Frequently asked questions

Doctoral Researchers

As a Doctoral Researcher, please read the staff FAQs too. Wherever the FAQ refers to your manager, you should interpret this as your supervisor. Below are some specific FAQs that relate to Doctoral Researchers.

Message to Loughborough University's Doctoral Researchers

Professor Liz Peel, Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor (Doctoral College) and Professor Robert Allison, Vice-Chancellor, address Doctoral Researchers in response to the Coronavirus situation.

Excellent communications between you and your supervisors is now more important than ever. If you have not yet spoken to your supervisors about the current situation then you should do so without delay. You should refer to the staff guidance rather than the student guidance on the main University website, or both if there is no conflict or disagreement between them.

I am in financial hardship, what should I do?

If you are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic you may be eligible for support from the University’s hardship fund. Further information is available here:

https://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/sass/finance/hf/

If you are a UK or EU student living in England, you may be eligible to apply for a UK Government doctoral loans to support the cost of your studies (up to £26,445 in the 2020/21 academic year). The loan is suitable for full-time and part-time postgraduate research students undertaking programmes lasting up to eight years. Loan repayments will begin after you have completed your programme and have an annual income of over £21,000. Students from Wales also have access to government funding for postgraduate study www.gov.uk/doctoral-loan

I’m due to submit my thesis by the 30 June but I’m going to miss my submission deadline as a result of COVID-19 disruption. What should I do?

All doctoral researchers completing R3 or an R3 extension period in June 2020 will receive a fee waiver for three months. This means that no extension fees will apply until September 2020 at the earliest. Given the unfolding COVID-19 situation, any charging of extension fees from September 2020 onwards will remain subject to review.

You do not need to take any action to receive the fee waiver. The Doctoral College Office will automatically apply this once we receive the end of part progression review documentation from your School.

 

Please contact your School Administrator in the first instance to discuss your extension request.

 

As a Doctoral Researcher, can I work remotely?

The guidance provided to university staff regarding remote working applies equally to Doctoral Researchers.

The majority of our Doctoral Researchers will still need to work from home as lockdown eases, however some of our researchers have now started returning to laboratories, where appropriate social distancing has been put in place. This is at the discretion of the Dean of each School. We advise that you discuss your specific circumstances with your supervisors who will be able to advice if a return to your School is possible.

If you have medically diagnosed underlying health conditions, are over seventy or pregnant you should work remotely in accordance with the staff FAQs with immediate effect. (Wherever the FAQ refers to your manager, you should interpret this as your supervisor).

How will be progression be affected?

In accordance with staff guidance, we expect Doctoral Researchers to be remote working. Although you are likely to experience disruption to normal working practices, we encourage you to work with your supervisors to plan for such disruption by reorganising tasks wherever possible.

As it is likely that social distancing will remain in place for some time you should be prepared to apply contingency planning that will take this into consideration. In some cases contingency plans may span the entire duration if your PhD and involve some fundamental changes to your methods or approach.

Whilst this represents a huge challenge for Doctoral Researchers and their supervisors this adaptability will help keep delays to the PhD to an absolute minimum, so that you can move on to the next stage of your career as smoothly as possible. 

If your personal circumstances or the nature of your research means that you feel your progression has been significantly impacted, you may submit a mitigating circumstances form at the time of your next progression review board.

PLEASE NOTE: If you wish to submit a mitigating circumstance claim and you been unwell having contracted COVID-19, evidence is not required.

For all other claims evidence is required, but Schools may apply more flexibility than usual, recognising that many services will be under increased pressure at this time.

How will my stipend be affected?

Some students who are nearing the end of their funded period, have faced significant disruption as a result of the pandemic, and are in receipt of UKRI or University funding may be eligible for short (up to six month) funded extensions.  Given the individual nature of doctoral programmes, the disruption is being monitored on a case-by-case basis, and in line with UKRI requirements.

The Doctoral College has already undertaken some analysis of those who meet the UKRI’s eligibility criteria and we will be in contact with students and supervisors in the coming weeks to discuss further.

If you wish to discuss your eligibility, please contact your supervisor in the first instance.

Information for UKRI-funded students is accessible here: https://www.ukri.org/news/coronavirus-impact-on-ukri-supported-research/

Should I continue meeting with my supervisor?

Yes, we expect students to continue with their monthly supervisory meetings. These may be via Skype / telephone if you are remote working. Notes should be saved on Co-tutor.

If you are unwell, or on a formal leave of absence this will not apply.

Will my viva go ahead if we move to remote working?

We are approving vivas via Skype (or similar) during this period. If you, or an examiner, become unwell it may be necessary to reschedule. 

Please contact the Doctoral College Office to discuss further if either of these scenarios apply.

Can I submit my thesis if we move to remote working?

We are only accepting electronic submissions at present. Please contact the Doctoral College Office to discuss further.

I’m a Doctoral Researcher with concerns about my Tier 4 visa. What is the University advising?

If you are continuing your research degree, working remotely in the UK

You should continue to meet your supervisors remotely (via video conferencing software, or telephone) and ensure that your monthly meetings are recorded on Co-Tutor. We shall continue to sponsor such students who are engaging with their studies and meeting the necessary progression requirements and your visa will not be affected.

