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Information for Students

Guide to Student Support Services

Find out more about the support and advice services available to you.

This page includes FAQs on the following:

    • Advice and Support
    • International Students
    • Teaching (Semester 2, Academic Year 2019-20)
    • Assessments
    • Travel
    • Erasmus and Study Abroad
    • Academic Year 2020-2021
    • Graduation
    • PhD Students

Advice and Support

  • What action is the University taking to keep students and staff safe and well?

    We have followed all PHA advice and guidance and are communicating regularly with our staff and students. The University's Major Incident Team is overseeing coordination of all relevant activities and liaison with PHA. 

    The Major Incident Team have implemented a number of measures to reduce the risk of spread within the University including the following. There is more information regarding these measures elsewhere on this page.

    • Moving all teaching material online and ceasing face to face teaching and learning activities
    • Identifying alternative forms of assessment in the event that exams can not take place
    • Cancellation/postponement of all field trips
    • Advising against all but essential travel.
    • Assurance that any students who wish to return home and/or return from international placements will not be academically disadvantaged.
    • Asked staff and students, where possible, to adopt social distancing
    • Cancellation of indoor events with attendance in excess of 100 people and outdoor events with attendance in excess of 500 people.
    • Transitioning to a working from home model in line with local Business Continuity Plans.
    • Closing key public areas as outlined

    Beyond the measures announced, the University remains open in accordance with guidance from the Public Health Agency. We are monitoring the situation closely and we continue to provide as much advice, care and support as we can to our University community.

    Further updates will continue to be issued on this FAQs website and by email. 

  • Is the University open and operating as normal?

    While there is limited activity on the campus, the University is still very much open for business. Most staff and students are working and studying remotely, and research is continuing where possible.

    We are monitoring the situation closely in line with government guidance and will advise when it is appropriate to return to campus.

  • Are Students’ Union advice and support services still running?

    The Students’ Union Team continue to provide advice and support services to help support students at this challenging time.

    Find out more at: https://qubsu.org/COVID-19/

  • I feel unwell with symptoms of coronavirus infection (COVID-19) - should I come to the University?

    No.

    If you have symptoms of coronavirus infection (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home and do not leave your house/student accommodation for 14 days from when your symptoms started.

    Please read the public health guidance setting out what you should do if you experience such symptoms: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance.

    Your wellbeing is the University’s first priority. Please do not let any concerns about your work or studies stop you taking this advice.

  • If I am having emotional and wellbeing difficulties – what supports are available to me?

    The University’s Student Disability and Wellbeing services (including Counselling) remains fully operational and available to you by telephone and on-line mediums including; email, MS Team Calls and Skype. This includes 1:1; assessments, consultations, coaching therapeutic interventions and bespoke advice, support and guidance through drop-in appointments.

    To get in touch you can:

    In addition, the service is running a daily social media campaign on self-care tips and a series of webinars focused on wellbeing self-help techniques such as; sleep management, exam and assessment stress and top tips for keeping healthy in lock down. To get notifications and updates on our campaign and webinar series, please follow us on our social media channels:

    The Students Union Advice Centre is also continuing to offer a full service of support to you remotely. This includes independent advice and guidance on academic issues, housing, finances, volunteering, employment, etc. Please visit https://qubsu.org/AdviceSU/ for full details on the support offered through Advice SU.

  • What can I do to stay fit and healthy if social distancing restrictions continue to be implemented?

    Queen’s Sport is playing a very active role in providing free online training sessions as well as providing other health and wellbeing messaging and advice to students. Please visit http://www.queenssport.com/ActivityProgramme/AdultActivityProgramme/ for further information on classes available.

  • I am suffering financial difficulties as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. What support is available from the University?

    The University fully appreciates this is a challenging and anxious time for students and in some cases, this may be exacerbated by financial hardship as a result of the pandemic. Therefore, the University is increasing its hardship funds to support students. This increase is coming from a combination of funds provided by donors and the University. We have also decided to use the money that the University saved as a result of industrial action in the form of withheld pay for this purpose.  The funds will be aimed at students who are experiencing financial hardship caused by the exceptional circumstances as a result of COVID – 19.

    All students are eligible to make an application to the hardship fund.  If you have already received an award this year, you are not precluded from submitting a second application. 

    The University anticipates a large demand for awards from the funds and will work hard to process and pay applications on a timely basis.  You can only apply to the fund using an online application, available by logging into your Qsis Student Account at  https://qsis.qub.ac.uk/     

    For help completing the online application please click here

    All supporting documentation requested during the online application process should be emailed to supportfund@qub.ac.uk.

