We appreciate this remains a difficult time for us all. Postgraduate researchers (PGRs), staff and students are asked to consult the main university coronavirus Covid-19 advice, which will be regularly updated on the Bournemouth University website. As issues relating to Covid-19 may still be causing unavoidable impact on research conduct and progress, this section highlights specific factors that occur in a research context to aid planning as an individual PGR.
It is recommended that you continue to discuss the likely impacts with your supervisory team and develop contingency plans. Requests to extend deadlines for individual milestones can be submitted prior to the event but requests to extensions to maximum enrolment or stipends will not be considered until 6 months prior to the relevant end date. If appropriate, you might also wish to discuss issues with your department’s PGR Lead (or equivalent Departmental Research Lead with responsibility for PGRs). If you are unsure who this is, please contact your Postgraduate Research Administrator in the first instance.
Can I come onto campus?
Our campuses are open, although some restrictions remain in place within our buildings in line with the latest Government guidelines for the management of Covid-19.
You can find out the full details on the BU ‘what’s open on campus’ on campus’ web page.
Should I continue my research work from home?
You can still continue to work from home. Supervisory meetings and formal key milestone reviews will continue to be held online for the immediate future. ResearchPAD can be updated remotely. Online facilities are available to support you, but you may need continue to re-phase your research activities. You should consult with your supervisory team.
Your supervisors will continue to arrange regular pastoral check-ins with you; please engage with these, and with your department and faculty staff who are ready to support and advise you.
I am concerned about the impact on my academic progress.
We understand that your ability to work remotely and progress your research degree may vary according to your individual circumstances (including the health of you and your family members, any additional caring responsibilities due to school and childcare closures, etc.). Your progress may also be affected or impeded by such factors as an inability to:
· Undertake field trips, visit and use facilities (laboratories, instruments, libraries, archives)
· Undertake qualitative and quantitative data collection for example interviews, focus groups and surveys
· Access research data, materials, or supervisor support and feedback
In addition, the nature of your particular research degree (discipline, research activities, milestone stage, etc.) may have an effect. The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) has noted that it is standard practice for research degree students to exhibit flexibility by progressively adjusting, adapting and otherwise refining their projects. Those of you who have had to replan or rethink your projects to work around obstacles created by the pandemic are likely to have displayed these wider abilities, and this is being recognised.
In addition, the QAA has noted that the standard of research is more important than its volume. Theses submitted during the pandemic may have smaller datasets than originally planned but, provided they meet the national standards as set out in the descriptors, are as valid as PhDs awarded at any other time.
Please continue to communicate with your supervisors, to recognise and record any such barriers to your work and be prepared to make adjustments to research plans, where possible. Any changes to your research plans should be recorded on the PGR COVID-19: Record of Changes to Research Plan Form. The rationale is to enable the university to record the mitigating circumstances and provide support. In such circumstances, your Department’s PGR Lead (or equivalent), Deputy Dean for Research & Professional Practice, and ultimately the Faculty Research Degree Committee (FRDC), will be ready to approve extensions to the period of study if necessary, on an individual basis. In some circumstances funding bodies have indicated that they may consider providing additional funding and these data will help you to make a strong case should this funding become available.
How do I record the impact on my research plans?
Where your research plan has been affected, the impact on your research, the actions you have identified to mitigate the impact and the adjustments you have made to your research plans can be recorded on the PGR COVID-19 Record of Changes to Research Plan form. It is important to record any aspects, which have affected either you or your research, in particular where adjustments are extensive. You should discuss the potential impact of the restrictions imposed on your research plans because of the pandemic with your supervisory team.
These might, include, for example:
· extension requests to individual milestones (these can be requested at any time prior to the event)
· interruption requests (these can be requested at any time)
· extension requests to maximum enrolments (these will not be considered until 6 months prior to maximum enrolment date)
· extension requests to studentships (these will not be considered until 6 months prior to the end of the stipend period)
· fee waiver requests (these can be requested at any time).
Should the impact on your research be such that you submit one of the above requests, you should complete that appropriate form (available from your PGRAs) and submit these together with the relevant supporting evidence, including the PGR COVID-19 Record of Changes to Research Plan Form for consideration and action by your Faculty or the relevant area.
How do I apply for an extension to my milestones?
If you are approaching a milestone, for example Probationary Review, Major Review, or Submission of Thesis, but require a little more time, you should request an extension to your milestone deadline via email to your PGRA. This should be submitted, together with a supporting statement from your supervisory team, and the PGR COVID-19 Record of Changes to Research Plan and/or any supporting evidence. Your request will be passed to your PGR Lead or DDRPP for review and final decision.
Requests for extension to individual milestones should be submitted as far as possible in advance of the milestone event to allow appropriate adjustments to be made.
How do I apply for an extension to my enrolment?
