Academic Year 20/21 update (9 July 2020)

Your programme will begin on schedule in the Autumn and we plan to reopen our campuses to students.

We are looking forward to seeing you in person, if travel and visa arrangements allow. If you can’t travel to campus in time for the start of term, we want to reassure you that we have made plans which make it possible to offer you a high-quality remote educational experience during the Autumn term.

We will aim to further update you on our plans for next Spring and Summer terms this October, but we want you to know we will be well-prepared for any change in official government guidance.

Your education

If you are an Undergraduate or Postgraduate Taught student your  teaching  will be a combination of on-campus (in-person) and remote learning (online). We call this ‘multi-mode’ delivery.

This means:

  • We will combine on-campus learning and assessment, including laboratory work, with the benefits of remote learning and assessment. At all times we will ensure we meet social distancing guidelines.
  • We look forward to welcoming students to campus for the start of Autumn term. Of course, we fully appreciate that everyone’s circumstances are different and that this may not be possible for you. Therefore, if you are unable to travel to campus for Autumn term, we have made plans so that you will not be disadvantaged in your learning experience over the course of your programme.
  • Some learning and assessment activities will be very difficult to replace with a remote equivalent. In these cases, they will be moved with minimal disruption to a later date in your programme.

Whatever category of student you are it is important to recognise that, depending on official government guidance throughout the entirety of next academic year, the balance in the ‘multi-mode’ offering may be subject to change. We hope to be able to offer you increased on-campus learning and research activities throughout the year.

Frequently asked questions

Will the academic year begin on schedule?

Yes. Term will begin on schedule across College in the Autumn, and we are looking forward to welcoming you to Imperial.

Please be aware that programme-specific variations to term dates still apply. Please contact your Department if you are unsure of this date.

How will my programme be taught in the Autumn term?

Safety of both our students and staff is our highest priority. Social distancing will mean that we will need to provide your teaching as a combination of on-campus (in-person) and remote learning (online).

Your Department is working on the details of your specific programme and will provide more information for you in due course.

If you are unable to travel to campus for Autumn term all your teaching will be delivered remotely. However, we have made plans so that you will not be disadvantaged in your learning experience over the course of your programme.

Can I choose whether I receive either on-campus or remote learning?

No, we will not be offering a solely on-campus or solely remote learning experience as a default. Ideally in the current circumstances you will receive a combination of both types of teaching. Your department will confirm the details with you. 

If you are a student unable to travel to campus for Autumn term your teaching will be entirely remote, but it will be engaging and of a high-quality. We have made plans so that you will not be disadvantaged in your learning experience over the course of your programme.

How will lectures and larger tutorials be delivered?

Social distancing will mean that your teaching needs to be a combination of on-campus (in-person) and remote learning (online). This means lectures and larger tutorials will be challenging to deliver on campus in the Autumn term and much of this teaching will occur remotely.

How will labs and other ‘practical’ parts of my programme be delivered?

As the campus gradually reopens over the coming months, where safe and feasible we will deliver on-campus learning sessions alongside remote learning. We will prioritise the activities we know are best experienced in-person, such as laboratory work.

Some learning and assessment activities are very difficult to replace with a remote equivalent. In these cases, they will be moved with minimal disruption to a later date in your programme. Your department will confirm the details with you.

It is important to recognise that, depending on official government guidance throughout the entirety of next academic year, the balance in the ‘multi-mode’ offering may be subject to change. We hope to be able to offer you increased on-campus learning activities throughout the year.

How will the College deliver assessment?

Social distancing will mean that your assessments will be delivered in multi-mode in the Autumn term. This means a combination of on-campus (in-person) and remote (online).

If you are unable to travel to campus for Autumn term, your Department will ensure that the delivery of your assessments reflect this reality.

Will I still be taught by the same staff?

Yes, our world-leading teachers and researchers will be available to teach and support you both remotely and on-campus, where applicable and where guidelines and circumstances allow.

An exception is that due to the COVID-19 pandemic it is possible that some specific clinical staff teaching within the Faculty of Medicine may be temporarily unavailable due to professional responsibilities. This will not directly impact your teaching.

Do I need to return to campus to complete my Autumn term?

We look forward to welcoming students to campus for the start of Autumn term. Of course, we fully appreciate that everyone’s circumstances are different and that this may not be possible for you. Therefore, if you are unable to travel to campus for Autumn term, we have made plans so that you will not be disadvantaged in your learning experience over the course of your programme.

You should contact your Department if you know that your circumstances mean that you will be unable to return to campus for Autumn term.

Do I need to return to campus to complete my Spring and Summer terms?

