Supervisory Panel and RSPB dates
We are committed to ensuring as much flexibility as possible at this challenging time. Whilst we remain hopeful that the majority of the Supervisory Panels will be able to take place at the usual time, it’s understandable that some may not be able to.
Where students and panel members are able to attend (virtually) a Supervisory Panel at the usual time, they should continue to do so. These progress recommendations should be considered by the RSPB that is already in place, and reported to the PGRE Team by the relevant original deadline.
For students or panel members who, due to the impact of COVID-19, are unable to attend (virtually) a Supervisory Panel in order for a progress decision to be made by the original deadline, the Panel should contact the PGRE Team for advice.
Extended Tuition Stipend
We recognise that, for some of you, the effects of COVID-19 may be so substantive that they prevent you from completing your study in time. The thought of extension may create further anxieties. We have developed a programme of support for those who find themselves in this situation.
If you are in the final year of your studies, the pandemic disruption may prevent you from submitting your thesis on time. You can seek an extension through your department once you have a plan of work for the extension period agreed with your supervisor. This also needs to be agreed with your Supervisory Panel and RSPB.
The Extended Tuition Stipend has been applied to PGR students who were expected to submit their thesis between 1 March 2020 and 26 April 2021 (the start of the summer term 2021). The University has extended this stipend and students whose expected submission deadline is between 27 April 2021 and 25 April 2022 (the start of the Summer Term 2022), will also be eligible. Students who are granted an extension will be awarded a University of Essex Extended Tuition Stipend, which will directly pay their University fees for the period of extension.
Extended Tuition Stipend eligibility
The Extended Tuition Stipend applies to PGR students who are expected to submit their thesis between 1 March 2020 and 25 April 2022 (the start of the Summer Term 2022).
- students who first registered before October 2018, whose maximum period (thesis submission date) ends between 1 March 2020 and 25 April 2022
- students who first registered from October 2018 and whose standard period ends between 1 March 2020 and 25 April 2022. OR students who have been permitted to enter a period of completion which ends between 1 March 2020 and 25 April 2022.
How to seek an extension and the Extended Tuition Stipend
For the summer term SP and RSPB recommendations, we expect some requests for extensions for students due to submit in October 2021 (or before). However, we can foresee circumstances in which students who are due to submit in January or April 2022 (or any time in between), whose progress has been affected by the current COVID-19 Advanced or Enhanced Protection Measures, will want to request an extension now.
We have advised academic departments to ensure that these discussions are noted on the SP reports and for a recommendation to be made to either request the extension now (evidencing why) or to note that an extension may be sought nearer the submission deadline if the COVID-19-related factors impeding your progress remain and cannot be mitigated against.
The request for an extension will be submitted via the SP and RSPB and the PGRE Team will automatically apply the Extended Tuition Stipend to all eligible students. This will also be the case for any subsequent requests received via the SP and RSPB in the Autumn or Spring Terms.
Applying for an extension - expected submission date after 25 April 2022
The current arrangements relating to extensions and the Extended Tuition Stipend apply to students who are expected to submit their thesis between 1 March 2020 and 25 April 2022 (the start of the Summer Term 2022). If your expected submission date is after 25 April 2022 you are not eligible for an extension or the Extended Tuition Stipend at present, but we are reviewing our guidance and options available to these cohorts as the current pandemic evolves.
We are not expecting extension requests from departments concerning students with an expected submission date after 25 April 2022, as efforts to mitigate should be pursued and it is too early to judge what the overall impact will be on your studies and whether you are able to subsequently progress such that any “lost time”, due to adjusting your research and/or changing you timeline, is redeemed. However, we would strongly encourage students and their SPs to document any impact on their studies that has been caused by the current pandemic and/or the move to between Advanced and Enhanced Protection Measures. It is important that any impact is clearly documented and kept on subsequent SP reports, as well as subsequent assessments of the success of any mitigating factors implemented in subsequent months (and years), so that this account can be considered if any extension request were to be submitted when you approach the end of your standard period.
Notwithstanding the above guidance, if you are a student with an expected submission date after 25 April 2022 and you experience extenuating circumstances, you may report those to your SP and consideration of appropriate action (including a recommendation for an extension) can be made in cases where this is deemed to be the only justifiable option – for example, in cases of long-term illness or the effects of bereavement (whether COVID-19-related or not).
Reporting extenuating circumstances and evidence required
It is important that details of any extenuating circumstances and their impact is clearly documented and kept on the SP and RSPB reports. We understand that circumstances may change month to month as the situation changes, e.g. schools going back, moving away from Advanced Protection Measures etc., however, the narrative you provide needs to be well-documented.
Your SP and RSPB will not expect the same level of evidence that would normally be requested, and it is acknowledged that in some cases you may not be able to get evidence (including medical evidence). As you are keeping in contact with your Supervisors and ensuring they are aware of your circumstances, we would expect you SP and RSPB to operate with reciprocal transparency and trust. So, for example, instead of a medical letter, you might provide an explanation of how you have been affected and for what period of time, either on your SP report or on an extenuating circumstances form.
Applying for extensions to resubmission deadlines
Extensions to resubmission deadlines are normally granted in exceptional cases only, following exceptional events which were unforeseen, and beyond the student’s control; for example, medical/health issues; personal life events; and exceptional pressures of work. However, we anticipate that this may also be appropriate if your progress with your corrections has been affected by the pandemic. You will be expected to provide details of any extenuating circumstances and their impact your studies and ability to submit your thesis by the deadline.