We look forward to welcoming you back to College in the next academic year. 

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in order to ensure that your research degree can continue to be delivered safely, we are writing to provide you with information about how we intend to deliver your programme of research in 2021-22 academic year. 

Undertaking a research degree is always a challenging endeavour. We want to reassure you that we have taken measures to both ensure your safety and enhance your motivation and productivity and that Imperial is a safe place to carry out research, both in laboratories and in research offices . Our priority is for you to experience everything our campuses and London has to offer. However, all on campus provision will be subject to the requirements of the Public Health Advice from the UK Government and College guidelines on any additional health and safety measures in place at the time over the course of the academic year. You will be expected to adhere to the safety measures in place for the College, as set out below. 

We are expecting to be able to deliver the majority certain aspects of your programme on-campus and in-person, including activities to support the delivery of your research and cohort-building activities to help strengthen your connections and links with the Imperial College community. Further information about the detail of this activities will be communicated prior to the start of the academic year. There will continue to be social distancing measures in place to ensure Imperial is a safe place to carry out research. Thank you for helping us to achieve a safe working environment so far. 

Next year, you will be able to attend College in-person, on campus to continue with your research programme within a blended model. Over the 2021-22 academic year, we plan to provide a combination of on-campus with some remote (i.e. multi-mode) activities for research degrees. Continuing your research programme through multi-mode activities, together with flexible research plans, carefully design in collaboration with your supervisor(s), will minimise any further disruption to your learning and research. 

It is important to recognise that, depending on official government public-health guidance for the foreseeable future, the balance between our in-person and remote offering may be subject to change. However, we will maximise your on-campus training and research activities as we progress through the forthcoming year. The College has been working at the forefront of research and patientcare from the start of the pandemic and has both world-leading experience and expertise to ensure your safety while on campus. 

If you haven’t done so already, you should discuss your return to campus with your supervisor(s) who will be able to advise on the specific arrangements in your Department. Please also contact your dedicated School of Public Health PhD Student Administrator Anja Gizdavcic via sph-pgradmin@imperial.ac.uk with any queries. It is critical that you keep in close contact with your supervisor(s) your Department, and the Graduate School for the latest updates, including access to campus. For the latest College advice, please check this webpage

Institutional guarantees 

College-wide re-enrolment activities will operate in a remote format at the start of the academic year, supplemented by additional departmental induction activities that will be provided when you resume working in your laboratory or office and should you arrive later on in the academic year. 

All on-campus provision will be subject to the requirements of the current public health advice from the UK Government and strict adherence to College safety guidelines and protocols on Covid-safe working, including any social distancing measures. We will closely monitor and implement any additional health and safety measures, driven by guidance that may result from the developing scientific evidence. In the event of further restrictions during your programme, we may have to suspend on-campus activities in line with Government requirements. Your department will be in touch with you immediately, should this be the case. 

If you haven’t already done so, you should discuss your continuing research plan with your supervisor(s), making sure to talk through the impact of Covid-19 on your original progression and to agree any necessary adjustments. Access to laboratories and/or other research facilities and offices required for your research project will be determined by the [insert Department name] in the context of official Government guidance. 

The College is also developing community building activities to support the multi-mode experience for all students. This will include College-wide events for research degree students, organised by the Graduate School, which, depending on restrictions at the time, will be delivered either remotely or on-campus during 2021-22. In addition, the Graduate School will deliver its programme of professional skills development training, which forms a key part of your educational development and is part of your research degree milestone assessments, through multi-mode delivery with some workshops available to you on-campus and some remotely. 

In the event that there is an escalation of the current outbreak, or a new outbreak of COVID-19 during your programme, then, in line with Public Health Advice from the UK Government, we may be required to suspend all on-campus activity. In the event of suspension of on-campus activity, you should work with your Supervisor to determine a remote research plan. 

Safety 

You will be required to follow the safety requirements put in place on campus and in all College buildings (including halls) to ensure we keep the campuses and the Imperial community safe and to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, particularly in our ability to deliver your research degree programme and to offer you a full student experience. There will be requirements and expectations placed on you and other members of the College community to follow the safety measures put in place by the UK government and national and local public health authority. These may vary over the academic year but are likely to include a requirement to undertake regular testing and reporting the results of this testing to the College, and an expectation of ensuring that you have been vaccinated. Failure to follow the safety measures and report them to College may result in restrictions being imposed on the delivery of your research degree programme and on your access to the wider student experience. 

Supervision 

It is likely that at least some of your supervision sessions will run remotely over the coming year and the Graduate School has developed guidance for students and staff to help these run effectively. The College’s Mutual Expectations for the research degree student supervisor partnership has been revised to take account of remote working and you may wish to re-visit this document with your supervisor. 

