To support our Higher Degree Researchers (HDR), we have compiled information about the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on your research, study, presenting of milestones, scholarships and administrative tasks.

We encourage you to also refer to the information regarding the impact of COVID-19 for current students and international students.

Research, study & professional development

It’s important that if you come on to campus you follow safe practices, including:

  • personal hygiene
  • desk hygiene (particularly around shared keyboards, phones and pens)
  • kitchen hygiene (washing your own dishes immediately)
  • social distancing (e.g. studying 2 metres away from another student or staff member).

If you come on to campus to study and you find that you are not able to keep do these things, it is best not to study on campus.

We encourage you to discuss your study arrangements with your supervisor.

VU is equipped for online meetings between students and supervisors through Webex (login to the intranet to view these instructions). You may also like to use Skype, FaceTime or Zoom.

Yes, all the coursework units will continue to be delivered.

Units in all programs will be delivered using Zoom classrooms, supported by the extensive online resources on VU Collaborate.

Virtual attendance in the Zoom sessions is essential to maximise your student experience.

VU is equipped for online meetings between students and supervisors through Webex.

You may also like to use Skype, FaceTime or Zoom.

As the situation is evolving, you will probably have a better idea of how, and for how long, your research activities are impacted. You may still be able to:

  • work on your literature review
  • prepare your ethics application or approval
  • prepare manuscripts for submission to journals
  • focus on professional development.

If you are not able to make adequate progress because social distancing guidelines are preventing you from undertaking your research, you must discuss this with your supervisor. Your supervisor is the most appropriate person to advise you on research risk assessment and mitigation strategies. You can also contact [email protected] and make a time to discussion candidature management options.

Yes, the Researcher Professional Development programs are still being delivered and we have special sessions particularly relating to the COVID-19 situation. All sessions are being delivered online using Zoom or Webex.

Please check researcher development for up-to-date information about what is on offer.

Due to the evolving COVID-19 Pandemic, as of the 23rd April 2020, we have been advised that the Department of Education and Training will not accept applications to conduct research in schools or early childhood settings until further notice. Schools and early childhood settings, including staff and children in these sites, may not be contacted to participate in research or evaluations. Amendments to existing projects also cannot be considered at this time.

As research in schools must be approved by both the Victoria University HREC and the DET ethics committee, such active research in which data is being collected, or participants are being recruited must now cease until such time as we hear from the Department of Education and Training.

Private education providers may be in a similar situation, and permission to conduct research will still need to be obtained from the principal of any associated school.

In the first instance, student investigators should discuss research options with their supervisors.

Chat will reopen:
Tue, 9am – 6pm (AEST)
Local time: Tuesday 29 September 4:29am AEST AEST

Ethics applications & reviews

Yes. This is very important.

COVID-19 may mean that your data collection approach, which involves/involved human contact/close physical contact with research participants/other stakeholders, may be no longer feasible in the short- or long-terms. If you have already obtained ethics approval for your research project and you are changing your data collection approach, you are required to advise the relevant Ethics committee and have your new approach approved before collecting data.

If your research questions can still be answered using secondary data to overcome the issues you are confronting, in most circumstances you must still apply for ethics approval.

Please discuss this with your supervisor who is best placed to advise you on these matters. Refer to ethics & biosafety support for more information.

Yes. This is very important.

Please discuss this with the Principal Investigator of the approved ethics application (usually one of your supervisors) and ask them to send an email to the appropriate committee advising them of the delay/amendment, referring to the approved ethics application number. They will be contacted and arrangements will be made to ensure University records are accurate.

Refer to ethics & biosafety support for more information.

Candidature milestones & extension to candidature

If it’s not possible to present your creative project as planned, you may need to think about different modes of delivery. The arts sector has been highly innovative in terms of how it is engaging with audiences using Zoom. If you are at stage where you can and want to proceed with your live performance, we encourage you to consider alternative ways to engage with your audience.

However, if you feel that this is not possible and that you cannot make adequate progress in your research, please speak with your supervisors or contact [email protected] to discuss alternative enrolment options.

Candidates have been participating in their candidature milestone presentations via Zoom or Webex. Candidates and supervisors will be sent a Webex meeting invitation. If all panel members and you agree to do this via Zoom, your principal supervisor can organise a Zoom meeting.

We understand that undertaking a candidature milestone can be an anxious time, particularly during the current climate. Please have an encouraging contact (e.g. a supportive friend or family member) available for after the meeting – someone who you can debrief with and discuss how it went.

Laboratory access

Our research on campus has continued in a carefully managed way since the beginning of the pandemic. In responding to the increasing requests for access to research facilities during a time of increasing community transmission and restrictions, we will take a pause on our on-campus on campus laboratory-based research for two weeks. During this time, we will review and refresh our arrangements in laboratories to accommodate these requests in a COVID safe way and to transition to a streamlined online request system.

If you currently have approval to conduct on campus research this will be put on hold effective from 4pm, Friday, 10 July. After the review, access to campus for approved research will likely to be permitted again on Monday 27 July (subject to confirmation).

Exceptional circumstances

If you consider that you have exceptional circumstances that require continued access to the laboratories, we encourage you to make a request by 4pm, Friday, 10 July using the online form. Exceptional circumstances may include:

  • research related to COVID-related vaccines or treatments
  • maintenance of cell lines
  • completion of projects involving animals where animal welfare will be compromised through the interruption
  • where disruption will severely compromise long time-frame projects already in progress.

Health, travel & administration

All HDR students have access to 10 sick leave days per year. You can use this for personal illness or if you are caring for others.

For VU Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship holders, you also have access to up to three months sick leave for medical conditions. In this case, the time taken on sick leave is added to your submission date and you continue to receive your stipend.

For non-scholarship holders or sponsored students, there is the option to take a leave of absence.

The Australian Government is working on some interim changes to the rules around the research training program. As soon as we have this information, we will review our policies and procedures to reflect those changes.

Scholarship recipients can, in exceptional circumstances, enrol in their higher degree by research on a part-time basis.

Scholarship stipends for part-time students are taxable, however, so you would need to work through the impact that a change in enrolment might have for you.

The Australian Government is working on some interim changes to the rules around the research training program. As soon as we have this information, we will review our policies and procedures to reflect those changes.

Email: [email protected]

If you would like to discuss a candidature or enrolment matter, please email [email protected]. We have HDR experts in the Office for Researcher Training, Quality & Integrity to assist you to make an informed decision about your enrolment. We know that you want to complete your degree and want to support you in achieving your goal.

Please include your name, student ID, contact number and a brief outline of your query. A team member will then contact you or if requested, organise a virtual meeting.

Your candidature budget may need to change to better reflect your project and its costs. The costs of travel, data collection costs/consumables etc. will likely be different to what you originally planned.

We encourage you to review your budget and consider how you can use your budget to support your research project and your professional development. Conference costs may, for example, be put towards publication costs or attendance in research professional development activities. You will need to get the support of your supervisor and approval by your research institute.