Here you will find answers to frequently asked questions from postgraduate students relating to COVID-19. Please check this page thoroughly before sending enquiries directly to the Graduate School.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
A number of specific questions have been raised by research students and documented below. We will update this as other questions are raised.
Please also refer to the University's COVID-19 PGR FAQ pages here: https://www.ed.ac.uk/news/covid-19/current-students/pgr-students
UPDATED - 06 JULY 2021
A. Yes, your supervisor(s) must and will continue to support you during your research studies, but until notified otherwise, supervision meetings must take place online via appropriate platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Skype or similar. Please discuss with your supervisor what format you will both be comfortable with adopting and ensure regular meetings take place.
A. An email message was sent to all staff and research students on 24 March 2020 by the Head of Computing Support, which stated "Where there is an absolute and critical need for a monitor or laptop to be purchased a case must be made for consideration. You must submit this case via a computing support ticket, indicating who is your supervisor so that we can seek their support for your case. The School will attempt to purchase the monitor or laptop on your behalf from the University's suppliers, delivering to your home address. Should this not be possible, you may be permitted to purchase via expenses. Any purchases made off expenses without prior approval are likely not to be accepted. Please note that all equipment will be charged to a Covid-19 specific account, and not to any individual funds or institutes.
A. School policy is that furniture should not be removed from the Forum, however, permission was given to take chairs home and students were expected to email Carol Marini (Facilities Supervisor) if they did this. Borrowed chairs must be returned to the forum as soon as it is open again for business to PGR students. Replacements will not be provided.
A. Collection of items from School offices has been invited via a number of surveys organised by the SoI facilities team and individual arrangements have been made with those needing to collect equipment from the Forum.
A. As above, but you must inform the Computing support team, by using the normal Computing support form (https://www.inf.ed.ac.uk/systems/support/form/) of any monitors or desktops that are removed from the Informatics Buildings. Further to this, details of kit which need to be taken home should be recorded via submission here: https://webmark.inf.ed.ac.uk/fill/kitloan/request
NB: If you are an SoI CDT student then you must contact your CDT Administrator / CDT Exec regarding the removal of computing equipment from the Forum, as explicit permission of the CDT Exec is required. If you do not have specific persmission of both the computing support team and your CDT executive, then you should not be taking CDT computing equipment home.
A. We recognise that, aside from personal circumstances affecting themselves or family, postgraduate research students may find their programmes of research affected or impeded by such factors as (and not restricted to) inability to undertake research trips, visit and use facilities (laboratories, instruments, libraries etc) undertake surveys, or access research data, materials, or supervisor support and feedback. Please do not hesitate to draw such circumstances to the attention of your supervisors as soon as possible.
A. Students and supervisors should record any impacts via supervision meeting notes; supervisors should be prepared to adjust research plans where possible. Where such adjustments are extensive, this should be logged with the Deputy Director of IGS and formally documented in your Annual Review. If this does affect your overall progress towards submission, please be reassured that we will be ready to discuss extensions to the period of study if necessary, on a case by case basis.
A. Academic Services has confirmed that the normal Leave of Absence recording process resumed from 1st September. In CSE, the process from 01 September 2020 is detailed here: http://web.inf.ed.ac.uk/infweb/student-services/igs/phd/programme-changes/leave-of-absence. Students who are working remotely, and are not residing at their term time address, should submit a Leave of Absence request for approval.
Students should also update their EUCLID record to reflect that their method of engagement is "research off campus".
A. The Student Immigration Service (SIS) are able to provide the most up to date advice and guidance relating to absences directly linked to Covid-19 and the impact on visas, so students should contact the SIS team directly if they are at all concerned. Up to date information is on the university website at https://www.ed.ac.uk/news/covid-19/current-students.
A. So long as you continue to engage with your research studies and make progress your Tier 4 visa shouldn’t be affected and you should be able to resume your studies in the UK once you are able to travel again. If you have specific questions or concerns, please contact the Student Immigration Service directly. Their contact details are available at https://www.ed.ac.uk/student-administration/immigration
A. PGR students should try and make as much progress as reasonable under the circumstances. Activites may need to be focused away from experimental work to more desk based activities such as literature reviews, drafting thesis chapters or drafting paper submissions. Should the COVID-19 significantly impact on academic progress, then there is already mechanisms in place for extending a PGR research degree if you experience a period where you cannot work - these are Authorised Interruptions of Study (AIS) and programme extensions.
A. If your research is significantly affected, then you should consider requesting an AIS or programme extension as the means for managing impacts on progression (NB: temporary suspension of studies may affect stipends). The University will offer an unfunded interruption or extension, as appropriate, to all affected PhD, MPhil and MScR students. This does not mean this facility must be used, but it is there in case you need it.
