Frequently asked questions for Graduate Researchers

As a graduate researcher you may have questions about how coronavirus (COVID-19) will affect your research. Please check the below information for advice and resources to support you during this time.

Manage your candidature

  • How can I continue my research if I cannot access campus or facilities?

    Access to campus buildings is currently only available for activities deemed to be essential services or to maintain categories of research approved by Deans and the Deputy Vice Chancellor Research. Supervisors can advise on whether access is available.

    We encourage you to maintain candidature while at home or located remotely, if it is possible to do so. Discuss with your supervisors what activities can continue, such as writing, data analysis, etc. Make a plan together for the coming months and maintain supervisory meetings via Zoom or other virtual tools.

  • Taking leave from my candidature

    If you cannot continue productive work, either because of Coronavirus (COVID-19) disruptions to your research or because it is impacting your personal circumstance (such as creating additional caring responsibilities), you should apply for a COVID-19 leave of absence (see Taking leave and financial support for more information).

    This leave will be available to domestic candidates and to international candidates only under compassionate and compelling reasons.

    If you wish to take leave for other reasons (such as parental leave, or if you are unwell) you should follow the usual leave-of-absence processes.

  • Are my supervisors available to help me?

    The University is continuing to operate remotely. Supervision should continue by virtual means, for example email, phone or Zoom. If your supervisors are on leave themselves, interim arrangements for supervision should be put in place. Our usual expectations of supervisors and candidates remain, including meeting regularly, maintaining respectful behaviour, and providing timely and insightful feedback.

    If maintaining engagement with your supervisor is proving to be challenging, please liaise with your Advisory Committee Chair, graduate research administrator or Associate Dean, Graduate Research.

  • I am approaching a candidature milestone, what should I do?

    If you are not taking a leave of absence (whether for Coronavirus (COVID-19) or other reasons), confirmation and progress reviews should continue as scheduled, with the meetings to be held virtually. If you need an extension to confirmation or other review dates, discuss this with your supervisors and Advisory Committee Chair. Your Advisory Committee Chair can recommend an extension to confirmation of up to 3 months for doctoral and 6 weeks for masters’ candidates. These requests for extension will take into account the current COVID-19 circumstances.

    If you are taking leave, your confirmation, progress review and submission dates will be adjusted accordingly.

  • What if I need an extension to candidature because of COVID-19?
    • If you are a doctoral candidate nearing your 3-year milestone (between 2.75-3.0 EFTSL) and you are maintaining satisfactory academic progress, we will waive the need to apply for an initial extension at your progress review. This means that your candidature will be extended to 3.5 years EFTSL. If you hold a scholarship, your scholarship will be extended automatically to the same date.
    • If you are a masters research candidate approaching 1.5 EFTSL, and you are maintaining satisfactory academic progress, we will waive the need to apply for an initial extension at your progress review. This means that your candidature will be extended to 2.0 years EFTSL. If you hold a scholarship, your scholarship will be extended automatically to the same date.

    We will continue to waive the need to apply for this extension on a rolling basis during April as candidates reach these milestones.

    For all candidates, the Graduate Research Training Policy provides for extensions to candidature and for late submission due to compelling and unexpected circumstances outside candidates’ control.

    Applications for extension or late submission are considered in the final stages of candidature only.

    You and your supervisors should discuss and record any COVID-related impacts to your candidature now and update that periodically as the situation evolves. Those documents should be used where relevant in any future requests for candidature extensions or late submission in your final year of candidature.

    Progress review meetings

    Please note that progress review meetings will still be held. As you near your new expected submission date, if you need a further extension or late submission, you will need to apply for it following the existing process .

    Some candidates may have just passed their 3-year progress meeting without requesting an initial extension. Associate Deans will consider an initial extension for these candidates up to 3.5 years.

  • My progress is being affected by COVID-19 disruptions, how can this be considered in the future?

    The University’s policies allow for extensions to candidature and late submission beyond the maximum course duration where circumstances beyond your control delay your completion. We understand that many of you may be experiencing such circumstances now and may be unable to work on your research at your usual rate.

    To help ensure that any impacts to your research are captured and acknowledged, we encourage you to document the nature and extent of disruptions to your research resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. With the Academic Board, we have developed a Candidature Management form to help you record disruptions and progress issues as they occur. This is intended to act as an ongoing record to support your case for an extension of candidature or late submission, particularly if your opportunity to study varies from day to day. Please note that this is an optional process. You may wish to discuss alternative ways to record issues with your supervisor and advisory committee.

    Once you submit the form, it will be sent to your principal supervisor as part of a weekly email they receive on Thursday mornings.  Once completed, you, your supervisors and your graduate research administrators will all be able to access the form if you need to in the future.

  • I am due to hold my completion seminar soon. What should I do?

    Completion seminars should be held by Zoom or other virtual meeting tools. The seminar should be advertised with the Zoom/access link.

  • Are thesis submissions continuing?

    Thesis submission or requests to extension for submission should continue to follow existing processes. If your thesis contains a creative work or if you have an oral examination for a joint PhD, consult your Graduate Research Administrator about arrangements that can be put in place.

Taking leave and financial support

  • I can’t continue my studies at the moment, what should I do?

    If you cannot continue your studies in any form due to insurmountable research restrictions or valid personal reasons directly related to Coronavirus (COVID-19), you can apply for up to 60 working days (12 weeks) of leave. To do this, apply for leave via the RHD Leave of Absence form and select the reason COVID-19. If you are taking leave to return to clinical or other work, please use one of the Employment reason codes.

