Guidance for PGR supervisors: Preparing for 2020-2021

As we move toward a new academic year, this guidance is designed to help you plan your PGR supervision.

Existing PGRs under your supervision should soon be able to re-start research that may have been paused due to the restricted access campus. Some PGRs are already accessing labs and other research facilities on campus, since the phased reopening in June. We realise that access to all buildings on campus is not yet possible, but more of campus is opening each week as we move toward full reopening by the 11 September.   We know that some PGRs will face limited access for some time as a consequence of social distancing restrictions, and that supervisors will need to support students to work in different locations to normal in some cases.   Some creative solutions to challenges posed by online supervision can be found on the UKCGE website.

More information about campus reopening can be found on the Phased Campus Reopening webpage.

New PGRs starting in the 2020/21 academic year

If you were planning to start a new postgraduate researcher at the beginning of the coming academic year, the university is committed to supporting you to do so. If it is possible for your new PGR to start their PGR degree, they should do so as normal. Whilst access to research facilities may continue to be disrupted, we expect the situation to continually improve. It may be appropriate for your new PGR to begin with some remote online training, or work remotely on literature based research in the first instance. It may be appropriate for your new PGR to begin working on campus with the range of measures in place to support safe working.  The University Graduate School (UGS) has developed an online induction programme and will be delivering a range of social, wellbeing, and developmental events and activities during an extended Welcome with details available on the UGS events webpage. The Common Room Project provides virtual spaces to support PGRs by facilitating a cross-institutional community of PGRs.

For overseas students, CAS are now being issued and a large number of students will be able to travel to the UK since the guidance on quarantine changed on the 10 July. We understand, however, that the situation can change quickly both here and in their home country. If it isn’t possible for your PGR to travel to the UK at the beginning of the academic year (but they can work remotely) they can still register for, and start, their degree here. In such scenarios, supervisory teams should support students to work remotely in the first instance (as far as this is possible). If your PGR does begin their studies remotely, with supervisions conducted by video or phone, they should still register for a campus based programme. Your student should travel to Birmingham and engage in campus based learning as soon as is appropriate and feasible. They should only register for a distance learning (DL) PhD programme if this is the route of study that you had discussed with them at the time of application and offer. A DL PhD is a PhD that is conducted entirely remotely, for the duration of the degree.

If students have travelled from a region that requires quarantine, or if a student needs to self-isolate, the University will support them. In addition, mechanisms and guidance on applying for leave of absence or extension can be found on the UGS website.

The International Student Team (IST) can provide advice to prospective and current International students, with expertise covering immigration, visas and how to adapt to life at the University.

Arrangements will differ between colleges, schools and departments, and you are best placed to know if the research you and your student have planned can take place as normal. Please keep in touch with your postgraduate student and reassure them that you are planning for their arrival.  If it isn’t possible for your PGR to start the planned work for their degree, then you can consider a later start date. Most PGR programmes offer flexible start dates, so this is not normally a problem, but please discuss this with your local PGR team and Head of School or Department to find the best date for starting your PGR. Please keep in touch with your postgraduate student so everyone is comfortable and clear about what is planned. Once you have agreed an appropriate new start date, please contact our Postgraduate Admissions Team to advise.

We understand that this is a challenging time for both you and your students.  The University Graduate School, along with your local PGR teams, are here to support and advise, as we all work together to ensure that our PGR community can recover and prosper as we emerge from the pandemic.

Further sources of information:

FAQs for future students

FAQs for students

COVID19 Advice for Postgraduate Research (PGRs and Supervisors)

COVID19 Extensions Policy and Criteria

Welcome webpages


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