A. Please request extensions/interruptions through the normal IGS request process, who will seek College approval via the appropriate committee. For those with Tier 4 visas, you should be able to interrupt for longer than 60 days in the current circumstances without the withdrawal of your CAS, however please check your situation first with the University’s Student Immigration Service.
A. For up to date information on UKRI/EPRC funded extensions for final year PGR students, please refer to the IGS COVID-19 updates here: https://web.inf.ed.ac.uk/infweb/student-services/igs/covid-19-updates-and-faqs/updates-relating-to-covid-19
A. For up to date information on Scottish Funding Council funded extensions for final year PGR students, please refer to the IGS COVID-19 updates here: https://web.inf.ed.ac.uk/infweb/student-services/igs/covid-19-updates-and-faqs/updates-relating-to-covid-19
A. For up to date information on UKRI/EPRC funded extensions for PGR students not in their final year of funding, please refer to the IGS COVID-19 updates here: https://web.inf.ed.ac.uk/infweb/student-services/igs/covid-19-updates-and-faqs/updates-relating-to-covid-19
A. For up to date information on Scottish Funding Council funded extensions for PGR students not in their final year of funding, please refer to the IGS COVID-19 updates here: https://web.inf.ed.ac.uk/infweb/student-services/igs/covid-19-updates-and-faqs/updates-relating-to-covid-19
A. The provision of extra UKRI and SFC funds is unable to support funding extensions to PGR students whose scholarship is funded by an industry sponsor (e.g. Huawei, Google, Microsoft etc). Supervisors of PGR students funded by industry partners are expected to initiate discussions with the student's industrial partner(s) about their willingness to fund their proportion of any paid extension. If appropriate, it may be pertinent to involve the relevant Business Development Manager or CDT Director. If the industry partner agrees to provide additional funds to support extra stipend payments for a particular student, supervisors should organise payment of the additional funds to the School via the appropriate Portfolio Manager.
A. Matriculation fees (currently £170 for PGRs entering into their write up year) will still be invoiced and will require payment. Informatics scholarships don't cover this administrative fee, so students will be required to pay it themselves. However, if a student has been awarded a COVID funding extension via the Phase 1 or Phase 2 process, the School will exceptionally pay this fee on behalf of the student.
A: Continuation fees (which are the fees payable for the period of extension beyond the maximum programme of study) will be waived, only if the reason for the programme extension was specifically related to COVID. If the programme extension was not due to COVID distruption, the continuation fee due will be invoiced to the student.
A: More info on PGR fees: https://www.ed.ac.uk/tuition-fees/find/postgraduate-research
A. Details on the University Hardship fund are available here: https://www.ed.ac.uk/studentfunding/financial-support/additional-financial-assistance/covid-19.
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A. If you would like further support, a number of resources are available to you. The University's Chaplaincy's Listening Service is available online (it doesn’t matter if you are not at all religious, they are there to support all members of the University community) and the Student Counselling Service have lots of advice on managing stress and anxiety online. Self-help and online resources that might help include: Big White Wall, Feeling Good App, Silver Cloud. And remember, be brave and reach out to your peers, friends and family; they will want to help you and be there for your in your time of difficulty.
A. This is a difficult time for everyone, including research students, supervisors and the academic and admininstrative staff that support you and your programmes. We do not know how long this situation will last, but we can expect that it may continue for several months. So it’s important that we look out for each other and stay in regular contact with our colleagues and friends.
A. If you are feeling in need of help and support, you must let someone know. That may be your supervisor in the first instance, or it might be someone independent of your supervison team. Contact details of people you can speak to are available at https://web.inf.ed.ac.uk/infweb/student-services/igs/phd/student-support/resolving-problems. You must let someone know if you are stuggling; if we don't know, then we can't help. Three members of the IGS team are trained Mental Health First Aiders and will be happy to lend a helpful, sympathetic ear if anyone needs.
A. The Advice Place at the Edinburgh University Students Association can provide students with independent advice and support on a diverse range of issues. More details are available at https://www.eusa.ed.ac.uk/support_and_advice/the_advice_place/
A. There are useful ways in which you can help manage any anxiety or feelings of fear during this time.
- Keep connected. Maintaining social networks, even online, can help maintain a sense of normality, and provide valuable outlets for sharing feelings and relieving stress.
- Be mindful of assumptions about others. Someone who has a cough or a fever does not necessarily have coronavirus. Self-awareness is important in not stigmatizing others in our community.