    If you do not have all documentation requested during the online application process, please submit a minimum of 2 months of recent bank statements, i.e. February and March. Please ensure that ALL bank accounts held are submitted.

    Please note the Student Finance Office is currently closed and supporting documentation can only be submitted by email to the above email address.

  • Where can I access health advice in relation to COVID-19 (Coronavirus)?

    Please follow advice published on the PHA website.

    Northern Ireland now has full access to the NHS 111 helpline service on coronavirus. Callers should press 1 when they are advised. This service is provided in Northern Ireland solely for coronavirus guidance and not for other conditions. 

    In the case of medical emergency, call 999.

  • What precautions should I be taking?

    It makes sense to practice good hygiene and follow advice published on the PHA website.

    Your wellbeing is the University’s first priority. Please do not let any concerns about your work or studies stop you taking this advice.

  • I am anxious about COVID-19 – what support is available?

    We understand this news will cause concern and anxiety among our students, staff, and the wider community. 

    Our immediate concerns are for the affected student and family, along with the continued health and wellbeing of our staff, students and visitors. 

    We are working closely the Public Health Agency, who are responsible for taking the lead in any public health issue of this nature.  

    We are also signposting staff and students to regular updates from PHA. There are a number of support services available which can be accessed via the Student Guidance Centre.

    If you are a member of staff concerned as a result of COVID-19, please contact the Staff Wellbeing Service by emailing wellbeing@qub.ac.uk.

    If you are a student who is concerned as a result of COVID-19, the University’s Student Wellbeing Service can offer support and guidance. Please contact the Student Wellbeing Service by emailing studentwellbeing@qub.ac.uk. A member of staff will get in touch with you directly.

  • I have contacted the NHS 111 helpline and have been advised to self-isolate – what do I need to do?

    The Public Health Agency has provided advice on self-isolation. Read the advice on the Public Health website here and on gov.uk here.

     Further information

  • Call Centre

    We have established an email and call back service for staff and students to try and answer and address any additional questions or concerns. Opening hours are Monday - Friday, 9.00am - 5.00pm, and weekends, 9.00am - 3.00pm. Please refer to this FAQs page in the first instance before getting in contact.

    Please email your query to covid19callcentre@qub.ac.uk and be sure to include your telephone number.

    If you need personal health advice specifically in relation to COVID-19 (coronavirus), you should call the NHS 111 service or your GP. Please do not attend your GP or emergency department without phoning in advance.

  • Queen’s Sport facilities, including the PEC, are closed. Will my fees be refunded?
    • The PEC, Upper Malone, BT1, Mourne Cottage, and the Boathouse are currently closed as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 (coronavirus).
    • All member and staff direct debit collections for the PEC have been suspended until it is safe to re-open.
    • In addition, we will be freezing the membership account of all members who have paid in full, with the time lost due to our closure being added onto the end of their contract.

International Students

  • Further information

    If you have any specific questions about your visa or circumstances please contact ISS directly: iss@qub.ac.uk. In addition, The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) has a dedicated webpage to provide further advice to International Students and is updated regularly.

  • If I decide to stay but my accommodation contract is due to end over the summer what are my options?

    If you are in Queen’s accommodation staff can assist you to extend your accommodation contract. Please email: accommodation@qub.ac.uk to request an extension of your contract over the summer months.

    If you are in private accommodation we advise that you contact your landlord to ascertain whether you can extend your contract over the summer months.

    If your landlord is unable to extend your contract over the summer months, Queen’s Accommodation does offer summer accommodation to students who are not already existing residents. Please email: accommodation@qub.ac.uk to enquire about availability of summer accommodation to meet your needs.

  • If I decide to return home before my accommodation contract is due to end, what do I need to do?

    If you are in Queen’s accommodation please email: accommodation@qub.ac.uk to notify Queen’s accommodation staff of your intention to return home including; the date you intend to leave. Upon receipt of your email a member of the team will get in contact with you to discuss your plans further and offer any assistance where possible.

    If you are in private accommodation, we advise that you contact tour landlord to advise of your intention to return home prior to the end of your tenancy agreement, again it would be helpful to include the date that you intend to leave. The landlord will then be able to advise you of the process for withdrawing from your tenancy agreement early. Please note; that each private landlord is likely to respond to requests differently, so it is unlikely that any two students will be subject to the same terms and conditions.

    If you would like independent advice and guidance with regards ending your tenancy agreement with a private landlord, please contact the University’s Students Union Advice team by emailing: studentadvice@qub.ac.uk

  • I have decided to stay in Northern Ireland over the summer but I am concerned that I may experience financial difficulties as a result?

