Wednesday 12 January 2022

All PGR email

Updated advice re. Covid-19 for PGRs from York Graduate Research School

Dear Postgraduate Researcher,

We know the Omicron wave of Covid-19 is a concern, so I wanted to get in touch to outline the approach being taken by the York Graduate Research School, and the University more generally, to minimise the impact and thus provide, I hope, some reassurance.

The continued impact of Covid-19 on your research

As the recent message from our VC, Charlie Jeffrey, has made clear, the campus is open and functioning normally, so campus-based research can continue as planned (see also the advice on conducting face-to-face research). On-campus study spaces for PGRs including the Library, Humanities Research Centre, and ReCSS are open as normal.

Please take note of the advice on getting a booster vaccination, testing and the wearing of face coverings to protect yourselves and your colleagues.

If you have research that is being hampered by current Covid-19 restrictions, please speak to your supervisor(s) and TAP, and agree a contingency plan to accommodate this. This disruption to your research could, for example, be because you cannot go abroad to undertake fieldwork or it might be that you are shielding or concerned about mixing with others on campus. Your departmental Health and Safety Officer can help you and your supervisors to assess your specific risks and issues.

If you are currently abroad and cannot get to the UK due to Covid-19 restrictions

If you are currently abroad, we are expecting you to come/return to York as planned (unless you are on a distance learning programme). If you cannot travel to the UK, you must speak to your supervisor and agree on a way forward as a matter of urgency (options may include Temporary Remote Research, authorised absence or a Leave of Absence). If you are a Student Visa holder there are specific restrictions that apply and it is likely that you will be referred to the Visa Compliance Team for support.

PGR training and support

University support services are operating normally. General advice and support is available via the Student Hub and here are details of mental health and wellbeing advice and support services. The Research Excellence Training Team will be offering a full programme of professional development and careers support online (and a limited number in-person) this Spring Term.

The University is making contingency arrangements in case staff absence becomes an issue, but we are hoping that any impact will be minimal given that many services can be operated online.

If you are worried about the impact of Covid-19 on progression, submission or examination

Various contingency measures remain in place to help you deal with any impact that Covid-19 may have had/be having on your research and consequently on progression, submission and examination:

  • Progression: if you are concerned about progression please speak to your supervisor. There is the possibility to request an extension to your progression deadline and you can opt to submit a Covid progression statement to explain to your progression panel how your research has changed/may change as a consequence of the Covid-19 restrictions.

  • Submission: if you believe that you will not be able to submit your thesis on time due to the impact of Covid-19 (and you are within three months of the submission date), you can request an extension with minimal evidentiary requirements. Extensions requests due to the impact of Covid-19 are looked upon sympathetically.

  • Examination: you can opt to submit a Covid impact statement to explain to your examiners how your project/thesis has changed as a consequence of the Covid-19 restrictions. Online vivas are now a well-established option if this would be helpful.

If you are worried about your financial situation

If you are worried about your financial situation, please contact the Student Hub for advice and support and consider if you might be eligible for the Student Support Fund.

If Covid-19 is affecting your health or personal circumstances

If Covid-19 is currently impacting your health (short-term or long-term) or your personal circumstances (for example imposed additional caring responsibilities), please talk to your supervisor about the options, which may include taking authorised absence (if you are on a Student Visa) or a Leave of Absence.

Further advice

Please do not suffer in silence. If you are worried, please talk to your supervisor, a TAP member, Graduate Chair or other trusted member of staff. If you want independent advice and support, please get in touch with the Graduate Students’ Association.

Kind regards,

Kate Arnold

Dean of York Graduate Research School