Essential information for the new academic year

THIS PAGE WAS LAST UPDATED 21/06/2020

We are getting ready to welcome you to what will be a great new academic year in 2020/21. Our dedicated lecturers, support staff and Students' Association are working hard to give you the best possible University experience.

We will be doing everything we can to make sure you enjoy learning through our blended approach of online and face-to-face teaching and to give you as many opportunities to create new friendships and experience everything the GCU London community has to offer you!

The health, safety and wellbeing of our students and staff will continue to be our highest priority as rules around social distancing are eased. Frequently asked questions are linked below and are updated as and when necessary, but if you have further questions or issues you would like to raise, please contact our Student Helpline by email on coronavirushelpline@gcu.ac.uk or by phone on +44 141 331 3130. We are open Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm.

GCU London coronavirus information for students (2019/21)

The University takes the health and safety of its staff and students very seriously and we continure to carefully monitor the situation and government guidance relating to the coronavirus.

The frequently asked questions for students listed below were provided following lockdown and our transition to remote learning and home working. They will continue to be updated as and when necessary. If students have further questions or issues they would like to raise, please contact the Student Helpline by email on coronavirushelpline@gcu.ac.uk or by phone on +44 141 331 3130. The Helpline is operational Money - Friday, 9am - 5pm.

Student FAQs Fees and Financial Support

Can I claim any tuition fees back because of the impact of Covid-19?

No, the University will not be offering compensation for tuition fees due to the outbreak of Coronavirus (Covid-19). Module delivery will restart online from March 23, 2020.

Will I be required to pay any additional fees for any catch-up period I will be required to undertake to complete my current modules?

No, additional fees will not be charged for any catch-up teaching, including placements, which you will be required to complete before the start of the session 20/21

I am an international student and I am having problems paying my fee instalments, what should I do?

Please email arstudent@gcu.ac.uk, explaining your current situation.

My income has been stopped or reduced as a result of coronavirus and I am having difficulty paying my bills and rent. Is there any financial support available to me?

There are several routes for students to explore.

Our Student Funding webpages detail a number of ways to reduce your bills and how to budget. However, if you are still struggling financially, there are funds that you can apply for at this time to support you, including:

SAAS are currently developing a number of enhanced support measures with the Scottish Government for students, in recognition of the immense period of uncertainty across the sector. We will publish information on these measures on our Coronavirus webpages as soon as it becomes available.

Will there be any changes to SAAS fee payments, Student Loans or Disabled Students Allowance as a result of the current situation?

SAAS have created a list of Questions and Answers relating to higher education funding in Scotland. The list includes help with payments, funding, placements, study abroad and the DSA. English, Welsh, Northern Ireland, EU or International students should contact their “home” funding bodies in the first instance to discuss any questions.

I live in private rented accommodation and, in order to issue a refund, my private provider/landlord requires proof from the University that I no longer need to be in London for my studies. Where can I get this?

You should contact the coronavirushelpline@gcu.ac.uk to request a letter from the University.

I have received childcare funding from the University for Tri B, do I have to pay this back?

We are liaising with SAAS on this matter and we will update you when we have further information.

Who do I contact if I have another funding query?

Please email coronavirushelpline@gcu.ac.uk with any additional questions.

Frequently asked questions - Students

What is open on campus at present?

In light of the Prime Minister's announcement on 23 March 2020, the GCU London campus will be closed as of 24 March 2020 until further notice.

Only essential staff will be allowed on campus. Thank you for your understanding.

I'm an international student, can I leave to travel home?

Yes, if it is safe to do so and the home country is accessible.

For students who are already at home overseas, you should not return to London for the time being. Further advice will be provided in due course.

What should I do if I'm concerned about myself or a fellow student?

If you show any symptoms, the UK Government has advised that you should self-isolate for at least seven days.

If symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after seven days then you are advised to use the NHS 111 online service or call 111 if you cannot get help online.

For all student coronavirus concerns, you can also use our dedicated helpline on +44 141 331 3130. The helpline is available from 9am-5pm, 7 days a week.

If you are concerned about a fellow student, please make them aware of this advice if practical to do so.

I'm struggling financially. What support is available?

We realise that some of our students will have financial worries during this time and SAAS is keen to work with Universities to alleviate some of the concerns students may have as this situation continues to unfold.

The new Scottish Government Student Information Scotland website will be used as the main conduit, to provide up to date information to students across both Further and Higher Education (FE & HE).

You can also contact our Funding Team at funding@gcu.ac.uk for further advice and support.

Will examinations, assessments and graduations be impacted?

There will be alternative assessment arrangements for Masters level assessments which will take into account the guidance being provided by professional bodies where appropriate. The details of any alternative assessment will be communicated through Blackboard and associated submission dates will be advised at the same time.

For research, VIAs arrangements will be made for these either to be postponed or, where appropriate, to be completed using an appropriate online method (Skype/Zoom etc).

Students should be reassured that the University is taking a supportive stance on profession, with flexible application of the regulations in these exceptional circumstances as approved by Senate.

We recognise and understand that for a variety of reasons, students may find it difficult to maintain their study online, e.g. difficulty with IT access; illness; caring responsibilities etc. We want to reassure all students that we will do everything we can to support you and, where it is not possible for you to engage we will be understanding and seek to offer a catch up phase as and when you resume your studies.

