ALL POSTGRADUATE UPDATE COVID-19
*If you have any concerns about anything posted below please EMAIL me, not message me on Facebook. I am at work 7 - 12 hours a day and more likely to see emails! email@example.com*
Hi everyone, just an update with the movements I have managed today. I'm sorry this is relatively late - I had Guild trustee board meetings, alongside trying to represent the sheer amount of human experiences and different and complex circumstances, it's really taking a lot of time and emotion. I had meetings, emails, phone calls with different members of the University and have made the following progress for today.
Firstly, Doctoral College is sending out comms which will supplement the Registrars emails. I believe a lot of the confusion as to what does and doesn’t apply to PGs last week was because some PGs were receiving both staff and student emails which some, both, or neither of the contents being relevant. This should be being addressed both in a Registrars email you would have received this afternoon, and in communications from the doctoral college.
TAUGHT STUDENTS THIRD TERM MODULES
Please prepare for these to be delivered online the same way modules for term 2 finished being. Of course, this will be continuously reviewed and updated if the circumstances permit.
TAUGHT STUDENTS AND: THE "NO DETRIMENT" POLICY
The no detriment policy I worked on last week absolutely does apply to PGT assignments (this is why I - as the PG rep - was working on it!). I reported back to the University that the emails weren't clear and seemed only to refer to undergraduates. You should have received an email from the registrar this afternoon clarifying that this policy is for all PGT assignments this term! Please check your emails and if you need any clarification let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org -
TAUGHT STUDENTS DISSERTATIONS:
Currently I still don't have an answer as to whether these will be permitted under the 'No Detriment Policy.’ Of course, I am arguing that there needs to be some consideration. The University is still arguing that autumn is a long way off, and the global conditions may have changed. I have been following the news and I am not so sure. A lot of the concern with some MA dissertations is that they obviously act as steppingstones to PhD research, sometimes acting as a proposal and completing these differently would be detrimental to your preparation and put you at a disadvantage when applying for funding. This is not what we want. The University do have your best possible intentions at heart, and are engaging with pedagogical, mental health, and discipline specific experts to ensure that both your wellbeing and your academic career are protected. I am really keen to hear back from as many people as possible about this and the impact COVID-19 is having on your ability to do your PGT Dissertation. Please email me with any and all concerns, big or small: Sunday.email@example.com
You will have an absolute answer by Friday 3rd April, and I will continue to fight for the best possible outcome for you by then.
The Doctoral College have stressed that for everyone’s mental health we approach the coming months as goal-orientated and not deadline-orientated. Upgrades will continue to be run as the schedule is set as closely as possible, but these are and will continue to be movable. Ideally upgrades can happen online during lockdown (and there have already been several examples of this occurring this week, with minor interruptions or problems). There will be issues around internet connection, appropriate space to take the upgrade, and time/headspace to prepare for it. Therefore, in some cases there may be the need to postpone it. You will need to contact your supervisor and college as soon as possible if you think this will be the case. Which leads me on to:
EXTENSIONS VS. INTERRUPTIONS
The University approach needs to be inline with UKRI and therefore they are advising extensions. No one will be turned down. This is because extensions tend to be granted in “exceptional circumstances,” which I saw, and argued, us as all, blanketly, find ourselves in, without any explanation. Every single PGR is in an “exceptional circumstance.” It is very likely to be confirmed that there will be no fees attached to any extension. However, you WILL still need to apply for them, they won’t be automatic. Some students won’t need them and are continuing to work through the lockdown normally, and in some cases e.g. International Students, the anxiety is actually around getting the research finished and getting home to their loved ones.
Extensions will be granted for other programme deadlines as well as for overall candidateships (e.g. for upgrades etc.). Deadlines for admin/paperwork etc will be at college/discipline level.
Interruptions will be for “Personal, medical, or financial circumstances.” Therefore, extensions will be the blanket default for all of us impacted by COVID-19 and interruptions will be reserved for those who have met significant hardship during the lockdown. Please think very carefully about applying for an interruption as you will not have access to your supervisor, resources, and in funded cases, your stipend. Obviously this may be the option for some, but think carefully as you may be able to manage your circumstances with an extension, especially is stipend extension is granted.
As mentioned before the University are working with UKRI. UKRI are agreeing to the cost of extensions on a CASE BY CASE basis. This is far from ideal. The University and I will continue to lobby them for leniency. The extension process will be fully developed in partnership with UKRI, throughout April.
For student funded by the University scholarship schemes, the University is asking the government to help with the cost of extensions. This is a huge exercise which is about totalling up all the thousands of students and what the amount is, and the extent of funds needed. I know that this is an incredibly anxious time for you all and I will absolutely endeavour to get clear answers on this asap.
Self-funded students absolutely have not been forgotten about. There are a lot of conversations around supporting you in your ability to study and again, I will update you as soon as I have the answer. It is worth knowing that the COVID-19 hardship fund (to be agreed this week!) will be open to ALL PG STUDENTS regardless of funding status.
STUDENTS IN ISOLATION
I am aware that there are students still in Exeter. Please contact the University’s Corona Crisis Team so that they can check on your welfare and ensure you have everything you need.
The Doctoral College should have uploaded comprehensive FQAs by tomorrow.
Once again, I am so sorry that not everything is as clarified as we want it to be. I am working incredibly hard and as fast as I can. I know that DVC Education, and the Doctoral College are also trying to work out the best possible circumstances for you.
Please continue to prioritise the health of yourself and your loved ones.