    The University fully appreciates this is a challenging and anxious time for students and in some cases, this may be exacerbated by financial hardship as a result of the pandemic. Therefore, the University has increased its hardship funds to support students.

    All Queen’s students are eligible to make an application to the hardship fund. If you have already received an award this year, you are not excluded from submitting a second application. If you are unsure as to whether you are able to apply for the hardship fund on a first or second occasion, please contact Student Wellbeing Service or Advice SU for support, advice and guidance.

    You can only apply to the fund using an online application, available by logging into your Qsis Student Account at qsis.qub.ac.uk

    For help completing the online application please click here.

    All supporting documentation requested during the online application process should be emailed to: supportfund@qub.ac.uk

    Please note: If you do not have all documentation requested during the online application process, please submit a minimum of 2 months of recent bank statements, i.e. April and May. Please ensure that ALL bank accounts held are submitted.

  • I am a Tier 4 visa holder – what advice is available?

    The government has published guidance on immigration provisions made by the Home Office for individuals in the UK who are unable to return to specified countries and areas. Read the Home Office guidance.

    If you are an International student and have any questions about your visa, please contact International Student Support

     

Teaching (Semester 2, Academic Year 2019-20)

  • Will I get a refund of my tuition fees as a result of the pandemic?

    The University fully appreciates that the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has caused significant disruption to everyone. The safety and wellbeing of our staff and students is paramount and we have implemented a range of measures to reflect this which have required a significant degree of adjustment.

    In this context, the University has done everything possible to continue to deliver education and teaching. This includes arrangements for the continued delivery of teaching online and for Semester 2 Examinations to be conducted under alternative assessment methods with additional contingency measures for students unable to complete those alternative methods. This is to ensure that as far as possible, students are not academically disadvantaged by the impact of Covid-19 and that they will be able to complete their module requirements for the academic year. In this respect, the University is not anticipating fee refunds to students.

Assessments

  • What are my options in the current assessment period?

    There are two options open to you, each of which is designed to support your progression. You can either:

    (1) Submit all assessments due in the current period.

    • Your assessments will be marked. If you are unsatisfied with your performance in any assessments with a submission date on or after 16 March 2020, you will have a second opportunity to take the assessments for full marks in the August assessment period, or at the next available opportunity on campus with no financial implications. The highest mark will be retained.

    (2) Defer some or all assessments with a submission date on or after 16 March 2020.

    • Where it is possible to do so without compromising academic standards, you will be assigned module marks based on your academic performance up to 16 March 2020. Assigned marks cannot be determined for resit assessments. If it is not possible to assign a module mark, or if you wish to take the deferred assessments despite having received an assigned module mark, you will be able to take the assessments in the August assessment period, or at the next available opportunity on campus, for full marks and with no financial implications. The highest mark will be retained.

    The diagram below outlines these options:

    Your health and wellbeing, and that of your friends and family, should be your primary consideration at this moment. While we encourage you to complete all assessments if you can, we understand that this may not be possible.

    Please read the FAQs below to ensure that you understand the full implications of your decision.

    If you wish to defer an assessment, please complete the COVID-19 Assessment Student Deferral Form.

  • Can I use the exceptional circumstances procedure?

    We accept that all students are currently working in the most exceptional of circumstances, and that daily lives have been significantly disrupted. You therefore do not need to submit an application for exceptional circumstances. Boards of Examiners will take the current emergency situation into consideration when determining final marks, whilst maintaining academic standards.

  • What will happen if I miss the deadline for submission of an assessment, or have technical difficulties which impact on my performance?

    For assessments which have been scheduled as an alternative to examinations, it will not be possible to submit after the deadline. These assessments will include additional time to allow for download and upload of the assessment.  You should, if possible, report any technical difficulties or disruption experienced during the assessment to your School. If such an assessment is not submitted, it will be assumed that you were unable to submit due to an emergency. Your academic progression will then be considered as if you had chosen to defer the assessment.

    For coursework or other continuous assessment, Schools have been encouraged to be flexible with deadlines in the circumstances. Standard penalties for late submission will not be applied. If coursework or continuous assessment is not submitted, it will be assumed that you were unable to submit. Your academic progression will then be considered as if you had chosen to defer the assessment.

  • Do I need to inform you if I intend to defer an assessment?

    If you are unable or do not wish to undertake the assessment, you can inform your School in advance by completing the COVID19 Alternative Assessment Student Deferral Form. However, we understand that this may not always be possible. If an assessment is not submitted, we will assume that you were unable to submit. Your academic progression will then be considered as if you had chosen to defer the assessment.

  • If I defer or am unable to submit an assessment, will I definitely receive an assigned mark?

