Message from the Provost to students - Support for postgraduate research students - 27 March 2020
Dear PGR students,
First, I hope you are remaining safe and well in your remote working environment, and that you have the support of your families, friends and loved ones.
Following my message on Tuesday, I wanted to reassure you that we are working hard to minimise the impact of the temporary closure of most laboratories upon your degrees. The rapid changes necessitated by the COVID pandemic have made significant dislocations to research projects, and to research degrees as a consequence.
I’m sure that you are now getting used to your group meetings taking place by means of remote video links. I’ve found this transition to require some adjustment to my own group’s way of working and interacting. These are opportunities also. Please do check in regularly with your supervisor, group members and fellow students.
I am immensely grateful to all of you for accommodating the changes to your education and research that have been made necessary by these events. We want to help you complete your degrees as close to your previous timing as possible, and to the same standard you have been working toward. This may mean adjusting your project objectives and workplan, using this time to write up results, and to prepare papers and reports as well as to draft parts of your theses. We will adjust our regulations to ensure that the COVID delays do not impede your progression steps, delaying these where necessary without penalty.
You may have concerns about how you will finish your programmes if you have funding only for a fixed period. We are taking the following actions to alleviate this situation. First, we are working with research funders to extend grants in order to enable degrees and projects to complete. Second, where an extension is clearly needed for academic reasons due to the laboratory closure or other COVID issues, we will be setting criteria to determine appropriate underwriting of your stipends for up to the duration of the shut down, so that you are sure to have sufficient funds to complete your degrees.
Our primary objective is your health and wellbeing. I encourage you to take advantage of help available in your Departments and in the College to support you during this exceptional period.
As research students, you are a key part of Imperial’s community, helping create new knowledge to improve our understanding of the world and to shape it though technology and practise. Be assured that the College will support you through this period of remote research. Our strength as a community comes from our willingness to work together through challenges, and I am convinced that we shall be stronger together when life returns back to a more familiar academic mien.
Professor Ian Walmsley, Provost