If you are approaching your maximum enrolment, you need to formally extend this. You should complete the Extension Request form (available from your Postgraduate Research Administrator). This should be submitted, together with a supporting statement from your supervisory team, and the PGR COVID-19 Record of Changes to Research Plan and/or any supporting evidence, to your Postgraduate Research Administrator. Your request will be passed to your PGR Lead or DDRPP for review and final decision.
Requests for an extension to maximum enrolment will only be considered within six months of your maximum enrolment date.
Can I interrupt my studies?
If you have not interrupted your studies but the need to do so is now identified, you should complete the Interruption Request form. This should be submitted, together with a supporting statement from your supervisory team, and the PGR COVID-19 Record of Changes to Research Plan and/or any supporting evidence, to your Postgraduate Research Administrator. Your request will be passed to your PGR Lead or DDRPP for review and final decision.
Requests for interruptions may be submitted at any time.
My Probationary Review is coming up, how will that work?
Probationary Reviews are currently taking place online. If you have not requested an extension to this deadline, you should submit your Probationary Report via ResearchPAD as normal where your supervisory team will add their comments.
Your Probationary Review form will be sent to the independent Academic Assessor and the Chair (your Department’s PGR Lead) for consideration. Your PGRA will contact you to make the arrangements.
My Major Review is coming up, how will that work?
Major Reviews are currently taking place remotely online. If you have not requested an extension to this deadline, you should submit your Major Review Report via ResearchPAD as normal where your supervisory team will add their comments.
Your PGRA will contact you to make the arrangements.
I am due to submit my research degree thesis for examination, what should I do?
The university has now moved to a policy of electronic-only submission for research degree theses.. If you are ready to submit your research degree thesis, please email a fully formatted PDF copy to your PGRA.
Information about the presentation of your thesis can be found in the Code of Practice for Research Degrees and your Subject Librarian is available should you require specific advice.
My Viva Voce examination is coming up, how will that work?
All viva voce examinations are currently taking place via video conferencing and your PGRA will contact you to make the arrangements. However, in this rapidly changing environment, there may need to be some flexibility to the time-frames outlined in the Code of Practice for Research Degrees and, where this happens, you will be kept informed. We also understand you may have additional concerns in light of the current circumstances; if you do and we need to take these into consideration, please do let your PGRA know.
I am due to submit my final approved research degree thesis, what should I do?
Please submit an electronic version of your final thesis to your Subject Librarian together with the Deposit of and Access to a Thesis form.
What advice is there for PGRs who are experiencing wellbeing and mental health challenges?
The Wellbeing Thesis provides an online resource to support your wellbeing, learning and research.
You should also maintain regular contact with your supervisory team and look out for opportunities to engage remotely with other PGRs at Departmental and Faculty level.
What happens if I am ill over this period?
If you fall ill over this period and are prevented from carrying out your research, you should report your illness to your supervisory team and PGRA in the usual way. If the absence is for an extended period, you may, in consultation with your supervisory team, interrupt your enrolment.
Where can I find further information about wellbeing?
There is a range of information to support you on the main BU Covid-19 wellbeing and support and guidance pages which can be found on the Covid-19 pages of the BU website.
I am about to seek research ethics approval for my project, are the Research Ethics Committees operating as normal in terms of the ethical approval process?
As with all research activities, appropriate ethical approval is required. Research should remain within the ethics approval that has been granted; however, where this is changed as a result of Covid-19 (for example moving from face-to-face to remote interviewing) please email firstname.lastname@example.org to notify the University of the change(s). In most instances this will be sufficient, but it is possible that substantive changes may require a formal amendment to be notified via the Online Ethics Checklist; you will be advised if this is the case. Otherwise, the Online Ethics Checklist will remain accessible; ethics review and approval will continue to operate as normal for new applications. Please note that no research activities involving human participants and collecting personal data should start until ethical approval is in place. The Online Ethics Checklist is available on any device as its platform is public facing.
The online ethics checklist is available on any device and as its platform is public-facing, you do not need VMWare horizon to access.
The OEC Admin System (to review student checklists) is held on a secure server, so you will need Horizon to access this platform. Guidance including a step-by-step guide for Horizon is available via the research ethics blog.
My research degree requires external ethical approval, what should I do?
If your research requires NHS Research Ethics approval and/or protocol amendments, you should be aware that NHS RECs are continuing to review new applications and consider other items. You should note however, that there may be delays because a) the RECs and their support staff are adapting to new virtual ways of working and b) priority is being given to Covid-19 applications and amendments, of which there are many and which RECs are being asked to turn around in very short periods of time. Nevertheless, you should submit your applications and amendments in the usual way but be prepared that your application may experience some delays. You may also wish to look at the research guidance on the HRA website.
Is there any other guidance about how to adjust to impact on research?
There is a specific page on the BU Research Blog dedicated to providing advice to academics and PGRs during Covid-19. This gives up-to-date advice on research activity affected during Covid-19.
If you are undertaking research in the NHS there is additional specific information on the BU Research Blog.
As always, please contact your supervisors to discuss how best to approach your particular situation.
I am an international postgraduate researcher on a Student Visa – what should I do?