    Not necessarily. Although Boards of Examiners will assign module marks where possible, there may be instances in which there is insufficient data available to assign a mark with confidence. This might include, for example:

    • Instances where the assessment in question examines programme learning outcomes which have not been assessed previously in the programme.
    • Instances where external professional bodies have imposed restrictions on assigning marks.
    • Other instances, not outlined here, where there is insufficient data available to assign a mark with confidence.

    Assigned marks cannot be determined for resit assessments.

    Please be assured that if the Board of Examiners is unable to assign a module mark, you will be given the opportunity to complete the assessment in the August assessment period or at the next available opportunity on campus, for full marks and without any financial implications.

  • How will Boards assign marks?

    In order to enable progression and completion, Boards will assign marks where possible. However, Boards will only assign marks where they have sufficient data to do so. You are therefore strongly encouraged to submit all assessments if possible. Where a Board is able to assign a mark, this will normally be based on one or more of:

    • The marks which you have already achieved in the module to date, where these have assessed the same programme learning outcomes as the missing assessment(s).
    • The marks which you have already achieved in assessments on other modules, where these have assessed the same programme learning outcomes as the missing assessment(s).

    If you are unhappy with your assigned mark, you will be afforded a second opportunity to take the assessment in the August assessment period, or at the next available opportunity on campus for full marks and with no financial implications. The highest mark will then be retained.

    Marks will only be assigned if we can be sure that you have met the relevant programme learning outcomes. If there is insufficient evidence to assign a mark, you will be required to avail of the second opportunity to take the assessment in the August assessment period, or at the next available opportunity on campus, for full marks and without any financial implications.

  • What are the progression requirements during the emergency?

    To assist progression, Boards may permit undergraduate students to progress from one stage to the next having passed a minimum of four modules (80 credit points) in the current stage of study. However, this concession will only be applied on a case by case basis based on the student’s academic standing if the Board determines that it is appropriate, and if its application is not prevented by programme specific regulations. This decision will be made in the best interests of each student.

  • What assurances can you provide that online assessments are fair and secure?

    We are taking all reasonable steps to ensure that, as far as possible, online assessments are fair and secure. As always, we expect our students to conduct themselves in an honest and professional manner. Any suspected cheating, plagiarism, collusion, fabrication, contract cheating or other misconduct will be dealt with according to the existing Procedures for Dealing with Academic Offences. There are several penalties which can be imposed under the Academic Offences Procedure, up to and including expulsion from the University.

  • What are my options regarding resits for assessments failed prior to 16 March 2020?

    You are encouraged to undertake alternative resit assessments to enable progression and completion. If you opt to undertake alternative resit assessments, the final module mark will remain capped at the pass mark for degree classification purposes. If you fail to pass an alternative resit assessment, you will be offered a further exceptional opportunity to pass the module at the next available opportunity.

    We recognise that it may not be possible for all students to undertake alternative resit assessments. In such circumstances, you must inform your School in writing prior to the alternative resit assessment. You will then be afforded an exceptional opportunity to take the resit assessment, in lieu of the alternative resit assessment, on campus, at the next available opportunity.

    It is not possible for the Board of Examiners to determine an assigned module mark for failed modules completed prior to 16 March 2020.

  • What if I cannot progress to the next stage until I have passed assessments with submission dates on or after 16 March 2020?

    To enable progression, if you have not passed an assessment taken on or after 16 March 2020, you may avail of the second opportunity to take the assessment without penalty in the August assessment period.

    If you are unable to avail of this opportunity in August and have failed to attain sufficient credit to progress, you must complete the required assessments at the next available opportunity on campus prior to progressing to the next stage.

    Following this second opportunity, if you fail to pass the module, a resit attempt at appropriate assessments for a capped module mark will be permitted.

  • I have passed an assessment taken on or after 16 March 2020, can I use the August assessment period to improve my assessment mark?

    Yes, you may use the August assessment period to avail of a second opportunity to take an assessment for full marks. Following this second opportunity, the highest mark will be retained.

  • Will my next attempt be "under normal conditions"?

    Although the emergency period has been protracted, it is important that progression and completion are still possible. Therefore, you will be afforded the opportunity to use the August assessment period to avail of your second opportunity to take an assessment for full marks. Examinations will not be held on campus as normal during this period. Therefore, these assessments may still be delivered via alternative assessments methods.

    Alternatively, you may opt to take this opportunity at a later date, on campus at the next available opportunity.

Travel

  • What is the university advising staff and students in relation to travel?

    The safety of our staff and students is paramount.

    Given the on-going spread of the virus both at home and abroad and the rapidly changing travel restrictions being put in place internationally, the University is now advising staff and students against all but essential travel for business or study outside of Northern Ireland. You are asked to carefully consider your travel plans and cancel or rearrange them unless absolutely essential.