If you are continuing your research degree, working remotely from your home country

We are aware of a number of students who returned home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, or who have been able to return to the UK since the pandemic has escalated in recent weeks. If you are based outside of the UK and have not yet informed us please do so as soon as possible using the email pgresearch@lboro.ac.uk. Please can you also ensure that your current home address is up to date by using the Self-Service portal.

You should continue to meet your supervisors remotely (via video conferencing software, or telephone) and ensure that your monthly meetings are recorded on Co-Tutor. We shall continue to sponsor such students who are engaging with their studies and meeting the necessary progression requirements and your visa will not be affected. This includes students who have been based outside of the UK for more than 60 days. Please be aware that we are still planning on contacting all such Doctoral Researchers after a two month period to ensure that you are well and to ask if you need any additional support at this difficult time.

Please also be aware that the concessions set out in the UKVI guidance will all be kept under regular review and will be withdrawn once the situation returns to normal.

If you are unable to engage with your studies

If you are currently unable to engage with your studies, or are finding that your progression is being severely impacted as a result of COVID-19 it is important that you discuss your circumstances with your supervisory team as soon as possible. We hope that for most students adjustments can be put in place that will enable you to continue with your studies even if this means your research plan needs to be adapted. If you are considering a leave of absence please contact the DCO so we can discuss the potential implications on your Tier 4 visa status as soon as possible.

Please be reassured that providing you continue to engage with your programme, the University will continue to sponsor you under Tier 4 and your visa will not be affected. It is envisaged that this will allow the vast majority of Tier 4 students to be able to complete studies within the normal expected timescale without requiring further visa permission.

If students need visa advice, they should contact the Student Advice and Support Service.

I have unexpected caring responsibilities as a result of a closure of a nursery/school/day centre or other care facility. What should I do?

If you are unable to work due to unexpected caring responsibilities, we will deem you to be working from home and you should follow the advice set out for staff who have been instructed to self-isolate.

We recognise that you might find it difficult to work while caring for dependents, and we ask you to do whatever you are able to do. Please ensure that you keep in close contact with your supervisors during this period. If you feel you are not able to continue with your research you should discuss this with them as soon as possible.

You may wish to submit a mitigating circumstances form at the next progression board if you feel your circumstances have been exceptional and there has been significant disruption to your PhD.

Can I continue to take part in Doctoral College workshops and events?

All face-to-face Doctoral College workshops and events have been cancelled for the foreseeable future. I If you are booked onto a workshop or event will receive a cancellation notice. 

You should continue to consider your developmental needs.  We have developing online resources to enable researchers to continue their development whilst working remotely, via Learn. You should also look at opportunities to complete developmental activities outside of a formal setting; the Doctoral College Handbook contains further guidance and some examples.

 

What do I do if my supervisors fall ill?

If both your primary and secondary supervisor fall ill, or you are unable to contact them for a period of more than a week please let your DDP or School administrator know so that we can check on everyone’s wellbeing during this challenging time.

The Doctoral College and Doctoral College Office plan to remain operational, albeit working largely remotely, therefore you should ideally contact us via the usual channels. Due to the volume of enquiries we are receiving there may be some delay in our response, and we ask for your patience at this challenging time.

 

 

I am an international student and I am being threatened and abused. What should I do?

We take all allegations of abuse and harassment very seriously. You can report the matter to the University via the Online Incident Reporting Portal, the Security team in Loughborough, at main reception at Loughborough University London or the Police. If you feel in immediate danger you should dial 999 and ask for the Police.

My research involves face to face data collection. Can I continue?

Investigations involving human participants

In accordance with government guidance to reduce social contacts, staff and students are asked to pause until further notice on-going or planned research data collection that involves face to face interaction with participants (except in exceptional circumstances, for example studies associated directly with the national COVID-19 research programme, and such exceptional requests should be directed to the Chair of the Sub-Committee, M.R.Lindley@lboro.ac.uk.)

Where research is simply paused for a number of months the Ethics Approvals Sub-Committee will not require notification, but if significant changes to research design are required a project amendment will need to be submitted in the normal way.  Studies can be moved online without requiring an amendment, unless this substantially changes the study in which case an amendment is required. 

An expedited approval route for COVID-19 studies is being implemented.  Please contact LEON@lboro.ac.uk for details.

 

Can I still apply for the July 2020 start date?

We have taken the difficult decision to withdraw the July 2020 start date. Our next registration date will now be October 2020.

We will be contacting all July 2020 offer holders over the coming weeks to discuss deferring their offer to October. If you are affected by these changes please contact your proposed supervisors in the first instance to discuss further.

Will there be a graduation ceremony?

As you may have anticipated, with the current restrictions on both the movement of people and size of permitted gatherings, we have now made the difficult decision to postpone the University summer graduation ceremonies to the Easter vacation 2021. We guarantee you two things. First, we will hold graduation ceremonies so you, your family and friends can celebrate your achievements at Loughborough University with your staff. Second, because the format we adopt for graduation is so successful, we will not be changing it. Put simply, this is no more than a postponement of a very special day that we all enjoy and all want to be part of.

The University will make arrangements to post Degree Certificates and official mark transcripts to students, during summer 2020, once awards have been confirmed by the exam boards.