We have not yet confirmed plans for Spring and Summer terms. We plan to update our community in October. We will review the social distancing guidance at that point and make further decisions in the best interests of our students and staff.

If you do choose to join us in the UK, you should note the ongoing discussion regarding the length of time that travellers must quarantine once they have arrived in the country. Please bear this in mind and check the latest guidance for entering the United Kingdom on the Government’s website. Please also ensure you are aware of your visa requirements and contact the International Student Support team if you need further specialist immigration advice.

If it’s necessary for you to be in self isolation or quarantine when you arrive and you are in halls of residence, we are making arrangements to support you. We will make it possible for you to arrive in halls two weeks before the start of term, at no extra cost.

How will I keep in touch with my personal tutor?

Personal tutors have been operating online office hours throughout this Summer term. In the Autumn term this will become a permanent feature in Departments. This will be the case while the College must adhere to the latest guidelines from the UK Government and Public Health England.

Will I be able to go on field trips?

The College is well-known for offering excellent field trip opportunities in a variety of our programmes. Some of these trips can be delivered in the UK, while others ideally require international travel.

We anticipate the range of international destinations and modes of transport available to our staff and students will be significantly reduced in the Autumn term. As a community we will need to adhere to individual countries’ and regions’ guidance regarding social distancing.

Your Department will be considering these factors and will make plans accordingly. Please keep in close contact with your Department for further information on any proposed field trips.

Will I be able to go on my year abroad?

Year abroad agreements are made between the College and participating institutions. The College will seek to confirm arrangements as soon as possible with institutions and students.

The College remains committed to international exchange and will be urging year abroad placements to go ahead where we believe it is in the best interests of our students. If participating institutions or Imperial do not consider your year abroad to be safe, we will look to make alternative arrangements in consultation with you.

Please keep in close contact with your Department, Year Abroad Co-ordinator or Personal Tutor if you are concerned about the status of your year abroad placement.

Will I be able to do my industrial placement?

We understand industrial placements are a core part of several programmes at the College and are an important way for you to gain insight and connections within industries related to your discipline.

Placements are generally confirmed through agreements between the College and participating companies. Some academic departments will have different arrangements, so you should check with your department.

There are several factors that may influence whether a specific placement may go ahead in the Autumn term. These may include the economic outlook of our partners, their own workplace social distancing guidelines, and the guidelines of the region or country the partner is based in.

Please keep in close contact with your Department or Personal Tutor if you are concerned about the status of your industrial placement.

What will happen with Erasmus+?

The College is providing regular updates on the Erasmus+ webpages.

Will medical student clinical placements still go ahead?

Yes – with guidance and approval from the Medical Schools Council, clinical placements have been approved to resume. For fifth and sixth year undergraduate medical students, this will be from late July. You should have received email communications about this from the School of Medicine.

Students who fall into a clinically vulnerable category, need shielding or who cannot travel back to the UK should get in touch with the Medicine FEO Team responsible for the year you are going into, who will work through an appropriate, tailored solution with you where possible. The School of Medicine is working closely with both its primary and secondary care partners to make sure your placements are as safe as possible, and will reassess in light of any changes to national or local guidance. Any changes will be communicated directly to you from the School of Medicine.

The Medical Schools Council has published recently its current guidance for students.

Will you charge the same tuition fees as previously?

Yes. We take the view that our Autumn teaching will be of equal quality and value to our pre-coronavirus offering. The plans we are putting in place are intended to enable you to graduate from the College as a highly skilled individual, sought out by employers as a future leader in science, engineering, medicine, or business.

It is important to recognise that the university experience will be different, however. We understand that as a student you will want to make many amazing memories inside and outside of the classroom. In the coming months we will take two actions to ensure you still receive the best that Imperial has to offer. We will clearly define the quality you should expect from both the on-campus and remote parts of your teaching, and we will also work with Departments and Imperial College Union to make sure you feel welcome and supported when you join or re-join our student community in the Autumn.

How will you support my career goals?

As a leader in science, engineering, medicine, and business, we believe very strongly that this pandemic should not mean that the big thinkers of tomorrow should have to put their ambitions on hold today.

We have a Careers Service that will support you with your career from day one and up to three years after graduation. We are currently running a full and remote Careers Service which includes one to one appointments as well as a full calendar of workshops, seminars and employer events.

We want to ensure that you are still learning the crucial skills you would expect from your programme. We know that this hands-on experience is especially important to our postgraduates, who may be closest to applying for high-skilled roles.

Imperial also continues to develop partnerships with industry. Many modules delivered remotely throughout this Summer term featured discussions with industry leaders. Students have appreciated these opportunities to speak with diverse and influential individuals working in sectors they may wish to join themselves someday.

