COVID-19 FAQs and guidelines for Graduate Research students and staff

 [last updated 19/06/2020]

 1. How will I be supervised/can I expect my supervisor and research studies panel (RSP) to engage with me?

Yes, you can expect supervision to continue. It is important that you maintain clear and regular communication with your supervisor and members of your RSP as needed. You should consult with your supervisor, initially by email, to agree what mode of engagement would suit you both and progress from there. Supervision should continue as normal, agreeing deadlines, submitting written material, adopting feedback etc. can all be continued virtually and by agreement with your supervisor. RSP meetings can continue via virtual or remote meetings.

Zoom, which is supported by UCD IT Services, is the recommended virtual system for both supervision and RSP meetings. If internet services are poor in your area, you can set up conference calls on your telephone. The important thing is to keep the lines of communication open with your supervisor and RSP.

2. What is an appropriate period in which to expect feedback?

This is specific to each student and their supervisor. It should be based on a schedule agreed between you and your supervisor/co-supervisor. Continue meeting virtually as frequently as you would have face to face and agree what kind of feedback will work best in the circumstances and how frequently feedback should be expected.

 3. How do I complete my Research and Professional Development Plan (RPDP) and conduct the relevant meetings?

Part 1 of the RPDP, the Record of Student Activity, should be completed by the student and can be shared with the RSP before the RSP meeting. An RSP meeting can be conducted virtually, by Zoom for example. All components of the RPDP can be completed by email, including getting signatures of the Chair, supervisor and other members of the RSP. 

4. How will I complete my 30 taught credits if classes are cancelled/how will I complete and be assessed for the taught modules upon which I’m currently enrolled?

Modules will continue to be run virtually and any changes to assessment protocols will be advised by the module co-ordinator. Please also read FAQs prepared for students on taught programmes.

5. Will my Stage Transfer Assessment (STA) go ahead and how will it be conducted?

Yes, STAs will go ahead virtually. Zoom is the recommended virtual platform by which STAs can be conducted. Presentations can be shared with the STA panel prior to the assessment and also shared via Zoom during the STA. The outcome of the STA will be communicated to the relevant Governing Board remotely and according to the schedule of meetings for that Board. 

6. Will Governing Boards meet to approve Stage Transfer Assessment, External Examiner appointments etc.?

Yes. governing boards will meet remotely and according to their planned schedules. 

7. I am ready to submit my thesis; can I do this?

Yes. You should follow the E-Thesis Procedures Guide to submit your thesis for examination

8. How can I secure Supervisor approval for my thesis?

Once agreed with your supervisor that you are ready to submit, your supervisor will confirm approval to submit in the E-Thesis system and you will receive an email inviting you to submit your thesis. You will then upload your thesis in PDF format (one combined document including appendices). 

9. I have completed my corrections and the internal examiner has agreed that they are completed satisfactorily. I can’t hand in the hardcopy of the thesis to the student desk with the signed off form by the internal examiner, what do I do now? My thesis was not examined through the e-thesis (online) system.

  1. The examiner nominated to oversee the corrections, usually the internal examiner, can provide you with the sign off form electronically. 
  2. Then email the completed Thesis Corrections Sign Off Form to ACCE@ucd.ie. This will complete the examining process.
  3. Once the Student Desk reopens after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, you should submit the hardbound copy of your thesis.

10. My thesis was examined and signed off using the e-thesis system and I need to hand in my final hardbound copy to the Student Desk. What should I do?

  1. The examining process is now complete.
  2. Once the Student Desk reopens after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted you should submit the hardbound copy of your thesis.

11. I am due to submit my thesis on the 4th of September 2020. Will I get an extension to my PhD due to COVID-19 disruptions to my research and writing such as: 
a. The closure of UCD has prevented me from accessing key research materials required to finish my work
b. Sickness 
c. Self-isolation
d. Sickness of a loved one or of my supervisor(s)
e. I now have no access to childcare 
f. I have/my supervisor has been asked to return to clinical duties by the government.

