Supporting Information for Higher Degree Research

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the HDR Team are working remotely in accordance with federal and state government social distancing guidelines. This involves ceasing face-to-face contact and performing the bulk of our business online or via phone.

We are still available, and are still providing the same services, just remotely.

Please visit our Contact HDR Webpage for all required contact phone numbers and other details.

Updated advice and clarification for UNE researchers, including HDR candidates, and third-party research organisations.

New and Commencing students
I have an offer for the current Research Period, am I still able to commence?

Yes, you are still able to enrol into your degree subject to your supervisors and School being able to support you to commence your research.  Please follow the steps outlined in your Offer of Admission to formally accept your offer and enrol in your degree. Research Services will then seek the necessary approvals before processing your enrolment.

I can’t commence my program by the deadline listed in my offer of admission or scholarship offer – can I defer commencement?

Please contact the HDR Team in Research Services via AskUNE with your request to defer your commencement.

International students should also contact UNE International to obtain an updated Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE).

What if I cannot arrive in Armidale or Australia due to travel restrictions and/or bans?

Students who were provided with an on campus offer letter, may be able to commence their studies overseas or externally.

This will need to be requested in writing to the HDR Team in Research Services via AskUNE.

All applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis in conjunction with the Supervisors, Faculties and if applicable, UNE International.

Current Students
My computer provided by UNE has Windows 7 on it, what do I need to do?

The operating system Windows 7 is no longer supported by Microsoft as of January 2020, and this means that Microsoft is not providing security update support, meaning no more bug-fixes, security patches or new functionality, making any user significantly more susceptible to malware attacks.

The University of New England has directed that all network-connected (on campus or remote) university computers must be upgraded or removed from the campus network, this includes the computer hardware supplied to our Higher Degree Research students.

If you are currently running Windows 7, please submit a Request for Windows 10 Migration to the UNE ITD Service Desk, or contact the UNE ITD Service Desk on Ph: 02 6773 5000 and ask to have your laptop or computer upgraded.

Please also be sure to back your data up using one of the university data storage solutions.

I am due to complete my Confirmation of Candidature soon, how will that be impacted?

You will need to complete your Confirmation of Candidature by digital means such as Zoom or Skype.  Please note, external observers will not be able to attend, other than via digital means.

You will be contacted by your Faculty Research Office staff or Principal Supervisor with instructions on how to conduct your Confirmation.

I am a current student, what happens to my candidature?

Your candidature and any scholarship payments you are in receipt of will continue while you are still actively studying and making adequate progress in your research program. If you believe your research progress is going to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and you cannot adequately progress in your degree at this time, a range of options are available to overcome any difficulties that may be encountered. For example:

  • Leave of absence
  • Extension to candidature
  • If you are located overseas, you can continue to work ‘in-country’ on your research project, by developing a research plan with regular remote contact (via Skype, Zoom) with your supervisory team.
  • Annual Leave

Please contact your Principal Supervisor, Graduate Research School or Faculty Office to discuss your circumstances and the options available to you. You can also contact the HDR Team in Research Services for assistance.

Should I contact my supervisor at this time?

Yes, definitely. With the situation changing on a daily basis, HDR Students should be in weekly contact with their supervisors.

Now that I cannot physically access the Library, how can I contact them?

Although you will no longer have physical access to the building, please rest assured the majority of Library services will continue to operate as normal. For further information, please contact the Library – full details are available on the website.

Can I apply for an Extension to my candidature?

Yes, you can apply for an extension to your candidature. Scholarships cannot normally be extended, however there is some flexibility due to the current situation. These will be assessed on a case-by- case basis depending on the nature and length of the impacts. Please ensure that you provide evidence to support your application. You will need approval from your Principal Supervisor.

To apply for an extension to candidature, please submit the online form.

I am unable to continue with research due to extenuating circumstances. Will I lose my scholarship?

If you are prevented from continuing your research, you should work with your supervisors to find other work you can productively continue with at this time. For example, writing papers, undertaking your literature review, working on the write up of your thesis.

While you are making adequate research progress, your scholarship payments will continue.

I am an International Student and want to return to my home country. What are my options?

The situation around COVID-19 continues to develop rapidly and announcements from the Australian government are being made regularly.  Most recent announcements relate to overseas nationals (including students).  It is not yet clear how these changes will impact HDR candidates specifically and UNE will continue to monitor events. We will provide a further update as soon as the Federal position becomes clearer and update this site.

For further information on Australian Government information regarding Covid-19 please refer to the Department of Home Affairs webpage

I am a current student stuck overseas (personal, research, conference) due to travel restrictions. What are my options?

You should make contact with your Principal Supervisor in the first instance to work out a plan as to what action to take. If you can continue to make adequate research progress to your work in country then this is an option. If you cannot continue to make adequate research progress the other option is to take a Leave of Absence.

If you were on University business while overseas, please contact your Graduate Research School or Faculty Research Office for further assistance.

I am a HDR student and also provide teaching support. How do I balance work with other responsibilities?