    For the avoidance of doubt, activities such as student recruitment trips, visits to partner institutions, conference attendance and field trips are not considered essential.

    This advice will remain in place until further notice. Any change to this advice will be published on this page. Your wellbeing is the University’s first priority. Please do not let any concerns about your work or studies stop you taking this advice. The University will ensure that students are not disadvantaged academically by following this advice.

    However, if any students wish to return home before teaching finishes on the 27 March as a result of the pandemic, the University will ensure that they suffer no academic disadvantage. This includes contingency measures for assessment. However, you must consider the requirements of you visa, if applicable. If you are an international student from outside the EU and intend to return home early or need additional advice, please contact International Student Support via immigration@qub.ac.uk.

    Those Queen’s students currently on placement outside of Northern Ireland are advised to check the latest advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office which has recently changed. In line with this advice, we strongly encourage students currently studying or working outside of the UK to return home. You should not allow any concerns about your studies stop you from following this advice. If you need assistance, please email coronavirus-guidance@qub.ac.uk so we can help. Hardship funds are available should you wish to return but financial barriers are preventing this. If you return home early from placement anywhere (including within the UK) the University will ensure you suffer no academic disadvantage. If you need additional advice, please contact your School Office in the first instance.

    You should make an informed decision and consider that the global situation is changing rapidly including border restrictions.

    In line with FCO advicewe, as a University, are suspending travel where the FCO is advising against all travel or all but essential travel. Please continue to refer to the FCO website for the most up-to-date advice. The University continues to monitor and review the situation.

    To help keep our people safe, all future business travel must now be booked through the University's Travel Management Company, Selective. Selective is a local company which provides 24/7 emergency assistance to all University staff who experience flight or accommodation changes or cancellations, and provides vital management information to the Serious Incident Group when there is a significant event that could impact travellers, such as COVID-19.

    As always, it is of the utmost importance that University staff remain safe and healthy during any trips in connection with University business. All business travellers are responsible for reviewing official guidance (FCO, PHA) and University guidance regularly and must ensure that travel arrangements are made with their safety and wellbeing as the ultimate priority.

  • Where can I access the latest official travel advice?

    Read the latest official travel advice on the (FCO) website.

    Given the on-going spread of the virus both at home and abroad and the rapidly changing travel restrictions being put in place internationally, the University is now advising staff and students against all but essential travel for business or study outside of Northern Ireland.  Your wellbeing is the University’s first priority. Please do not let any concerns about your work or studies stop you taking this advice.

  • I am a student and plan to travel for placement/study/research – what advice is available?

    Given the on-going spread of the virus both at home and abroad and the rapidly changing travel restrictions being put in place internationally, the University is now advising staff and students against all but essential travel for business or study outside of Northern Ireland. You are asked to carefully consider your travel plans and cancel or rearrange them unless absolutely essential.

    For the avoidance of doubt, activities such as student recruitment trips, visits to partner institutions, conference attendance and field trips are not considered essential.

    This advice will remain in place until further notice. Any change to this advice will be published on this page.

    Your wellbeing is the University’s first priority. Please do not let any concerns about your work or studies stop you taking this advice. The University will ensure that students are not disadvantaged academically by following this advice.

    In line with FCO advicewe, as a University, are suspending travel where the FCO is advising against all travel or all but essential travel. Please continue to refer to the FCO website for the most up-to-date advice. The University continues to monitor and review the situation.

    To help keep our students and staff safe, all future placement/study/research must now be booked through the University's Travel Management Company, Selective. Selective is a local company which provides 24/7 emergency assistance to all University staff who experience flight or accommodation changes or cancellations, and provides vital management information to the Serious Incident Group when there is a significant event that could impact travellers, such as COVID-19.

    It is important to give careful consideration to the necessity of any travel, whether for personal or study purposes, at this time. As always, it is of the utmost importance that University students remain safe and healthy during any trips in connection with University study.  All students are responsible for reviewing official guidance (FCO, PHA) and University guidance regularly and must ensure that travel arrangements are made with their safety and wellbeing as the ultimate priority.

  • How do I get advice from the University’s travel provider on University-related travel?

    Please contact the University’s travel provider, Selective Travel, on +44 (0)28 9044 2073 or qub@selective-travel.co.uk, to change your travel arrangements. 

    Staff or students should contact Queen’s University Belfast’s Insurance Section for advice on making a cancellation or curtailment claim. Please ensure that you have saved all relevant documentation – receipts and booking confirmations.

    Insurance staff will provide the most appropriate claims form and then advise and manage the claims process with UMAL.