We encourage you, where possible, to submit your thesis by the 4th of September 2020 deadline, if that is the date you are due to submit. Where you are unable to meet the 4th of September 2020 submission deadline due to COVID-19 associated disruptions, you will be supported with a single trimester extension to complete your thesis for submission by 8th of January 2021.  This extension is a no-fee cost extension to support graduate research students delayed due to COVID-19 without the financial burden of fees.

If you require this extension, please contact your supervisor in the first instance. As is normal practice, any requests for an extension should be made by you to your school on a specific application form: COVID19 Extension of Thesis of Submission in Sep 2020, by the 4th of September deadline. In keeping with normal governance, the request will then be submitted by the school to the relevant governing board for approval. Please be assured, where an additional trimester is required, which exceeds the registration period permitted under the Academic Regulations 7.9 and 7.10, this extension of one trimester to the registration period will be approved due to the exceptional circumstances due to COVID-19.

12. My submission deadline is later than the 4th of September 2020. Will I get an extension to my PhD due to the time I missed because of: 
a. Closure of UCD 
b. Sickness 
c. Self-isolation 
d. Sickness of a loved one or of my supervisor(s) 
e. Not having no access to childcare 
f. Being asked to return to clinical duties by the government 
g. Me not being able to get back to Ireland because flights have been cancelled.

At present, as is normal practice, any requests for an extension can be made on an individual basis to your School on this application form: GSB Thesis Extension Form (Standard fillable). In keeping with normal governance, the request will then be submitted by the School to the relevant governing board for approval. It is important to keep a record of your change of circumstances, especially any documentation to evidence how extenuating circumstance have impeded your progress, such as no access to a laboratory, recruitment and data collection from participants paused, essential archival material normally accessed in a library. The requirement for other supporting evidence has been waived. We recognise that students are facing many extenuating circumstances, including the personal impact that COVID-19 may be having on you or your family. We also recognise that the professionals who may be supporting you need to prioritise their support of you and others over providing extenuating circumstances evidence. Therefore, for the remainder of the 2020 Summer Trimester, the University will accept extenuating circumstance applications without requiring submission supporting evidential documentation. You will still need to complete the application form: GSB Thesis Extension Form (Standard fillable) so that the impact of your circumstances on your progress can be properly considered. The University maintains the right to investigate the validity of applications.

13. How will I undergo my viva/viva voce?

Vivas can be carried out as scheduled, remotely or virtually. the recommended virtual platform is Zoom. The Chair of the viva is responsible for assuring arrangements for conducting the viva virtually are in place. All parties must agree to the viva being conducted virtually. The student must be visible at all times during the viva examination. The viva must not be conducted by phone or recorded. See below for Virtual Viva Guidelines. 

14. Can I defend my thesis from another location/country e.g. by Skype etc.?

Yes, you can defend your thesis from an external location to UCD. The virtual system recommended in such cases is Zoom. All parties must agree to the viva being conducted virtually.

15. When will I be conferred/will there be a conferring ceremony?

Graduations will continue though it is likely that ceremonies may not take place as normal in the coming months.

16. I need to consult material in the library, what can I do when it is closed?

Please visit the UCD Library website, where there is information on remote access to UCD Library and significant resources available. Keep your supervisor informed of this and see if there are alternative activities that could be worked on in this period.

17. I need to consult material in the National Library (external libraries), what can I do when it is closed?

The National Library like other libraries is currently closed. Please check library websites for access to resources. Keep your supervisor informed of this and see if there are alternative activities that could be worked on in this period.

18. My participants are school children. Now that schools are closed my data collection is paused. What should I do?

If your research/data collection involves an external source to UCD which is currently unavailable and that part of your work needs to be put on hold, please keep a record of these delays. Keep your supervisor informed of this and see if there are alternative activities that could be worked on in this period. 

