Oxford Colleges

Parking and parcel deliveries at the University of Oxford Colleges


The parcel delivery market has seen dramatic growth over the last few years. With city congestion in the city reaching untenable levels, and the contribution to air pollution and carbon emissions spiralling out of control, there is a need to understand the “last mile logistics” of this process, the final step when parcels from a distribution center are delivered to colleges.

The University of Oxford has been gradually reducing the number of departmental parking places, but it has no jurisdiction over the autonomous Colleges. Little is known about how many parking spaces the Colleges possess, but it is probably in the 1000-1500 range.  A survey of the Colleges was undertaken to establish the number, present uses and likely opportunities for reduction, in order to both increase awareness and concern in the Colleges and to inform policy in the City generally.

CoHSAT sought to research the factors that might influence individual colleges to voluntarily reduce their car parking provision, through discussions with bursar members of Conference of Colleges, Oxford City Council, etc. We will also survey College bursars to understand the issues around parcel delivery and establish an evidence base for taking action to reduce deliveries and their impact on air pollution and carbon emissions.


The 39 colleges of the University of Oxford are dispersed across the centre of the City and do not form a coherent campus. The colleges are autonomous and independent of most decisions by the University, so the number of parking spaces they provide will depend upon their individual decisions.

The colleges have over 1,200 parking spaces on their premises, in comparison with 420 for the University departments. In both cases, some are needed for deliveries and disabled personnel, but the majority are for commuters. In the colleges, there is one space for every five staff, whereas it is one for 23 staff in departments. The University is in the process of reducing the number of spaces further. The plans for the colleges are not known, though the workplace parking levy proposed in Connecting Oxford, if geographically extensive, could result in a shift to a pro-active policy.

Around 3,000 parcels are delivered each day to the colleges, primarily for students. This number increased by 25-30% last year, with no expectation of slower growth in future. This causes obstruction on the roads outside, pollution from the diesel vans, inconvenience at the porters’ lodges and excessive packaging for college disposal. A survey of 1,220 students and staff indicated few options to reduce their demand for on-line shopping: it appears here to stay. The students are adamant that additional charges would be socially regressive and any form of quota or allowance is administratively impossible. The main interventions appear to come from replacing the diesel delivery vans with cargo bikes (for small parcels) and out-of-hours electric vehicle for large parcels. The City Council has now taken over policy development on parcel deliveries.

Read the full report here.