Due to travel restrictions because of coronavirus some people may have queries about the expiry date of their current visa or leave to remain in the United Kingdom. The Home Office has provided further guidance around this, which you can read on the gov.uk website.
If you are a student and have any further concerns about your visa please contact the Immigration Compliance and Advice Team via AskBU at email@example.com.
If you are a member of staff please find further information in relation to immigration here or contact BU’s Compliance Manager.
If you are on a Student Visa:
· The Home Office understand that these are exceptional times and have provided some guidance. BU students who are unable to engage with their studies online for over 60 days due to Covid-19, will not be reported.
· The guidance also allows T4 students to engage with their studies online either from their home country or within the UK (including if they need to self-isolate but have no symptoms). These students also do not need to be reported to the Home Office.
In both these situations, your Tier 4 visa status will not be affected.
During the current UK restrictions, the Foreign Nationals Office have confirmed that registering with the police is not classed as essential travel and the office is closed. Therefore you should not visit the police station to register during this time.
Regular engagement with supervisors should continue as normal and be recorded on ResearchPAD.
I'm an international PGR student, can I travel to the UK?
The government’s advice for international students travelling from overseas for the Spring term is to consider whether you need to travel to the UK at this time, particularly if your course does not require you to be on campus. You should consider delaying your travel plans if travel plans can be rearranged without undue costs.
For those who do need to travel, as a Student visa holder, you are still allowed to travel to the UK under the new quarantine laws, and you must follow all quarantine regulations.
From 15 February, if you are travelling from, or your flight route takes you through a country on the UK’s banned travel list (sometimes called the ‘red list’) in the last 10 days, you will need to quarantine (self-isolate) in a government quarantine hotel for 10 days. You need to book your hotel before you travel and book two Covid-19 tests to take during your quarantine period at your own expense. Further information on travelling from a country on the ‘red list’ is available on the gov.uk website.
If you are travelling from a country that is not on the banned travel list, you will need to quarantine at home for 10 days and you will need to book two Covid-19 tests before you arrive to take during your quarantine period. Further guidance for how to quarantine when you arrive in the UK is available on the gov.uk website.
All international arrivals must complete a passenger locator form on arrival in the UK and must take a Covid-19 test and get a negative result during the three days before you travel. More information about testing before you travel to England is available on the gov.uk website.
Please ensure that you adhere to both the UK regulations and the regulations of your home country before you travel.
I am a self-funded PGR and pay my own fees, is there any help specifically for me?
Should you be facing immediate difficulties, you may wish to seek support from the BU Financial Support Fund.
How do I apply for a fee waiver?
If your research has been impacted significantly by COVID-19 and you feel that there is sufficient evidence to request a fee waiver, you should do this via an email to your PGRA. This should be submitted, together with a supporting statement from your supervisory team and the PGR COVID-19 Record of Changes to Research Plan and/or any supporting evidence. Your request will be passed to your PGR Lead or DDRPP for faculty support and the Doctoral College for institutional oversight, with the final decision being made by the university’s finance department.
Requests for fee waivers may be submitted at any point, however, you should refer to the BU Student Fees Policy for further guidance.
I am a clinical academic doctoral student, should I continue to work in clinical practice?
We appreciate that you are in a unique position due to the blend of practice and research in a clinical academic doctorate. It is important that you discuss your specific circumstances with your supervisory team or Department’s PGR Lead as soon as possible.
Given the current pressure on the NHS we recommend that, providing you are fit and well, you should remain in practice for your two days a week. You should follow the policies and guidance of the Trust in which you are working. You can find some generic advice for NHS clinicians here: https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/
I am in receipt of a BU PhD Studentship, how to I apply for a costed extension?
In line with sector-wide best practice, BU may provide costed extensions to those PGRs in receipt of a Studentship whose research progress has been significantly impacted due to the effects or restrictions resulting from Covid-19 by one or more of the following:
· Lack of access to laboratory or field work
· Caring responsibilities
· Professional responsibilities (e.g. NHS key workers)
· Personal direct illness linked to Covid-19 or indirect personal impact, including for example stress / mental wellbeing.
Costed extensions will be for three months in the first instance, with further periodic reviews planned for the future. Full details of the process can be found in the “Studentship Costed Extensions: Guidance for Faculties, Supervisors and PGRS” available here. As always, you should consult with your supervisory team regarding your own personal situation.
Applications for a cost extension should be made on the Costed Extension Application Form which should be submitted, together with a supporting statement from your supervisory team and the PGR COVID-19 Record of Changes to Research Plan, and/or any supporting evidence, to your PGRA. Your request will be passed to your PGR Lead or DDRPP for Faculty support and the Doctoral College for institutional oversight, with the final decision made by the Research Performance and Management MIG, in line with the principles set out in the guidance.
Requests for costed extensions will only be considered within six months of the stipend end date.
I'm on a BU studentship, will I still receive my monthly payments?
You will continue to receive all monthly stipend payments as normal.
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