COVID-19 – Latest MDX updates and FAQs
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    PGR COVID-19 update

    This guidance should be read in conjunction with communications already circulated by the University on our UniHub web pages.

    You are still very much part of our research community and it is important that we all support each other through difficult times, as students, friends and colleagues. Thank you for working together to help one another to stay safe, to find new ways to carry on with all you are doing to hold our amazing community together.

    If you have any questions or concerns please address them to your supervisor and the Research Degrees Administration Team.

    Staying connected

    It is important, more than ever, for you to stay engaged with our online networks and communities, e.g. with the MDX research student Facebook group, Twitter, and Instagram account.

    Check out our #TeamMDX resources, including wellbeing tips, podcasts, videos, tutorials, blogs and more. MDXSU are running a range of online events. So why not take a break from your research to play online games, learn new recipes, or join a Netflix party?!

    We recognise that the current situation is stressful for everyone and that is a big challenge to adapt to new ways of working and socialising. The counselling service will remain available online, as will other student welfare and support services.

    • Frequently Asked Questions

    These FAQs have been written specifically for postgraduate research students and supplement student guidance available.

    Please ensure that you read the FAQs for research students studying on a Student Route visa alongside general guidance relating to visa and immigration information found in the 'Student with Student Route Visa' FAQs.

    • Support for students

      • How do I engage with my supervisory team?

        University staff are working from home with no face-to-face supervision or meetings taking place. Your supervisors will be contacting you individually to identify the best approach.

        During this period of uncertainty, it is important that you maintain regular contact with your supervisors and keep us informed of any changes to your overall health and wellbeing.

        Please note that you can continue to access the Research Degrees Administration Team with any queries and concerns you might have.

      • What if a member of the supervisory team becomes ill?

        Supervisory team members have been asked to work especially closely together to ensure continuity of supervision in the case of illness. In the event that both supervisors fall ill, alternative arrangements will be considered.

      • What if I become ill?

        As early as possible, inform your Director of Studies and the Research Degrees Administration Team. Please also refer to the health advice on UniHub.

      • Can I access specialist facilities/equipment?

        Some practice-based research students along with those who need access to laboratories or other specialist equipment, may not be able to continue with their research until such time that the campus re-opens.

        Discussions with your supervisors should identify what action is needed. Depending on where you are in your research journey would determine the best way to support you.

      • How do I access the Library and Learning Support Services?
      • Can I still participate in the Researcher Development Programme?

        For the foreseeable future the Researcher Development Programme will be offered through a series of webinars. Details of the webinar sessions can be found on the PGR UniHub pages, along with recordings of past sessions.

        Recordings of the Wellbeing sessions can be found on the Training and Development UniHub pages.

        Writing retreats - We are looking at ways we can continue delivery of these and will be in touch again soon.

      • What if I am conducting fieldwork?

        Please inform the Research Degrees Administration Team immediately if you are currently undertaking fieldwork.

        We need to make sure we are in regular contact with you especially if the fieldwork is being undertaken abroad. There may be a need to postpone or cease this fieldwork, particularly if you are accessing NHS & Trusts sites to interview staff or patients.

        All current fieldwork risk assessments will be reviewed in order to minimise risk to participants and research and wherever possible supervisors will confirm course of action you need to take in relation to fieldwork activity.

        Any new requests made for fieldwork should not be approved or supported until further notice.

      • How can I stay connected to the research community?

        It is important, more than ever, that you stay engaged with the networks and communities:

        You have access to a multitude of resources as part of #TeamMDX, and keep in touch with your supervisory team as well as the Research Degrees Administration Team.

      • What should I do about pre-arranged meetings?

        If you currently have meetings arranged with sponsors, or other stakeholders etc. regarding your research, these should be undertaken remotely or postponed.

    • Research Degree Progression and Examination

      • What are the implications to my milestone attainment?

        On a case by case basis and where the impact of COVID-19 has interfered with a student’s ability to continue with their research, the university will work with the student to identify the best course of action for them. Please inform your supervisors and the Research Degrees Administration Team if you feel that milestone achievements are affected in any way. We will do all we can to ensure that you are not disadvantaged by this situation.

        There is an expectation that most research students will continue to engage with their studies. Students should be able to progress with their research and adhere to the deadlines set out with their supervisory team except in cases where progress has been impacted by COVID-19.

        It would be advisable to revisit your research plans to ensure your studies remain on track; and continue to discuss plans on effective remote working with your supervisors.

        Some research will be at greater risk e.g. access to specialist space and equipment. If your research is significantly delayed or you have been personally impacted by COVID-19 you must notify your supervisory team and the Research Degrees Administration Team as soon as you can.

      • Can my Registration and Transfer/PAP panel still take place?

        Arrangements for remote panels can be made. Please contact your Director of Studies and/or the Research Degrees Administration Team to discuss this further.

      • How do I submit my thesis?

        All theses should now be submitted electronically. This applies whether you are due to submit your thesis for the first time, or if you are submitting a corrected thesis.