19. I am collecting data from organisations as part of my research - shall I continue? What is the current policy?

Please clarify with the relevant organisation if continued collection of data is possible, if unavailable and that part of your work needs to be put on hold, please keep a record of these delays. Keep your supervisor informed of this and see if there are alternative activities that could be worked on in this period.

20. How can I do my lab experiments if UCD is closed?

The Return to Campus Working Covid 19 Response Plan applies to those employees and researchers who will be returning to campus following implementation of Phase 1 of the Government’s Roadmap For Reopening Society and Business, and outlines the steps to be taken in advance of any return.

This plan will be kept under review and will be updated as required and as and when public health advice necessitates.

All Employees and Researchers must adhere to the following;

  • No person may access the campus if they are unwell or have been advised to self-isolate
  • Before returning to Campus all persons must have explicit permission to do so and have completed Covid 19 Induction training
  • Any application to return to campus must be made at least three days in advance
  • When on campus such persons must adhere to the provisions of the Return to Campus Working Covid 19 Response Plan and current public health advice.
  • All persons must Sign In / Out via the UCD online system every time they are present on site.
  • Persons should seek guidance from their Local Covid 19 Coordinator or the SIRC Office if they are unsure of any workplace provisions in relation to Covid 19

The principle that those employees that can work from home should continue to do so, and those persons in an at risk group should continue to work from home, still applies until otherwise advised.

Please see the UCD Return to Campus Working Plan for further information.

These FAQs will be updated in line with government restrictions on movement.
At all times information on COVID-19 is available from the HSE 

21. I have an underlying health condition and I can’t come to UCD to do my experiments. What support is available to me?

It is important to check public health guidelines and contact your supervisor and/or student adviser for assistance/support. The UCD student adviser for graduate research students is Ms. Carita Bramhill. You can reach her at carita.bramhill@ucd.ie

22. I need technical support, but I cannot attend the campus – what should I do?

Contact your supervisor for support and work with your supervisor to see if there are alternative activities that could be worked on in this period.

23. What happens if I need to return to my homeplace and I have very poor internet signal/access, making it difficult to work remotely?

Keep your supervisor informed of this and see if there are alternative activities that could be worked on in this period. 

24. Will administrative support at school and college level be available to me during the period of closure?

Yes, the university is operational albeit at a distance. Please email your school or college contact, emails are being monitored, but please allow additional time for a reply

25. Can I access my workspace on campus, work at my desk?

In general, access is limited to the UCD campus, in line with government public health restrictions.   

In line with the Government’s Roadmap For Reopening Society and Business and Return To Work Safety Protocol, UCD has prepared a Return to Campus Working Covid 19 Response PlanThe purpose of this document is to provide all employees and researchers with details of the steps that are necessary to minimise the risk from COVID-19 during the return to campus working, and applies to those who will be returning to campus following implementation of Phase 2 of the Government’s Roadmap.

During this period the following employees and researchers are permitted to return to University premises:

  • Those who need to access their offices to prepare or distribute teaching materials
  • Researchers who require access to laboratories/campus facilities for research continuity purposes
  • Those employees and researchers engaged in COVID-19 research
  • Additional persons whose work is considered as essential as defined by the government
  • Those persons whose presence on campus is required to support the above categories
  • Employees who are generally solitary workers and need to access the campus to work effectively whilst maintaining 2m social distancing, e.g. working in an individual office

The principle that those employees that can work from home should continue to do so, and those persons in an at risk group should continue to work from home, still applies until otherwise advised.

Please see the UCD Return to Campus Working Plan for further information.

These FAQs will be updated in line with government restrictions on movement.
At all times information on COVID-19 is available from the HSE 

26. Can I retrieve my belongings on campus?

No. In general, access is limited to the UCD campus, in line with government public health restrictions.   

