Thursday 30 July 2020

All PGR students email

Returning to campus and alternative options

For the attention of: Continuing campus-based PGR students

NB. If you are already registered as a distance learner this email does not apply to you but we didn't want to miss anyone out

As PGR students we recognise that you, along with the vast majority of our researchers, have since the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions were imposed in late March, been working from home work. We know this has been a difficult time and we are grateful for the resilience you’ve shown throughout this difficult time.

As Covid-19 restrictions ease, we are starting to re-open the campus for non-Covid-19 research (albeit with social distancing measures in place and ongoing issues with respect to access to certain spaces). We are therefore encouraging our academic departments to start to welcome you back as continuing PGR students. We know that many of you require access to laboratories or other specialist facilities and want to give you access to these where possible and where personal circumstances permit. We recognise, however, that for many international students a return to York may be limited by ongoing travel restrictions and the need to obtain a visa, secure flights etc.

Departments that are able to open laboratories and other specialist facilities will of course experience constraints (sometimes significant) due to social distancing measures (e.g. rotas for access, restrictions on desk space within laboratories etc.). When considering how to facilitate access, we are asking them to give careful consideration to ensuring that PGR students are given reasonable rights of access vis-a-vis staff and postdocs, and that there is a fair and transparent process if there is prioritisation of access.

Looking ahead, and obviously based on the assumption that the situation does not worsen, our expectation is that all continuing PGR students who are in their normal period of enrolment should return to campus-based/focused research by 1 October 2020 unless alternative arrangements have been made. If you are not able to return to campus, plese read and respond to the information below and detailed here.


Alternatives to a return to campus

We recognise that a minority of (primarily international) continuing PGR students who are in their normal period of enrolment may have difficulties returning to campus-based/focused research by 1 October 2020 due to ongoing Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.

If you are likely to fall into this category, we are asking your department to work with you, primarily through your supervisor(s), TAP members and Graduate Chair, to determine which of the following options best suit you and your circumstances and will enable you to successfully complete on-time.

  1. A period of Temporary Remote Research (TRR)

  2. A transfer to a distance learning variant of your existing programme

  3. Leave of absence.

Apply for a period of Temporary Remote Research

If you think that it is unlikely that you will be able to resume campus-based/focused research by 1 October 2020 (e.g. due to ongoing Covid-19 pandemic travel restrictions) but that: (i) you will be able to return to York in due course, and (ii) your project is suited to a further spell of remote research, then you should apply for a period of Temporary Remote Research (TRR). Your funder/sponsor, if applicable, will normally need to give their consent to TRR but given that this is a temporary measure approval should hopefully be achievable in many cases.

For TRR for continuing PGR students:

  • we will ‘start the clock’ for the approval of a period of TRR from 1st October 2020 (i.e. for the purpose of TRR approval we will discount all ‘working from home’ time before this date)

  • the process for the consideration of TRR will involve a discussion between you and your supervisor(s) and the completion of a short form (to follow) which will be approved by the department (up to 4 months TRR), by the Faculty (4-6 months TRR), or by Special Cases Committee (over 6 months, up up to the permitted maximum which is normally 9 months for PhD students)

  • supervision, support arrangements, and other practical considerations will be based on TRR for new PGR students.

Apply to transfer to Distance Learning variant of a PGR programme

For a small number of continuing PGR students, your needs may best be served by a transfer to a distance learning variant of their existing PGR programme, if one is available (check with your department). Unlike TRR, transfer to a distance learning programme assumes that you will not be returning to campus-based/focused research for the remainder of your period of enrolment, though you will need to meet the distance learning attendance and in-person supervision requirements (see the University’s Framework for Distance Learning PGR Programmes. Your funder/sponsor, if applicable, will need to give their consent to the transfer.

Apply for a leave of absence

If you cannot return to campus in the Autumn Term and neither a period of Temporary Remote Research nor a transfer to a distance learning variant is suitable for you (for example, if your funder/sponsor’s is unwilling to accept the TRR or distance learning options), then you will need to request a leave of absence.

Next steps

If you have not already done so, the first step is to consider the options and talk to your supervisor what is the best for you. If following discussion with your supervisor you feel you will be better served by one of the other options then you need to apply, with the support of your supervisor for one of the three options outlined above. Remember that if you need independent advice the GSA can provide this for you.

Details of how to apply will be made available by 14 August.

If you have any questions please contact your Departmental Graduate Administrator or

Best wishes

Professor Tom Stoneham, Dean of the York Graduate Research School