HDR Candidature and COVID-19

Specific information for HDR students and supervisors.

UWA COVID-19 FAQ

Many of you are understandably concerned about how research, candidature, scholarships and visas will be affected by the current situation. We hope the following advice will be useful for helping you understand how best to manage research candidature during these difficult and uncertain times.

Please contact the GRS if you need our assistance at any time and please continue to refer to the UWA COVID-19 FAQ page for up-to-date advice and external links to general COVID-19 information. HDR specific information is provided.

UWA COVID-19 FAQ

The information provided on this GRS page provides HDR-specific information that supplements the general information provided on the UWA COVID page.

The UWA COVID-19 FAQ provides the most up-to-date general information about COVID-19 and UWA. Please check this page regularly. There is HDR specific information in section 7.

Contact the GRS

The GRS aim is to provide continuous service no matter where we are located.

You can reach the GRS teams, and send them documents, using the following emails:

The GRS staff are also set up to schedule and join Zoom meetings. if you would like to 'meet' with a GRS staff member, please email or phone them directly to arrange a Zoom meeting. If you are unfamiliar with Zoom, the GRS Graduate Education Officers can guide you through the Zoom setup and participation process.

In addition to the contact details above you are welcome to contact Dr Sato Juniper (GRS Associate Director) , Dr Sudarsan Krishnaswamy (GRS Candidature Manager) or Professor Imelda Whelehan (GRS Dean) if we can assist you.

GRS Staff Contact Details

Town hall meeting recording

On 12 JUN, the GRS held a Town Hall Meeting to address student concerns about the impact of COVID19 on their candidature.  Representatives from the GRS, Student Experience and Wellbeing, IT and the Postgraduate Students’ Association gave short presentations, followed by a question and answer session.

You can view a video recording (455.60 MB) of the webinar here or an audio only recording (24.73 MB) here. Both the recordings are password protected. Please contact Dr Jo Edmondston for the password.

Research

Please develop a contingency plan for your research in conjunction with your supervisors, to determine what activities can continue under a range of potential scenarios in the short, medium and long term. Disruptions will be inevitable for many.

Relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions mean some research that was temporarily halted may be able to resume. Please refer to the State and Commonwealth advisories and restrictions for the latest advice and guidelines to determine if your project can resume. UWA also has a guide to research planning during the pandemic that includes a checklist and FAQ. 

Please remember that you research must comply with all Health and Safety requirements, including social distancing, at all times. If this is not possible, you must stop your research for the time being.

Some students will be able to modify their research plans, for example by changing from face to face interviews to Zoom. Human Research Ethics Office have advised that if you are in this situation you should submit an amendment to the Human Ethics Office. In most cases this amendment will processed in a day or two.

The insurance cover for lost research and travel time and opportunity are still being worked through with UWA’s insurers to determine what will be covered and what will not. In the meantime, please document everything carefully as your records may be required for insurance claims in the future.

Candidature and scholarships

New measures have been introduced to assist HDR students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions. These measures will operate during the COVID-19 period until further notice. The measures recognise the varied pressures that HDR students are facing in the current environment and provide extra flexibility and options for the management of candidature and those scholarships under the control of the University.

Details of each measure and how to apply are provided below.

Candidature

  • All students. Applications for extension of candidature will continue to be considered case by case, and delays because of COVID-19 will be assessed sympathetically.
  • International students. You may now apply to suspend enrolment or change to part-time enrolment. As always, we advise that you seek advice about implications for your visa. Home Affairs provide information on study and staying in Australia.

Tuition Fees

  • Students who were enrolled at 1.03.20 and are in receipt of Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Tuition Fees Offsets or Scholarships for International Research Fees (SIRF) may now apply for extensions of those scholarships to up to 4.5 years (Doctorates) or 2.5 years (Masters).
  • International students whose tuition fees are sponsored externally, and whose sponsorships have expired and cannot be extended, may apply for fee relief – assessment will be case by case. 
  • International students who pay full tuition fees and have either reached the end of their designated course length or demonstrate financial hardship, may apply for fee relief – assessment will be case by case.
  
       
  • To apply for an extension of your International Tuition Fees scholarship submit an Application for Extension form    
  • To apply for fee relief submit either your Annual Progress Report, if it is due, or an Interim Report form, with a detailed Completion Plan; an outline of how your progress has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions;a statement and demonstration of your financial hardship; and a clear indication of the period for which you are requesting fee relief.

