet the specific requirements, the Oxford student must purchase health insurance through Berkeley or a private source.

All of the student expenses will be underwritten by the participating students. This is not intended to preclude the possibility that an exchange student may apply for and be awarded a scholarship or similar grant for which he or she may be eligible.

The funding of the travel and accommodation costs of participants in the exchange program shall be the responsibility of the students or their sponsoring institution. In light of the relatively high cost and limited availability of student housing in Oxford and Berkeley, it is recommended that when possible students planning to participate from both institutions seek to make arrangements with their counterparts for the exchange or sharing of lodging.

The exchange students will be expected to participate actively in doctoral seminars and colloquia at the host institutions and to make at least one formal presentation of their research at such meetings during their stay at the host institution. At the University of Oxford students will become members of the respective research group during their stay. Arrangements will be made for the assignment of student mentors at the host institution who would assist in orienting the visiting scholars and linking them up with other doctoral students and relevant groups in the host institution. Doctoral students at both institutions are expected to serve as peer mentors to visitors participating in the exchange.

In recognition of their work, a Certificate of Participation signed by the chair or dean of both doctoral programs will be granted to all students who partake in the OBC graduate research student exchange.

The Next Phase

During the first year of the OBC exchange, faculty and graduate research students will be planning to implement Phase Two involving:

  • Virtual exchange via a “breakfast/dinner” Berkeley/Oxford doctoral seminar video conference (breakfast time in Berkeley/dinner time in Oxford), which could involve a small group of graduate research students and faculty on each side, with weekly bi-monthly or monthly meetings during which doctoral students might open with a presentation of a paper and then have a discussion among all participants – faculty could also present. This could also provide an opportunity for doctoral students from both institutions to collaborate on papers – and we could initiate an annual OBC Award for the best collaborative paper.

  • A two- to three-day summer institute jointly planned and conducted by Oxford and Berkeley faculty – could deal with evaluative research, comparative policy analysis, etc. This institute would alternate between meeting in Berkeley and Oxford.

  • A two-day meeting of the Oxford and Berkeley OBC planning groups would be held the following spring in Oxford to take stock of the first year and engage in planning for the next phase.