I’m an incoming exchange student. When will I find out more?

Offer holders should receive a letter from the College’s Exchange Co-ordinator on or after 24 June. If you have yet to receive that letter or you have yet to receive an offer of admission you can contact the College’s Exchange Co-ordinator.

What if I need a visa?

If you have questions about obtaining or renewing a student visa or ATAS certificate, read the FAQs from the International Student Support team or contact them via email for detailed information and advice.

What if I’m from the EU, do I need a visa?

The UK leaves the European Union on 31 December 2020.  If you are from an EU national country, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and you are coming to study in the UK or are currently a student in the UK, please look at the information on the dedicated EEA/Swiss nationals visa advice page.

I’m a current MRes/Doctoral student, when can I return to campus to continue my research?

Safety of both our students and staff is our highest priority.

Many MRes and Doctoral students have already made a limited return to campus and have been provided with access to labs and study space. We intend to increase that number over the coming weeks and months.

You can find out more on our restarting research pages. Please do not be concerned if your Department is not mentioned here – many Departments are working to re-open their labs and study spaces in a safe fashion and your Supervisor will be in touch with you directly about how that will work.

It is important to recognise that, depending on official government guidance for the foreseeable future, the balance in the ‘multi-mode’ offering may be subject to change. We will do our best to provide you increased on-campus training and research activities as we progress throughout the year.

We advise you keep in contact with your Supervisor and Department for the latest updates about access to campus.

I’m an MRes/Doctoral offer holder, how will campus work when I join the College?

We look forward to you joining us at the College, whether you have studied with us previously or are a newcomer.

Safety of both our students and staff is our highest priority. Many MRes and Doctoral students have already made a limited return to campus and have been provided with access to labs and study space. We intend to increase that number over the coming weeks and months.

You can find out more on our restarting research pages. Please do not be concerned if your Department is not mentioned here – many Departments are working to re-open their labs and study space in a safe fashion and your Supervisor will be in touch with you directly about how that will work.

It is important to recognise that, depending on official government guidance for the foreseeable future, the balance in the ‘multi-mode’ offering may be subject to change. We will do our best to provide you increased on-campus training and research activities as we progress throughout the year.

We advise you keep in contact with your Supervisor and Department for the latest updates about access to campus.

I’m an MRes/Doctoral student/offer holder and I think I may not be able to travel to campus for my programme.

Your programme will begin on schedule. Building on the work that is currently ongoing to reopen our campuses, we are looking forward to seeing you in person, if travel and visa arrangements allow.

If you can’t travel to campus in time for the start of your MRes or Doctorate you should immediately contact either your Departmental contact, or for a Doctorate, your Supervisor and Funder. It may be possible to plan to modify your research studies, but it is important we know as soon as possible. While we will do everything possible to allow you to begin your programme on schedule please be mindful that this may not be possible in a small number of cases.

What online support resources are available to MRes and Doctoral students?

The Student Support Zone is for all students and provides helpful support and information about staying healthy and maintaining good wellbeing. 

The Doctoral Success Guide is specifically for Doctoral students and provides you with the College’s top ten tips for starting your Doctorate, information on developing your skills as a researcher, professional development opportunities delivered by the Graduate School, wellbeing and your progression.

I’m a Doctoral student wanting to apply for a registration or milestone extension.

We understand that the current situation will likely have adversely impacted your plans to progress with your training within the original timeframe you had intended. The following information relates to registration/milestone extensions, not the separate process of applying for a funded extension.

Full guidance for all students on the impact of COVD-19 and appropriate registration adjustments is available on the Registry webpages.

We have identified three different scenarios which may apply to you, which we detail below.

Students who are not in their Writing Up Period

If you are not in the Writing Up Period, and you have been prevented from continuing with your research due to COVID-19, you will receive an automatic no-cost extension to your registration and all future assessment milestones. 

Milestones are defined as:

  • Early Stage Assessment
  • Late Stage Review
  • Progress Review
  • Examination Entry
  • Thesis Submission (including Thesis Re-submission, for those required to re-submit their thesis subject to additional research or experimental work).

The extension process will be handled by your Department and your Department may have specific guidance for you in order to take this forward.  If you have any concerns, please talk to your Department.  

If you were due to enter the Writing Up Period from 16 March 2020 onwards you can proceed as normal and be considered for entry at the appropriate point. No adjustments will be applied to your milestone deadlines and you will be expected to submit within 12 months of entering your Writing Up Period (or by the given submission deadline, whichever is sooner).

However, if you found that you have been prevented from finalising your experimental work and data gathering due to COVID-19, the automatic no-cost extension is also available to you.You should let your Department know whether you wish to proceed as normal or whether you require a no-cost extension to your milestones.