        Students should send their thesis to the Research Degrees Administration Team with one of the following statements added to the subject field:

        • ELECTRONIC THESIS SUBMISSION Faculty (ACI/PSS/ST) and your ID number and name
        • ELECTRONIC THESIS RE-SUBMISSION Faculty (ACI/PSS/ST) and your ID number and name

        Once received the team will check that all necessary exam arrangements are in place and the External Examiners right to work has been authorised.

        Practice based students will need to seek guidance from their Director of Studies to identify alternative ways in which the examiners might engage with and view their practice.

      • How will my progress be considered?

        We are currently reviewing the timing of the progression boards and establishing how these might work remotely. We will update this section as soon as possible.

      • How do I notify the university of any extenuating circumstances?

        Extenuating circumstances will be lodged for any students who notify us that they are unable to continue with their studies as a result of COVID-19.

        These will be referred to if applications for extensions to milestone deadlines or maximum candidature period are made or to explain reasons for absence and to address financial statuses.

        Extenuating circumstances for all other cases will continue to be dealt with as normal.

      • How do I interrupt/temporarily withdraw from studies?

        Any student who is unable to continue with their studies will need to complete an interruption form. Many cases will need to be considered case by case so that decisions made on progression, extensions etc. are appropriate for each student. This would include liaison with our Finance department to ensure no student is financially disadvantaged.  

        Some situations where an interruption should be considered:

        • Illness (differentiating between COVID-19 illness and other type of illness)
        • Unable to continue with studies due to COVID-19 related incidences
        • Unable to access specialist equipment e.g. labs, specialist rooms, due to campus closure
        • Called to support front-line COVID-19 activity.
      • How will any financial implications be managed?

        Middlesex is providing opportunities for research supervision and assessment of research degrees to continue. Full fees will still be charged as students should be able to progress with their research and adhere to the deadlines set out with their supervisory team.

        Students who are impacted financially by COVID-19 should discuss their situation with their Director of Studies and the Research Degrees Administration team.

        Situations vary so considerations will be made on a case by case basis.

        Guidance from UKRI

        We recognise that students may find themselves unable to complete essential tasks and/or experiments in order to be ready to submit their thesis, for example due to illness, caring responsibilities or departmental or institution closures. To avoid unnecessary pressure on students, students should continue to receive their stipends and extensions to submission dates should be awarded when needed.

        We recognise that extensions to submission dates due to COVID-19 will be reflected in Research Organisations’ future submission data. Student health and wellbeing should be the priority during this unprecedented and uncertain time and no penalties will be applied to Research Organisations as a result of COVID-19 extensions.’

        Please see UKRI Training Grants Specific Guidance

      • I am experiencing financial hardship. What support is available?

        Please review the Financial Support FAQ section. If there is anything in addition to this advice that you need assistance with please contact your Director of Studies and the Research Degrees Administration Team.

      • Can I still attend my VIVA?

        During this period, the University is now able to offer students the opportunity of undertaking their VIVA examination remotely. Read the UK Council for Graduate Education on this.

        All parties must agree with the requirements of a remote viva before arrangements progress.

    • Advice for Student Route visa postgraduate research students

      • I have returned home, what does that mean for me?

        If you are still able to engage with your studies, please ensure that this has been approved by your supervisory team and send the Research Degrees Administration Team the following information:

        • evidence of supervisory team approval (e.g. email approval)
        • the date that you left the UK/ plan to leave the UK
        • the address you will be staying at during this period.
      • I am unable to engage with my studies, what should I do?

        If for any reason you are unable to engage with your studies, The Home Office are expecting us to issue students with letters of authorised absence. Please advise the Research Degrees Administration Team if this is the case and:

        • There are risk factors and you are self-isolating
        • You share your home with people with high risk factors
        • You have returned home and are unable to engage
        • Access to specialist equipment due to campus closure.
      • Do I still need to sign in fortnightly?

        The Home Office recognises the current situation is exceptional and will not take any compliance action against students who are unable to attend their studies due to the coronavirus outbreak.

        As a research student studying in the UK on a Student Route visa, this means that you are not required to come onto campus to register your attendance fortnightly.

        You are, however, required to have contact with your supervisory team on a minimum of a fortnightly basis.

        Your supervisors will be contacting you individually to identify the best approach to this; a variety of methods will be utilised, e.g. by using Skype, Zoom, or telephone.

        The Research Degrees Administration Team will also be communicating with your supervisory teams to confirm that you are engaging with your studies.

    • Updates to University events

      • Can I still attend graduation?

        Graduation has been postponed. Please review the Postponement of Graduation FAQ section.

      • Will the Research Student Summer Conference still go ahead?

        With regret we have decided to cancel this event until Spring/Summer 2021. We will recommence planning for this shortly. It has been agreed that the theme of the conference will remain the same and any abstract submissions received can be carried forward. Students will have the option to resubmit if they wish to.

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