    For further advice, please contact the Insurance section on 02890 971484 or email insurance@qub.ac.uk.

    In the case of staff or students needing emergency medical treatment while on university approved travel, advice and support is available through UMAL on a 24hr basis:

    Tel: +44 (0)2920 662425
    E-mail: UMAL@global-response.co.uk 
    Please quote the Queen’s University Belfast reference: UMAL170

  • What if I have had travel using my Research Training and Support Grant cancelled due to a conference / event / training cancellation?

    To help keep our students and staff safe, all future placement/study must now be booked through the University's Travel Management Company, Selective. Selective is a local company which provides 24/7 emergency assistance to all University staff who experience flight or accommodation changes or cancellations, and provides vital management information to the Serious Incident Group when there is a significant event that could impact travellers, such as COVID-19.

    In this instance, if your travel was not booked through Selective, but your School approved the travel / activity to be funded by your Research Training Support Grant, the University will reimburse you for costs that you were unable to reclaim from the event organiser / through your personal travel insurance or credit card company. You will not be allocated additional RTSG.

Erasmus and Study Abroad

Students due to go on an international study or work placement (eg Erasmus) in 2020 – 21

Academic Year 2020-2021

  • When will the academic year re-start and what will it be like?

    As a returning student, we know that you will have many questions about what next year will look like for you. You will know from previous communications that we plan to start the academic year on 21 September 2020 as planned, unless you are on a programme with an earlier start date which you should already know about. Teaching will be a blend of online and face to face – though of course this will very much depend on the social distancing rules in place at the time. Your programme teams are working hard at the moment to complete the assessment and marking process as well as begin to translate your programmes into an accessible online format. Bear with us while we do this – but we will communicate with you what those changes will be and how they will impact with you.

Graduation

  • Why is graduation being postponed?

    Unfortunately, in order to reduce the risk of spread of the Covid-19 (coronavirus), we have taken the decision to postpone graduation ceremonies this summer. We appreciate this is disappointing for many but the health and wellbeing of our staff and students is our priority. We are making the this decision as early as possible to try and help families avoid incurring additional expense in terms of travel.

PhD Students

Information for researchers, particularly about adaptations to research methods and ethics can be found here.

  • I am a research degree (i.e. PhD or MPhil, or professional doctorate) student – what should I be doing now?

    We recognise that the impact on students will vary depending on the nature of your research, the stage you are at, the timeframe for different lockdown / distancing measures, and your personal circumstances, including caring responsibilities. You and your supervisor should be in regular dialogue about the impact of the COVID-19 situation on your research project, and any work you can be undertaking now or changes that can be made to mitigate the impact. This should be recorded in the Research Student Lifecycle, and will be used to generate a University-wide picture of impact on research students.

  • I am not able to fully progress my research at this time – will I get additional time at the end?

    PGR students who were registered during the 2019-20 academic year (excluding students starting a PhD programme after 23 March 2020), in all years of study and including those on thesis only status, will be eligible to for 3 additional months of registration (6 months for part-time students). This additional time will not incur additional tuition fees or other charges.

    Research students do not need to do anything now to secure the additional 3 months. If required, this time will be added with no additional fees, in line with existing School Postgraduate Research Committee (SPRC) procedures. This considers a student’s registration status at the point of coming to the end of their normal period of studies as defined by Study Regulations for Research Degree Programmes 4.3 (e.g. For PhD student 3 years (FT) or 6 years (PT)). For funded students awarded a studentship of more than three years duration the additional 3 month fee free period should be applied immediately after the funding end date, if necessary.

    • What if I was already on Thesis Only status at the point of lockdown?

      If you were already on thesis-only status at the start of lockdown, you have a 3 additional months of registration at the end of your 12 month period (15 months total).

    • What if I have changed status since the end of March, and already paid a fee?

      If you have come to the end of your funding or changed status to Thesis Only since 23rd March, and already paid for your registration, then please contact your School. They will make arrangements with Student Registry (pgr.records@qub.ac.uk) to put in place the 3 months without charges, refunding payments where appropriate.

    • What if I was registered at the point of lockdown (23 March), but have since taken a Temporary Withdrawal (Leave of Absence)?

      If you were registered at the start of lockdown, but have since that time taken a temporary withdrawal, then you are eligible for the three months without fees when you reach the end of your funding or normal period of studies.

    • What if I was on a Temporary Withdrawal (Leave of Absence) before lockdown?

      If you registered for the 2019-20 academic year, and have since that time taken a temporary withdrawal, you are eligible for the three months without fees when you reach the end of your funding or normal period of studies.

    • What if I am on a taught component of a professional / integrated doctorate?

