Oxford students mark end of exams by covering each other in foam

Oxford students mark end of exams by covering each other in shaving foam, silly string, eggs, flour and rotting food despite authorities’ threats to call police on ‘trashing’ celebrations

  • Ritual dates back to 1970s; it sees students spray each other with flour, confetti and eggs in one last blow-out
  • Friends of the students wait outside the back of Examination Schools in Oxford city centre to ‘trash’ them
  • Oxford Uni said it will now tip off police about ‘trashing’ locations so they can arrest anyone breaking the law

It’s a ritual that costs the authorities £25,000 a year. 

But that didn’t stop Oxford University students celebrating the end of their exams in the only way they know how – by covering each other in foam and silly string as they chug bottle after bottle of bubbly.

Final-years were today seen pouring out of exam halls as they began the annual end-of-term booze-up.

The tradition, known as ‘trashing’, sees students spray each other with Champagne, flour and confetti in one last blow-out before they leave the world of academia.

However, the university said that, this summer, it will be tipping off Thames Valley Police about the locations of the so-called trashings so they can arrest anyone breaking the law. 

Oxford University students have celebrated the end of their exams in the only way they know how – by covering each other in foam and silly string as they chug bottle after bottle of bubbly

‘Trashing’ started in the 1970s and sees friends of students taking their finals wait outside the back of the Examination Schools in Oxford city centre. As their chums emerge, they blast them with silly string and shaving foam before plying each other with alcohol – usually Champagne

The university said that, this summer, it will be tipping off Thames Valley Police about the locations of the so-called trashings so they can arrest anyone breaking the law

The tradition, known as ‘trashing’, sees students spray each other with Champagne, flour and confetti in one last blow-out before they leave the world of academia

Final-year Oxford Uni students were seen pouring out of exam halls as they began the annual end-of-term booze-up fun

The tradition of ‘trashing’ has endured despite successive attempts by the proctors of Oxford to clamp down on it and even impose fines

Five years ago, the celebrations were described by university proctors as ‘a disgrace’, after students left behind rotten food, vomit and broken glass. (Above, students pictured today)

The university said that participating in trashing can lead to fines and disciplinary action since it is against the university’s code of conduct

A university spokesman told the Daily Mail in April: ‘Getting through examinations is a milestone but we urge our students to find ways to mark this which are far less damaging, costly and – frankly – annoying to community neighbours, the city council and fellow members of the university’

A university spokesman told the Daily Mail in April: ‘Getting through examinations is a milestone but we urge our students to find ways to mark this which are far less damaging, costly and – frankly – annoying to community neighbours, the city council and fellow members of the university.

‘Thoughtless actions and inconsiderate, entitled behaviour passed off as “trashing” can damage Oxford students in the minds of the community and the wider public.’

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The university also said that participating in trashing can lead to fines and disciplinary action since it is against the university’s code of conduct.

The code states that no student is allowed to ‘throw, pour or spray’ anything which could injure someone or damage property.

Several colleges have attacked the tradition, including Mansfield which labelled it ‘stupid…damaging to the environment, and wasteful’. Meanwhile, Corpus Christi said trashing was ‘just not classy’.

It is nigh-on impossible for students to escape being caught up in the melee because of the colour of the flower they wear on their gown. Exam-goers are expected to wear a white carnation for their first test, a red one for their final exam, and pink for all in between


The university code states that no student is allowed to ‘throw, pour or spray’ anything which could injure someone or damage property. Above, two of today’s ‘trashed’ students

In 2015, Oxford University Students’ Union voted overwhelmingly in favour of keeping the centuries-old tradition of wearing gowns, suits and mortarboards to exams

Some students had argued that the formal dress is ‘medieval’, claiming it contributes to the perception of the university as ‘elitist’ and ‘unwelcoming’

A flower is worn on each student’s black coat – part of the ceremonial attire known as sub fusc which must be worn during exams

The ritual began in the 1970s and sees friends of students taking their finals wait outside the back of the Examination Schools in Oxford city centre.

As their chums emerge, they blast them with silly string and shaving foam before plying each other with alcohol – usually Champagne.

The tradition of ‘trashing’ has endured despite successive attempts by the proctors of Oxford to clamp down on it and even impose fines.

Five years ago, the celebrations were described by university proctors as ‘a disgrace’, after students left behind rotten food, vomit and broken glass.

Several colleges have attacked the tradition, including Mansfield which labelled it ‘stupid…damaging to the environment, and wasteful’. Meanwhile, Corpus Christi said trashing was ‘just not classy’

In a referendum, 75 per cent voted to keep the signature sartorial look for exams. Cue the mad rush for post-‘trashing’ washing detergent…

It followed a report of a female student being fined £80 for being caught rubbing a trifle in a friend’s face. She was told she had to pay the fee or she would not be allowed to graduate.

It is nigh-on impossible for students to escape being caught up in the melee because of the colour of the flower they wear on their gown.

Exam-goers are expected to wear a white carnation for their first test, a red one for their final exam, and pink for all in between.

The flower is worn on each student’s black coat – part of the ceremonial attire known as sub fusc which must be worn during exams.

In 2015, Oxford University Students’ Union voted overwhelmingly in favour of keeping the centuries-old tradition of wearing gowns, suits and mortarboards to exams.

Some students had argued that the formal dress is ‘medieval’, claiming it contributes to the perception of the university as ‘elitist’ and ‘unwelcoming’.

But in a referendum, 75 per cent voted to keep the signature sartorial look for exams.

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