Professor Dame Jessica Corner: Supporting our postgraduate research students

October 23rd, 2020

Although we have been able to re-establish and grow our on-campus research over the last few months, we recognise the pandemic is continuing to have a severe impact on the studies of some of our postgraduate research students.

Be assured that we are continually monitoring the changing picture, including local and national restrictions and funder policies, and will review our policies as necessary to support PGRs in the best way possible.

Extensions of up to six months have been given to all UK doctoral PGRs whose registered period of study would have originally concluded between 1 March 2020 and 1 October 2021, and to all UK PGRs who entered ‘Thesis Pending’ on or after 30 September 2019. These extensions have no additional fees payable by the student.

Financial support is available to support extensions for University of Nottingham scholarship holders and UKRI, Wellcome Trust and British Heart Foundation-funded PGRs. To date extension funding has been awarded to over 300 PGRs. The decision to offer extension funding to UoN scholarship holders recognises the impact of the coronavirus crisis on highly valued members of our research community.

The University cannot yet make any commitments on extensions for PGRs whose registered period of study ends after 1 October 2021, or on stipend funding for UKRI or University of Nottingham-funded PGRs finishing after 31 March 2021.  We are however speaking to funders about their future plans and in doing that, we are planning how to best support you. We expect that the University will revert to the normal process for managing extensions for PGRs whose registered period of study ends after 1 October 2021, while continuing to take the impact of Covid19 on your studies into account.

PGRs from diverse backgrounds may face additional challenges that arise during their period of doctoral research. In consultation with PGRs from across the University, The Researcher Academy has created a guide specifically for research supervisors that gives some helpful pointers of things to consider when supervising and supporting PGRs.

Exuberant Kinds (part of the ADAPT scheme) is a peer support group for international PhD students and may be helpful for those feeling isolated and struggling to stay on track with their work. Contact them through Moodle.

Our Graduate Centres  are being reconfigured and re-opened when Covid-secure, to provide bookable study spaces for PGRs. Graduate Centres in Highfields House (Arts and Social Sciences) and in the Engineering and Science Learning Centre are currently open, and others will follow. Space in Graduate Centres will be available for booking on a referral basis for PGRs who do not have suitable home study environments, or who need space when on campus for periods between other commitments, such as lab work or demonstrating.

We are committed to engaging with our PGRs. Faculties are running local PGR Town Halls to keep you informed and continue conversations on improving your experience. A ‘Getting in Shape’ programme aimed at improving the postgraduate journey will start looking at and improving PGR processes next month. This will continue into the next year, with input and feedback from PGRs central to its delivery.

Finally, the research team and I would like to offer our sincere support to all our staff, postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers and students who are affected by the recent distressing events in Nigeria. If you are in need of help or support at this time, please contact your supervisor or line manager, and for PGRs, supervisors, PGR director or Researcher Academy Faculty Lead.

Professor Dame Jessica Corner
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange

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