During Phase 2 of the Government’s Roadmap, only the following employees and researchers are permitted to return to University premises:

  • Those who need to access their offices to prepare or distribute teaching materials
  • Researchers who require access to laboratories/campus facilities for research continuity purposes
  • Those employees and researchers engaged in COVID-19 research
  • Additional persons whose work is considered as essential as defined by the government
  • Those persons whose presence on campus is required to support the above categories
  • Employees who are generally solitary workers and need to access the campus to work effectively whilst maintaining 2m social distancing, e.g. working in an individual office

The principle that those employees that can work from home should continue to do so, and those persons in an at risk group should continue to work from home, still applies until otherwise advised.

Please see the UCD Return to Campus Working Plan for further information.

These FAQs will be updated in line with government restrictions on movement.
At all times information on COVID-19 is available from the HSE 

27. How will UCD Graduate Studies notify students of restrictions or changes to existing guidelines?

The UCD Graduate Studies website will keep updated guidelines and a FAQ, that are specific to graduate research students.

28. Who can I contact should I need additional guidance relating to my research/studies/programme/fees/funding?

1. For advice on your research project, please contact your Principal Supervisor or Programme Director for those research students in for example Centres for Doctoral Training, professional doctorates etc.

2. For advice on Student Fees, please contact the Student Desk via the Student Connector.

3. For advice on funding, please contact your Principal Supervisor in the first instance. Please note that HRB, IRC and SFI have issued a statement explaining that they are taking a pragmatic approach and will give due consideration on a case-by-case basis to the following:
a. Call deadlines 
b. Deadlines for progress reporting
c. Deadlines for the return of award documentation
d. Budget reallocations or exceptional charges to grants arising from travel/other restrictions
e. No-cost extensions
f. Restructuring of project deliverables and timelines for researcher mobility and collaborations, where direct adverse impact has occurred

If you wish to discuss other issues in relation to your studies or other concerns, please get in touch with your student adviser. The UCD Student Adviser for graduate research students is Ms. Carita Bramhill. You can reach Carita at carita.bramhill@ucd.ie

29. Will I have to pay fees if my PhD is extended/ What happens if my fees can't be paid (if they're paid from a research account)?

Any requests for a no-fee extension can be made via the Standard Student Thesis Extension Form to your School. In keeping with normal governance, requests will then be submitted by the School to the relevant Governing Board for approval. If there are particular circumstances where fees cannot be accessed from a research account, please contact the Student Desk via the Student Connector. Please go to the individual research funder websites for their COVID-19 contingency planning. Please note that HRB, IRC and SFI have issued a statement explaining their approach.

30. Will my scholarship continue if I do not complete on time?

Please contact your supervisor in the first instance who will guide you as much as possible. Also contact your Scholarship funder for specific terms and conditions.

31. What are the implications for my stipend if I do not complete on time?

Please contact your supervisor in the first instance who will guide you as much as possible. Also contact your Scholarship funder for specific terms and conditions.

32. I am due to begin postgraduate research at UCD and will be in receipt of a scholarship. Can I receive scholarship payments, if I cannot travel to Ireland due to COVID-19 restrictions and do not yet have a PPS number?

Revenue have introduced temporary measures, effectively giving new students commencing postgraduate research on a remote basis outside the State, permission to receive scholarship payments without a PPS number. This is as long as usual scholarship exemption conditions are met, the travel restrictions are COVID-19 related (the student should retain evidence of such) and of course the scholar will have to obtain a PPS number as soon as they are in Ireland.

Please see Revenue Commissioners Temporary Measures in relation to the Scholarship Exemption for further information and contact Revenue with any related queries. 

33. Can I get fees refunded?

If you have a circumstance where you believe fees should be refunded, please contact the Student Desk via the Student Connector.

34. I am a self-funded International student who cannot continue my research without access to the University facilities. What should I do?

