Dear Doctoral students,

A few months ago, none of us would have predicted the changes which the pandemic has wrought on all of our lives. Accommodating such a radical shift in such a short time is not simple, so you should be very proud of what you have managed to achieve in the last few months.

I know you will have faced major disruptions and challenges in your life including the shift to remote supervision and having to complete your research degree milestones remotely in some cases thousands of miles away from your support networks.  As a community you have risen to the challenge and supported each other and I am immensely proud of all of you, and of the staff who have worked so hard to make the process as smooth as possible. For many, these last few months have been extremely difficult so please do find out how our student support services can help you at this time.

I hope that you can take some time to relax with friends and family, enjoy the summer and continue to adapt to the new ways of life we are all facing.

We are in the process of opening up our campus gradually, so that we can ensure training and research activities can take place in person. The safe return to campus necessitates a staged return for research students, and our primary concern has been for your safety. We have put in place a set of guidelines that will help to ensure this, respecting social distancing, safe movement around campus, face coverings, and regular cleaning. We expect a large majority of our laboratories to be open by end of July, and to operate at 20-30% occupancy.

Supervisors and departments will have already been in touch to tell you more about what to expect, and I am aware that many of you have already begun following rota systems so that you can access laboratory spaces and other facilities. Of course, those of you that do not need access to labs will be able to remain at home. Whichever stage you are at, I do urge you to keep in regular contact with your research group and supervisors.

Over the summer, we will continue to work hard to plan the details of both your training and the student experience and will regularly update our website with more information relevant to doctoral students. Please also take advantage of our careers service and find out how they can help you now or in the future.

I know you have had questions regarding the registration, milestone and funding extension policies that we have developed to support you. The Graduate School will summarise what you need to know in a special edition of their newsletter. The newsletter will also provide you with information about preparing for remote exams and guidance on remote supervision meetings. This will be issued in the coming days, so please check your inbox for this useful information. 

Please look after yourselves wherever you are and if you are not yet back on campus, we look forward to welcoming you soon.

Best wishes,