      If you are currently completing taught elements of professional / integrated doctorates, provisions to mitigate disruption are made within the taught regulations.

    You may be in a situation not covered by any of the options below. If you get in touch with your School, they will work with Student Registry and Postgraduate Awards to determine how this applies to your situation.

  • Will the additional time mean that I need an extension to my Tier 4 visa?

    For Tier 4 visa holders, in many cases you will have time on your visa to allow you to avail of the additional three months without a visa extension. However, if you find that you will need to seek an extension to your visa you can contact International Student Support (immigration@qub.ac.uk) within three months of the expiry date of your visa to discuss options for this.

  • Is there any guidance about how to adjust to impact on research?

    Information relating to ethical approval and changes in methodology to accommodate social distancing can be found on the Researchers and Funding FAQs page.

    As always, please contact your supervisors to discuss how best to approach your particular situation.

  • How do any delays to my PhD research affect my funding?

    Please be assured that institutional support for PGR students will continue to be reviewed in the light of continuing disruption, data collected from students about impact, and funding body positions.

    All funded postgraduate researchers (PGRs) in receipt of a stipend will continue to be paid as normal, unless they take a temporary withdrawal (Leave of Absence).

    We are updating funding body positions as they are communicated to us. If you are aware of a communication that is not here, please send the details to pgawards@qub.ac.uk.

    A number of major funders have already confirmed their positions.

    For UKRI-funded students, you can see the latest position at https://www.ukri.org/news/coronavirus-impact-on-ukri-supported-research/

    For Wellcome Trust at: https://wellcome.ac.uk/grant-funding/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-grant-applicants-and-grantholders. We are awaiting further information from them on how requests for costed extensions will be operationalised.

    Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions position from the European Commission is here.

    We continue to work closely with the Department for the Economy, another major funder for PGR students at Queen’s. While we do not yet have a confirmed position from them, as ultimately the decision on PGR extensions will be made by the Minister as part of the June budgeting process, we have been assured, as recently as this week, that PGR support is their top priority and that the indications are very positive. We will confirm the outcome with you as soon as we have information.

    Responses from a range of research funders (not specific to postgraduate research students) can be found on the University’s Researchers and Funding FAQs.

    For international students sponsored by government or other organisations in their home country, please stay in touch with Carole Maslowski (c.maslowski@qub.ac.uk), and we will continue to monitor the position for you.

    For students who are experiencing financial hardship, the University’s Hardship Funds have been extended and you are encouraged to make an application. See the information here for more details about how to apply.

  • I am a self-funded PGR and pay my own fees, is there any help specifically for me?

    The University is looking into this as a matter of urgency. Should you be facing immediate difficulties, you may wish to seek support from the Queen’s Hardship Fund.

  • Should I take a temporary withdrawal?

    This is an option for any research degree student who is unable to make progress on their research at this time. We recognise that this may not be the best option for you, as it will stop your stipend payment if you are a funded student, and advise that funded students need not take this step at this time. We are continuing to work with other Universities to seek clarity from funding bodies on their position.

    If you are a self-funded student who is unable to make any progress on your research at this time, then taking a temporary withdrawal is a way to pause the time and fee payments for your research degree.

    Discuss your situation with your supervisor, to determine whether there are different methodologies that can be used, or other preparations you can be undertaking at this time, such as preparing for annual programme review, writing and communicating your research, and building skills for your research.

    All postgraduate students, including those who are on a temporary withdrawal during this time, will continue to have access to wellbeing support through the University, and to personal development, employability and training support through the Graduate School.

  • Since I am unable to travel, I won’t be able to use my full Research Training and Support Grant (RTSG). Can this be used for other purposes, or can it be carried forward to next year?

    Department for the Economy (DfE) provide an annual RTSG amount (normally £900 for the full year) to their students to assist with incidental expenses related to their research e.g. travel and accommodation costs for a conference or to purchase a laptop.

    In the light of the current Covid-19 situation, and with students now having to work from home, the restrictions on the use of RTSG have been eased (for the remainder of this current academic year in the first instance). Reasonable expenses incurred while facilitating home research can now be claimed. They include the following:

    • Desks and chairs to assist comfortable working
    • Printers, print cartridges, paper and other consumables required to undertake your research
    • Registration costs associated with on-line conferences or training opportunities
    • As a contribution towards undertaking the CMI Level 7 Certificate in Strategic Leadership and Management facilitated through the Graduate School (payments can be made now for units to be delivered in 2020-21)

    This list is not exhaustive and normal school purchasing protocols continue. In some cases items above can be purchased less expensively through the university procurement system. If you have any queries surrounding RTSG then liaise with your School contact in the first instance or email: pgawards@qub.ac.uk.