Please work with your supervisor and RSP on what is best for you. If you are not in a position to carry out your research you may be able to concentrate on writing up a chapter of your thesis or carrying out statistical analysis of your data  etc. However, if your circumstances are such that none of this is a possibility, you could consider applying for Leave of Absence (LOA) for the next trimester and return to your studies in September 2020.

You can apply for LOA online via SISWeb. Further information on how to apply can be found here.  You should read the LOA Policy before applying.

35. Can I/should I take Leave of Absence (LOA) during this time?

Please work with your supervisor and RSP on what is best for you. If you are not in a position to carry out your research you may be able to put some time into writing up a chapter of your thesis, carrying out statistical analysis of your data, carrying out literature research etc.. If your circumstances are such that LOA is considered appropriate, then you can apply online. Please refer to the UCD LOA policy.

36. I have applied for an IRC Postdoctoral Fellowship but will not now be able to complete my thesis revisions before the 31 May deadline. What steps should I take to apply for an extension?

Students should make every effort to work as normal and should, in most cases, be in a position to complete thesis revisions. Please liaise closely with your supervisor and internal examiner toward meeting relevant deadlines. However, if the deadline cannot be met through illness then the normal application for extension can be sought in UCD. The IRC are taking a pragmatic approach to the situation and will be revising call deadlines.

37. If I have planned/booked to attend a conference am I entitled to a refund?

In the current circumstances if a conference is cancelled refunds are usually processed via the conference organiser and the airlines are also processing refunds and alternative arrangements.

38. Should I attend any conferences this year?

Please refer to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) webpage for advice on travel outside Ireland. Currently, the DFA advice is to avoid all non-essential travel to other countries until further notice.

39. I am a prospective research degree student due to start in UCD in May 2020. Can I still begin my research studies?

Yes, students are being admitted to UCD in May 2020. However, it is strongly advised that you contact your Principal Supervisor to establish that you can productively work remotely for the next few months. If it is not feasible to work remotely, it is recommended that you defer your start date to September 2020.

40. If my campus-based course starts online in September, do I still need to apply for a visa?

Yes - if you are visa required. While we are still working toward all students joining us on campus in September, should circumstances require that you commence your studies online, it is anticipated you will be facilitated as quickly as possible to re-join classes taught through traditional (face-to-face teaching delivery) on campus, and accordingly you will require a visa.

We expect that visas will be issued to students before they commence their course - with the visa sticker post-dated to allow entry to Ireland when needed.

41. I need access to a UCD VPN to access specialist software. How do I go about this?

The Research VPN Service has been initiated as a temporary measure due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. It is designed to allow researchers who are engaged in active research on behalf of the University to use the UCD Research VPN in order to gain access to internal UCD systems. This service is suitable for researchers who do not have access to a Staff account and are therefore unable to use the Staff VPN.

Before availing of this service you will need to do the following:

  • Ensure that your Principal Investigator or Research Supervisor is aware of your request and has given written permission to researchit@ucd.ie prior to your application
  • Review the UCD Remote Access Procedure and complete the Research VPN form

42. I am a British student: will I be liable for EU or non-EU fees going forward, post-Brexit?

 British students will still be eligible for the same fee structures as EU students in Ireland. See Department of Education & Skills for further information. 

[last updated 19/06/2020]

Normally the viva voce examination for doctoral candidates and other research degree candidates, where applicable, will take place at a University College Dublin campus. However, under exceptional circumstances, including the current COVID-19 pandemic, a viva voce may be conducted virtually.

The virtual viva may be fully virtual, where all attendees are remote, or semi-virtual, where two attendees are present at the same physical location.

Please see here for guidelines relating to virtual and semi-virtual vivas, and a checklist to be followed when conducting virtual vivas. 

We're aware that although we are keeping our FAQ updated, this is not an exhaustive list. You may have a question specific to your research, wellbeing, or other areas.

If you have a question that we haven't answered, or you need help, please ask us below. We will respond and post updates to the FAQ. 

Contact Graduate Studies