You should contact your supervisors to manage and ensure appropriate working arrangements. You may wish consider converting to part-time status or taking a Leave of Absence from your studies at this time if it’s possible.

I need to work from home during this time, what do I do?

You should consult with your supervisors in the first instance on how you can progress in your research while working at home.

You must also complete the Working from home checklist form which has been issued to you by your Graduate Research School/Faculty Research Office.

How do I submit my thesis for examination?

All thesis submission and examination will take place through electronic submission. Examiners will not be able to request hard copies of the thesis to examine.

Otherwise, there is no change to the thesis submission process for students.

Current Students Cont.
Can I apply for an extension to my candidature and stipend due to delays caused by COVID-19?

UNE is supporting extensions to candidature and stipend  for students who have been effected by extenuating circumstances, including COVID-19. For further information, including round dates to apply, please visit our extenuating circumstances page.

Am I able to access my office or workspace on the UNE campus?

From 5pm 29 April, all UNE buildings will be locked. Staff and students will need to use their after-hours access (swipe or key) during the day to gain entry to the buildings.

If your building is not on the Building List , you will need to request access from your Faculty Dean directly or through your Graduate Research School via the email contacts below:

HASSE – dean-hasse@une.edu.auSABL – hdr-sabl@une.edu.au
Medicine & Health – hdr-mh@une.edu.au

Please read the Armidale Campus building access link which provides information on building management, alternative hot desk spaces for HDR candidates, and the relevant contacts for booking spaces during this period.

Fieldwork and Ethics
I had planned to conduct fieldwork in the near future what should I do?

If you are able to satisfy all the criteria listed within the Research and COVID-19 guidelines as outlined under the heading 'Current and planned future research'.

You should note that the Australian Government has advised that all non-essential travel within Australia be avoided, particularly interstate travel due to increased state border restrictions and requirement to isolate for 14 days.  Any imminent domestic travel that involves a flight and/or travel interstate should be cancelled or deferred until further notice.  Do not book any domestic or international travel until further notice.

For further information, please see the NSW Government Travel and Transport Advice website.

Can I proceed with my research if it has been approved by the Ethics Committee?

Any research being undertaken must be able to satisfy all the criteria listed within the Research and COVID-19 guidelines as outlined under the heading “Current and planned future research”

With the current COVID-19 restrictions, no face-to-face interviews/interactions are able to be conducted at this time. If your ethics application contained information about face-to-face as well as Zoom, Skype or phone interviews/interactions, you may proceed via Zoom, Skype or phone interviews/interaction.

Can I still apply for Human Ethics Approval?

Yes.  The Human Ethics Committee is still assessing application but researcher need to keep in mind that research involving direct (in person) contact with participants will not be assessed or approved.  When completing your application please take into consideration how you can safely conduct your research. For example; interviews can be conducted over the telephone or via Skype/Zoom, online surveys are also a safe way to gather data.  Face-to-Face surveying will not be approved, and neither will interventions that include contact with participants (blood sampling, EEG, ECG, heart rate monitoring etc).

If you have any questions, please contact humanethics@une.edu.au or Ph: 02 6773 3449.

Support and Motivation
I am experiencing financial hardship due to the circumstances around the COVID-19 pandemic, is there any financial support available?

Funding has been made available from the University to support quick response grants for UNE students experiencing financial hardship impacting their ability to continue their academic studies (course program or research) at the University.

Student Emergency Assistance Fund

The grants are intended for students who find themselves in unexpected or unforeseen financial hardship, specifically as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The fund does not have the capacity to provide ongoing costs, and students should note that funds, where provided, are done so on a one-off basis and there are limits in terms of how much funding is available or can be provided to each applicant.

I am feeling stressed and overwhelmed about the COVID-19 pandemic, what support is available?

The University wishes to support the health and wellbeing of all its students and staff.

HDR Students have access to the same support services as all UNE students, in the form of free and confidential counselling services. Further information on support services can be found under the Support and Wellbeing heading on the Information for Students webpage.

How can I stay motivated with my writing during this time?

30 Day Writing Challenge

You are able to take part in a 30 day writing challenge put on by the Daily Writing Initiative at UNE. The initiative aims to help people build a daily writing habit by providing structure, accountability, and support.

If you are interested in participating in the Challenge – or simply want more information – sign up to the Daily Writing Initiative’s mailing list here. Through the mailing list, you will get all the information you need on how to participate. If you have questions, please direct them to alva.curtsdotter@une.edu.au.

For more motivation and tips for HDRs on working from home, please see the thread.

Academic Skills Office Workshops

The Academic Skills Office (ASO) will still continue to hold their workshops to further assist candidates during this time. For a full list of the workshops and information on how to access the workshops, please see the ASO webpage.

Connecting with Others

Make sure to check out the Bunker Down website, a place to escape, connect, and check out a tonne of wonderful resources whilst we all stay safe at home. If you’re on Facebook, we’d love to have you join the Bunker Down Facebook Group, where hundreds of other students in similar circumstances are chatting about how they’re getting through.