Students currently in their Writing Up Period

If you had already progressed to writing up prior to 16 March 2020 you are not expected to have been impacted by the closure of laboratories and research facilities and, as such, no automatic registration or milestone extensions will be applied. 

However, if you have been affected by circumstances beyond your control in the lead up to thesis submission you will be able to request an extension to your thesis submission deadline. You should liaise with your Supervisor to determine a reasonable new submission deadline, which should then be requested in accordance with the College’s Late Case Procedure. 

Students wishing to apply for an Interruption of Studies 

Upon consideration of the above options, you could choose to interrupt your studies.  However, if you interrupt, please note there will be visa implications and financial implications which arise from losing your student status. Further guidance on interrupting your studies.

I’m a Doctoral student wanting to apply for a funded extension

Having explored a registration or milestone extension, you may also require additional funding to enable you to continue studying with us. It is important to recognise that these are separate processes and are determined by your funding source. Funding sources for Doctorates differ significantly. If you are unsure of who your funder is, your Supervisor should be able to help you identify them. 

We have identified two different scenarios which may apply to you, which we detail below. 

UKRI or Wellcome Trust-funded Doctorates

The Wellcome Trust has stated that it will pay an additional six month's funding to pay for stipends for studentships where the training grant is due to end 1 March - 31 December 2020, and an additional three months stipend where the training grant is due to end in 2021. This will happen automatically.

UKRI has provided a route for training grant holders to apply for costed extensions for up to six months for final year students and on a case-by-case basis for non-final year students. This is happening through a series of surveys. If you are unsure if your case has been included in a survey you should contact your Supervisor and ask them to raise this with the training grant holder.

The College Scheme

You are eligible to apply to the College Scheme if:  

  • Your Doctorate is funded by a fixed term grant that was competitively won (e.g. a scholarship from the College, or a national, international or industrial funder) and your funder is unable to extend your stipend
  • You are a full-time student who has progressed beyond first year
  • You are a part-time student who has progressed beyond first and second year

You cannot apply to this scheme if you are:

  • Currently interrupting your studies
  • In the Writing Up Period (completing research status (CRS) or writing up away from College)
  • Funded by UKRI or the Wellcome Trust
  • Self-funded
  • A full-time first-year student
  • A part-time first or second-year student

Find out more information about the College Scheme.

I’m eligible for a funded extension, how do I apply?

The College’s second round of stipend extension funding is now open for eligible students. The deadline for students to submit their application is 5pm 20 July.  You will find out the outcome of your application by the end of August.

The process is open to eligible students whose:

  • Funding is due to finish 1 March 2020 – 30 September 2020 and who missed the first round of funding
  • Funding is due to finish 1 October 2020 – 28 February 2021.

Find out more information about applying for an extension to your stipend

I’m not eligible for a funded extension, what additional support is available?

The College’s Student Support Fund remains a source of support if you are not assisted by existing policies. There may also be support available to you via Departmental Funds or external discipline-based organisations.

Will I be charged tuition fees during an extension?

No, the College will not charge any tuitions fees during any extension, irrespective of your funding.

I’m a first-year Doctoral student, which part of these extension policies applies to me?

The College has taken the position that although all students have been impacted by the pandemic, students in later years of their training are likely to have considerably less time and options to adjust their research plans compared to first-year students. Therefore, please be aware that although you are eligible for an extension to your registration or milestones, it is unlikely that you will be eligible for a funded extension.

Funding sources for Doctorates differ significantly and your funder will have made their own decision regarding funded extensions for first-year students. If you are unsure of your funding source you should check with your Supervisor. If the College is your funder then please be aware that we have decided our policy to provide limited stipend extensions is available only to later-year students, not first-year students. 

However, it is still important for you to log any disruption to your training as a result of COVID-19.  Please be reassured that the College, your Department and your Supervisor will be doing everything we can to support you to progress.

I’m a Doctoral student needing further information on remote supervision, exams, and my research plan.

We have developed guidance on remote PHd supervision & exams to support effective remote supervision and provide information on taking remote exams (ESA, LSR and Viva). 

You should talk to your Supervisor about your return to experimental research and discuss whether your research plan needs to be adjusted.  The ‘Mutual Expectations for the Research Degree Student Supervisor Partnership’ document has been updated and you are strongly encouraged to re-visit this with your Supervisor.

How is COVID-19 impacting research funding at the College?

The Research Office has provided further information on the wider impact of COVID-19 on research funding at the College.

Our remote learning in action

Take a look through some of our case studies of remote learning being delivered at the College. Click on any of the items to find out more.