    Students who receive RTSG as part of a Doctoral Training partnership (DTP) or Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) should contact the relevant administrator for any queries surrounding its use.

    Queries have been raised regarding carrying forward RTSG to the next academic year in the light of conference cancellations and travel restrictions. The funding body sets funding conditions which require unspent funds to be returned at the end of the year, which remains the case at this point.

  • As a research student, can I access data that is held securely in the University while working remotely?

    Research students who need access to securely stored data remotely through a VPN service can contact their Director of Graduate Studies / PGR to request access. Access to the service will be decided on a case by case basis.

  • Can I access equipment / software to support working remotely?

    Provisions have been made for students to access equipment for working remotely where they do not have equipment available. If you have equipment or specialist software needs, discuss with your Supervisor / Director of Graduate Studies, who can raise with Information Services.

  • What happens to the academic milestones for a research student (for example, annual programme review, differentiation)?

    Where possible, differentiation and APR meetings should be conducted remotely providing everyone involved is happy with the arrangements. This would also be contingent on there being appropriate resources available in the School to conduct the meeting digitally and that everyone involved is still available on the scheduled date. Where a milestone meeting is held remotely, the meeting should be conducted in compliance with the Study Regulations for Research Degree Programmes (6. Progress).

    Where it is not possible, the meeting should be postponed.  This should be rescheduled to the next available date, in agreement with the student.  Depending on when the meeting can be rescheduled, students would be permitted to register for the next academic year, with their 2019-20 academic milestone pending for up to three months.

    Given the time of year, students are encouraged to continue with their APR meeting (digitally) to have the opportunity to complete this academic milestone before deciding to take a temporary withdrawal if they cannot progress with their research remotely.

  • Will viva examinations be affected?

    Where possible, viva examinations will be conducted remotely. This should be arranged at School-level using video conferencing software such as Skype or Microsoft Teams. The written agreement of all participants of the viva should be obtained in advance.  These arrangements would also be contingent on there being appropriate resources available in the School to conduct the meeting digitally and that everyone involved is still available on the scheduled date. Where a viva is held remotely, the examination should be conducted in compliance with the Study Regulations for Research Degree Programmes (7. Assessment/Award).

    Where it is not possible to hold the viva remotely, this should be rescheduled to the next available date, in agreement with the student. 

  • I was planning to complete my ‘Intention to Submit’ – should I still proceed?

    Yes, if you are continuing to work on your research degree you should still give at least 3 months’ notice to the SPRC of intention to submit your thesis.

  • Do my examiners still need to be appointed before I can submit my thesis?

    Yes, your School will continue as normal to appoint internal examiners and nominate external examiners for approval by the Research and Postgraduate Committee. 

    Given the evolving nature of this situation, and the affect that it may have on staff availability, this process may take a bit longer than usual.  It is, therefore, important that you submit your Intention to Submit well in advance to allow your School the appropriate time to complete this process. 

    If you have any concerns, you should discuss with your supervisor in the first instance.

  • How will I submit my thesis?

    The approved copy of a student’s softbound thesis will be uploaded electronically by the School on the student’s behalf. Students should liaise with their Supervisors or Postgraduate Office as appropriate.

    The final approved thesis should be uploaded electronically to Pure by the student upon completion of the Thesis Deposit Form by Supervisor and Examiner. The Deposit Form should be sent to Student Registry by the School on the student’s behalf.

    Students will be expected to submit hardcopies of the final approved thesis within two weeks of the University campus re-opening to students. In cases where the student is unable to submit the hardcopies for legitimate reasons, the School should arrange to submit the hardbound thesis on the student’s behalf.

    Full instructions can be found here: https://www.qub.ac.uk/directorates/sgc/srecords/Examinations/Postgraduate-Research/SubmissionProcess/

  • I have an opportunity to undertake clinical or COVID-related research. What does this mean for my PhD?

    Many research students have a valuable skill set to contribute to efforts to deal with Covid-19. A number from across a range of disciplines have returned to clinical practice, or taken up roles with research laboratories. It has been agreed that a student wishing to undertake this work should continue to be registered as a student, and have access to latest research through Library systems. If you would prefer to take a temporary withdrawal, your School can process this through pgr.records@qub.ac.uk, and indicate the reason as Covid-19 related research.

    If a student will be paid for this work (outside of the NHS, where an agreement is in place), to stop their stipend at this time, the School can email pgawards@qub.ac.uk. Otherwise fee and stipend payments will continue during this time. Your funding body may not allow you to work alongside your funded research, so do contact PG Awards to discuss your specific situation.