Programme delivery 

If you are able to access the campus, your research programme will be delivered through a mixture of in-person and remote activities. 

PGR students within the School of Public Health are currently working on their research remotely and off-campus and will continue to do so until they can resume their activities on campus. We anticipate that by September 2021 

students will be able to return to campus but this is subject to change. Specific arrangements for new PGR students will be confirmed per department to outline the physical working space for each individual student by late Summer. 

It is likely that initial arrangements will be a blended model meaning that new PGR students may work on-campus for specific/allocated days or periods during the week combined with specific/allocated days or periods working remotely either from home, or working from other student space i.e. library/study space which will continue to be open and available. 

There are some instances whereby PGR students do require and need access to campus facilities, and these will be reviewed on a case by case basis. If you require on-campus access to work from within your Department from the start of the Autumn term, please discuss with your supervisor and make contact with the School’s PGR Administrator via sph-pgradmin@imperial.ac.uk no later than the end of August. 

You are able to access wider campus facilities such as Library study spaces as you wish to. Please note booking may be required as per the information available here

The following activities will be delivered in person where possible but likely to be blended: 

Supervisor meetings (individual and group) 

Autumn term 2021/22 School Core Training. Information about the training schedule will be circulated to students by the end of September at the latest. 

SPH Research Degrees Forum 

Any meetings with your mentors, Departmental rep or Senior Tutor 

Where possible and where these are available, your supervisor will plan for you to engage with in-person UK-based activities to support your research programme, such as placements, fieldtrips and conferences. As soon as restrictions allow, international engagement opportunities may also be supported. 

In the event of suspension of on-campus activity, in-person activities will be adapted for remote delivery. 

Support for Remote Access to College Activities 

You should be aware that to access the content of the programme remotely you will be expected to have access to a computer, webcam, reliable internet connection and that you will need to cover any costs associates with this requirement. You should, by now,a be familiar with and be able to use Microsoft Teams, which is part of the Office365 suite of tools to which you will be provided with free access via your Imperial College IT account. Further information about how to use Microsoft Teams is available at https://www.imperial.ac.uk/admin-services/ict/self-service/connect-communicate/office-365/apps/microsoft-teams/ Training and support for how to use other systems and software will be provided through specific online training modules. 

Assessments (Early Stage Assessment, Late Stage Review and PhD viva voce) 

We plan that your Early Stage Assessment (ESA), Late Stage Review (LSR) or final viva will take place in person and on campus. However, this may change depending upon Government regulations in which case these assessments may take place remotely. These arrangements are also subject to availability of supervisors and assessors so may take place remotely. We have developed and tested protocols to ensure that these assessments can take place remotely without detriment to you and guidance is available to you to ensure that you can prepare yourself for these remote assessments. 

Where your milestones have been extended as a result of lab/research facility closure, you should be able to view your updated milestone deadlines on your ‘My Imperial’ gateway account. If this has not been updated, please contact your PGR Manager/Administrator to sort this out for you. 

Work at Facilities not based at Imperial 

If your research involves work at a remote facility (for example, RAL or CERN), your supervisor(s) will work with you to agree a suitable schedule of work in accordance with local or national advice in place at the time. 

Length of research programme 

We anticipate that you will be able to complete your research degree programme within the timescale previously agreed, taking into account extensions which may already have been approved. However, if we are required to close the College and are therefore unable to deliver part of your research programme, the length of the research active period of your programme may be extended again, with no additional tuition fees being levied for that period of extension. 

Please also be reminded that the Thesis Deadline Extension procedure is also available to you should you find that you have been affected by circumstances beyond your control. 

Note that you will be responsible for any additional living/maintenance costs during an extension and, if you are living in College accommodation, we are unable to guarantee that your accommodation can be extended beyond your original completion date. Your department and supervisors will be able to provide further guidance well in advance of your expected completion date regarding the necessity of extending your project. 

Visas and Immigration 

If you require a visa to study in the UK, it is important that you have read the guidance provided by the International Student Support Team at the College online

Imperial has a team of specialist immigration advisers who can provide specific advice on your immigration situation and on the best options for you. They can be reached by email on international@imperial.ac.uk 

It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct immigration permission for your studies in the UK. 

Departmental PGR Handbook 

You are advised to refer to the on-line version of the Department Handbook, which will be regularly updated with information regarding your research programme. 

We will be in touch by late Summer to clarify the arrangements regarding accessing department working space for continuing PGR students. Please contact Anja Gizdavcic for any queries/support via sph-pgradmin@imperial.ac.uk. 

Dr Abbas Dehghan 

Director of Postgraduate Studies