Living Allowances (Stipends)

  • International and domestic students in receipt of Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Stipend Scholarships and University Postgraduate Awards (UPA and UPAIS) may now
    • Change to part-time enrolment and continue to receive a stipend part-time for reasons related to COVID-19
    • Apply for paid sick leave on the basis of caring responsibilities, in addition to the existing criterion of personal illness
    • Apply for up to two extensions of up to three months each, on the basis of demonstrated delays to candidature caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that were documented and reported at the time. This is in addition to the existing extension provision of six months for those scholarships.
  • Students in receipt of stipends that are not under the control of the University have different options, and where possible the GRS will assist students in discussion with sponsors.

Candidature suspensions

If you and your supervisors determine that it is best for you to suspend candidature and/or scholarships for the time being please apply to do so in the usual way. While on suspension you will retain remote access to your Pheme login, which provides access to the UWA Library, IT support and other resources.

Suspension advice

Working from home

Many of you are already working off campus for a variety of reasons, and others have asked about this. If you and/or your supervisors are contemplating or already working off campus please check the GRS advice about Remote Supervision and discuss in detail with your supervisors a plan for maintenance of regular contact. If you have not already done so, we recommend that you lodge your completed Remote Supervision Plan with your GRC and then send the plan by email to the GRS.

Remote Supervision Plan

Returning to campus - Awareness and induction module

All HDR students who are planning to return to campus, or have already done so, need to complete the UWA COVID-19 Awareness and Induction (a short video which will help you stay safe).

UWA COVID-19 Awareness and Induction Module

 

When you complete the module you will receive an email notification of completion, which should be forwarded to your coordinating supervisor.

 

When working on campus, physical distancing and hygiene measures must be maintained. All OH&S requirements in relation to COVID-19 need to be met, along with normal practice for a safe working environment.

Off-campus activities and inter-regional travel in WA

Please see the UWA Operational advice regarding off-campus research and work activities for UWA. This includes remote site visits, fieldwork, travel to outlying campus or field stations.

While there are restrictions around inter-regional travel at this time, there are still legitimate reasons for travel related to educational purposes. Examples include returning students to UWA, regional facility visits, regional repair works, fieldwork, and staff or student relocation.

UWA Safety have provided the following resources to support travel deemed essential by the Head of School or higher (and SDC Technical Managers):

For drivers using UWA-owned vehicles, please consider the guidance that already exists, which now includes COVID-specific information relating to social distancing and hygiene.

Visas

The GRS are determining how flexible visa arrangements will be in the next few months, and we will update you when we have this information. In the meantime, if you have any concerns about visa extensions please contact the GRS as soon as possible. Students who need a visa extension may require a new CoE, and the GRS Candidature team can provide advice about this process.

Online resources

The Graduate Education Officers provide a wide range of resources to support you through candidature. Many of these resources are suitable for the online environment and many others are currently being adapted for the online space. While all resources are accessible from the relevant webpages, which are easily accessed from the Current Students splashpage, we've created a new page summarising all the GEO resources you can access, and other useful resources provided by other areas of UWA and beyond.

Online resources

Wellbeing & social connections

Supporting you to maintain your wellbeing is always important to the GRS, never more than during these difficult times.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, please reach out to the support available to you.

For UWA students, UWA’s counselling service continues to operate with distance counselling. You can book a triage appointment on 6488 2423. In a crisis, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. If your crisis is life-threatening, contact 000. The UWA Supporting you during COVID-19 page also summarises a range of additional support available to you.

For UWA staff, PeopleSense appointments are available by phone and Skype. Additional advice is provided on the staff intranet.

An important component of wellbeing is social connection and while we need to maintain physical distance from each other at this time, there is the opportunity to connect in other ways.

The Graduate Education Officers are available for one-on-one appointments by phone, email or Zoom. If you are unfamiliar with Zoom, the GEOs can guide you through the Zoom setup and participation process. The GEOs will be replacing a number of their face-to-face workshops with Zoom meetings. In addition, the GEOs can arrange a HDR student Zoom meeting for students who are feeling isolated. If you wish to connect with other HDR students, contact Dr Jo Edmondston who will provide you with the meeting details.

Accommodation

Some students are reporting accommodation difficulties as share houses and room rental arrangements break down due to concerns about COVID 19. Student Wellbeing have set up a dedicated contact email for students experiencing accommodation difficulties.

Criminal record screening

For all students applying for a Criminal Record Screening (CRS) Card from the WA Health Department please note that you now need to provide an email address. To minimise the risk of COVID-19, CRS cards will no longer be sent through the mail but will be sent to this email address. A copy of the card will be emailed with a message confirming clearance has been confirmed.