    This leave will be available to domestic candidates and international candidates only under compassionate and compelling reasons.

    If your COVID-19 leave is approved and you hold a stipend or ongoing studentship scholarship from the University, this leave will be paid, even if your scholarship does not offer paid sick leave. If your scholarship does offer paid sick leave, COVID-19 leave will be provided in addition to your paid sick leave entitlement.

    If your COVID-19 leave is approved your expected thesis submission date and any future progress review dates will be adjusted accordingly.

    If you are currently using paid scholarship leave for Coronavirus (COVID-19) reasons, and you fall in the category of compelling and compassionate reasons above, you don’t need to re-apply for COVID-19 leave. All current sick leave approvals will be reviewed and, where relevant, standard paid sick leave balances will be re-credited.

  • I don’t receive a scholarship. What financial support is available to me?

    The University’s scholarships and financial aid pages list a variety of support packages. More assistance is being provided by Australian governments in response to coronavirus (COVID-19). If you are an Australian resident, check whether you are eligible for Centrelink or other forms of assistance (such as rent relief).

    If you do not receive a stipend, you may apply for support through the University’s Emergency Support Fund.

    If you are not eligible for University or government subsidies, and you require financial support, we recommend you begin a discussion with your supervisor to determine how best to progress your research program.

  • I have incurred extra Study Away costs because of Coronavirus (COVID-19). What support is available to help with those costs?

    If you incurred extra costs in returning to Australia or your home country in response to travel restrictions, it is recommended that you seek refunds from your travel provider and your travel insurance. For University-approved Study Away costs that are not covered by travel insurance, the University will make available support through the Emergency Support Fund (Cancelled Overseas Study) to assist with genuine, reasonable costs associated with returning to Australia. Please keep all documentation (receipts, booking confirmations etc) to assist with your application for a support grant.

Services and support

  • Can I still access the library?

    The University's library services are currently being delivered virtually, and library buildings across all campuses are closed. Our libraries continue to provide access to a vast array of materials online, with many publishers temporarily expanding their digital offerings. Find out how to source online materials for your teaching, learning and research.

    If you can't find what you need through our self-service options, you can ask a librarian to help you source materials. You can also contact your Faculty and School Librarian directly. Librarians will investigate a range of options to supply a suitable resource.

  • What other services are available?

    Most University services are continuing in virtual mode. For example, the Melbourne Statistical Consulting Platform is providing personal consultations via Zoom video link or telephone. See each service’s webpages for details.

  • Who should I contact with questions?

    The Graduate Research Hub and Student Services Directory continue to be the primary resources for information about candidature and the services available to you.

    If you have further questions, please contact your graduate research administrators .

  • What IT support is available remotely?

    In response to COVID-19, some of our software vendors are offering free home-use licences on personal devices. A list of available software for personal devices is available here .

    IT assistance is available to all graduate researchers and students working remotely.

  • Software to support your data analysis

    Licenses for statistics software (SPSS & Stata), Adobe Creative Cloud and more software have been temporarily extended, and graduate researchers may now install these tools on their personal devices.

    You may wish to access more information and new installation guides. Online troubleshooting help is available via chat or a service request to Student IT

Health and wellbeing

  • What support is available for my health and wellbeing?

    Health and wellbeing services continue to be available to all students and graduate researchers. See the Coronavirus (COVID-19) student page for details.

Travel, visas and insurance

  • I am overseas on Study Away. What should I do?

    If you are an Australian resident, we strongly recommend that you return to Australia as soon as possible if it is safe to do so. If you wish to remain overseas on Study Away, you must submit a new Study Away application. Approval will require the endorsement of your Dean and the Academic Registrar.

    If you are a non-resident or non-citizen of Australia, you are unable to travel to Australia at present. You should consider the advice of your home government and of the country you are in, to determine whether to remain or return to your home country. Discuss with your supervisors whether you can productively continue candidature. If you can, submit a new Study Away application. If you cannot, apply for COVID-19 leave or leave of absence as appropriate.

  • I want to take leave to return home to my family

    We understand international candidates are anxious for the wellbeing of their family and friends. If you wish to return to your home country voluntarily or are doing so at the recommendation of your home government, apply for leave of absence under compassionate and compelling reasons.

    You should also be aware of any possible restrictions or risks with returning to home countries, as well as the Australian Government’s travel advice and restrictions, which may prevent you from returning to Australia. The University will continue to monitor this situation and how it might impact students’ ongoing enrolment. For any visa enquiries, you should contact the Department of Home Affairs.

For commencing graduate researchers

  • I am due to commence my degree in the next few months. Can I still start as planned?

    The University has moved to virtual campus model. If you are already in Australia, it may be possible for you to commence remotely if you are able to be productive and your supervisors are available to guide you. Speak with your supervisors for their advice. If it is not possible to make a productive start, and your start date is imminent, you should defer the start date until at least July 2020 and possibly later in the year depending on how the COVID-19 situation evolves.

    Scholarships cannot be commenced outside Australia. If you are an Australian resident currently overseas, you will need to confirm whether you can return to Australia. If you are not an Australian resident and are outside Australia, you will need to defer your start date until at least July 2020. If you would prefer to defer until 2021, please discuss the implications for scholarship deferral with your graduate research administrator.