- Stay healthy. Continue to practise good hygiene measures:
- Avoid direct hand contact with your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Wash hands with soap and water or alcohol hand sanitiser, after coughing or sneezing, after going to the toilet, and prior to eating and drinking.
- When coughing or sneezing, cover your nose and mouth with disposable tissues and disposing of them in nearest waste bin after use, or cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
- Avoid contact with others who are sick and stay home while sick.
A. Why not try one of the free workouts being offered by the Pleasence Sports Centre: https://www.ed.ac.uk/sport-exercise/keep-active
A. The City of Edinburgh has created a new service which has been developed for anyone who is shielding (this is a form of self-isolation due to being classed as vulnerable/high risk and is recommended for an extended period of time) and is struggling with accessing medical or food supplies. The information can be found on the ScotGov website and NHS Inform. The details for the City of Edinburgh Shielding Support team found in the ScotGov document are:
A. This is covered by the usual rules in place for managing Authorised Interruptions of Study (AIS). In brief, sickness leave up to 30 days does not require any special administrative action or approval (students should inform their supervisors and the IGS admin team if they need to take sick leave up to 30 days). If absence is likely to extend beyond 30 days then application for an AIS is appropriate . Students on UKRI/EPSRC CDT programmes, or funded by an EPSRC DTA, CASE, iCASE or NPIF scholarship are entitled to sick pay for up to 13 weeks (in any 12 month period) so long as it is covered and evidenced by an official medical certificate.
A. Self-isolation mandated by current guidance may lead to significant time off work even in the absence of acute sickness. We acknowledge that closure of buildings which restricts access to research facilities may have an impact on research progress. For some, significant remote scholarly activity related to the PGR degree being studied will be possible, for example in the form of thesis or paper writing, and for such students’ progress may not be greatly impaired. For others, however, this may impede research progress and will potentially impede completion of the research phase of the degree. This has implications for possible extension requests, with attendant issues around funding to cover such extensions. It is acknowledged that new policy will have to be developed to permit special consideration in such cases. Funders are currently formulating their own policies, and Informatics will provide updates as the landscape becomes clearer. Some funders’ guidance is emerging and may be available to PGR supervisors through the Edinburgh Research Office at https://www.ed.ac.uk/research-office/covid-19-research-funding.
A. The University has temporarily moved to a policy of electronic-only submission for research degree dissertations and this will last throughout the period of disruption. Students should submit the electronic version via Datasync (for theses submitted for assessment) and PURE (for final theses) by their Maximum End Date as usual. Detailed guidance is available here https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/research-support/publish-research/scholarly-communications/how-to-deposit-theses. Please contact the IGS@inf.ed.ac.uk if you have any questions about the submission process.
A. It has been agreed that internal examiners should organise a remote viva where all participants are located at different sites. Please see the updated College guidnace on remote vivas (below). Ideally, an approved person should still accompany the student; however, it is acknowledged that this may also present an issue to the viva taking place. Therefore, students will be permitted to undertake the viva on their own where necessary.
A. Remote vivas require College approval and the “Remote Viva Form” should be submitted to College for approval. The updated remote viva form (below) asks for written approval from participants – please note that e-mail confirmation will suffice. Our webpages have been updated at http://web.inf.ed.ac.uk/infweb/student-services/igs/phd/exam-process/examination-process but please contact the IGS@inf.ed.ac.uk if you have any concerns or need help with the arrangements for your upcoming remote viva.
A. If you are going to undertake your viva remotely, you may feel even more worried about this prospect than if it were face to face. The first thing to remember is that almost all of the advice given for preparing and going through a face-to-face viva is also applicable for remote vivas.
Preparation for your viva is key. There is lots of useful advice about how to prepare for your viva online. A lot of it is summarised in the IAD guide to preparing for the viva (at the bottom of this page): https://www.ed.ac.uk/institute-academic-development/postgraduate/doctoral/advice-support/writing-up
Take time in advance to make sure your computer is set up properly. Test out settings with friends or family members to make sure this is not an added stress on the day.
Mock vivas can also be very useful and so talk to your supervisor about having a virtual mock viva. This will allow you to make sure you are familiar with the technology as well as practicing formulating answers to questions.
During the viva much of the same advice on face to face vivas can be followed. Try to relax, take your time and ask examiners to repeat questions if you need more clarity or have not heard the full question. Make sure you have some water handy. One difference online is that it may be more difficult to pick up on facial expressions or other body language. Try not to focus on this, in an examination situation it is often quite difficult to read such cues even if face to face. Instead, think about your material and talking about your research.
Some useful sites and links include Viva Survivor: http://viva-survivors.com/