For more detailed information relating to exams and assessments, please review our Online Learning FAQs for Students.

What should I say to students who are worried about visa implications?

Any student who is worried about visa implications of the coronavirus should contact the University's Visa office. The Home Office understands that in many cases these implications are because of circumstances outside of your control and arrangements are being made to support people. As the situation evolves, the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) team will be best placed to offer you the most up-to-date advice.

Frequently asked questions for postgraduate and research students

Attendance, remote working and access to laboratories

Q. What do I do about attending work?

A. In line with the UK government’s advice, we are advising that anyone who can work from home, who is already equipped with the right technology and enabled with the necessary capabilities to practically deliver in a new way, should now do so. If you believe you can do this, you should agree with your line manager that this is the case.

Q. What about remote working?

A. This can involve Skype, WebEx, Zoom or MS Teams. For example, MS Teams is good for large groups, whilst, at the moment, Zoom is free for groups of six and meetings of up to 45 minutes’ duration. The IT Helpdesk can be contacted ithelp@gcu.ac.uk. All of the usual standards in terms of data security apply to home working, so make sure you are up to date on the online training and guides to handling special category/ sensitive data. Wherever possible, sensitive data should be kept securely on campus. Where that is impossible, discuss with your Principle Investigator/Supervisor.

If possible, electronic data should be stored on University network drives so that it is held securely in the University’s IT infrastructure. This means that access is controlled and the data is available to appropriate staff/researchers. In cases where it is agreed that sensitive data can be removed from campus, staff have access to encrypted laptops/USBs which could hold electronic copies of the records that are scanned to secure files and shared. If physical records must be removed, then these should be redacted to remove any personal data. As well as obtaining copies of the data, a record should be kept of any personal data leaving campus ie when it was removed, who has it and where it will be located when off-site.

Some basic guidance to researchers on the best practice to protect personal data when offsite, includes:

  • Keep the information and personal data securely stored away in your home when not using it
  • Do not disclose personal data or allow others in your household to access the personal data
  • Where possible, limit the amount you transport or travel with the data – keep it at home, don’t risk leaving it in your car, a café or public transport.
  • If you lose the data or have reason to think it has been stolen, contact dataprotection@gcu.ac.uk immediately
  • Personal data should be disposed of securely. Documents must be shredded or disposed of via secure document disposal (which may mean returning them to GCU for disposal). Do not throw them straight in your household bin

Q. What about access to laboratories?

A. For staff and PhD students, access for this week will be facilitated as per usual, but beyond March 20, it is important to plan for remote working with your supervisor or line manager. Where this creates an issue of risk and/or resource (eg extra costs), you should discuss this with your Postgraduate Research Tutor/Associate Dean Research and, if necessary, escalate this to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research. The first course of action should be to attempt to reorganise the project so that lab requirements can be factored in at a later date without any adverse effect on project timelines

Data collection, supervision, impact on VISAs, RDC2, and research project applications

Q. What about research involving data collection from human participants (eg via interviews) and in specialist laboratories?

A. For research involving human participants:

Unless clinically essential for treatment purposes, all (staff, PhD, MSc) current and planned data collection involving direct face-to-face contact between researcher and participant should be suspended and re-organised when the coronavirus outbreak is over. Where relevant, NHS Research guidance should also be followed. Your Associate Dean Research should be notified if you consider suspension is not possible at this point.

  • Do not enter into participants’ homes. Older participants and those with health conditions might be voluntarily self-isolating. You might still phone them to check on them and to explain. Some data collection might be done remotely – so, again, talk to your research team. Principal Investigators (PIs)s and Directors of Studies (DoSs) should consider whether such alternative approaches to data collection, eg telephone/Skype interviews are feasible.
  • PIs should notify funding bodies of any changes in circumstances and copy in your Associate Dean Research and Mark Anderson, Director of the Research and Innovation Office. For health projects based in the School of Health and Life Sciences (SHLS), the Centre for Living and elsewhere, please copy in Lyndsay McDade, Senior Clinical Research Governance Manager. Lyndsay will offer support and advice regarding any required NHS approval amendments. Any impact on fixed-term contract researchers should be discussed with the funding body and if necessary, People Services, with outcomes notified to your ADR and HoD.
  • DoSs and research students should discuss reorganising work activities to be productive during any suspensions of data collection or lab access, eg drafting chapters, but seek advice from ADRs/PGRTs in the event of potential inability to produce the thesis as originally planned.
  • Indeed, any issues with regard to risk or resource should be raised with the ADR and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

For research in specialist laboratories, we request that this research is ceased for the time being and that PIs/ DoSs decide and agree with ADRs how to safely ‘cease’ experiments/data collection in a way that minimises risk, waste, and maximises the utility of the existing work. As with lab access, any requests for ‘exceptional continuation’ should be put to the Associate Dean Research in the first instance.

Q. Is there any guidance on what to do about research on Covid 19 or if wider aspects of research are impacted by Covid 19?

A. Guidance on issues such as amendments to existing studies (e.g. because of exposure of or to patients) is available at the following sites:

Q. What about supervision of researchers?

A. It is important that, as a supervisor and line manager, you follow the University guidance issued to line managers.

Q. What about Vivas for PhDs?

A. We are compiling a list of Vivas that have been set up and we are arranging for remote administration of them according to these guidelines. The guidelines also cover what we will do for future Vivas if we move to complete remote working.

Q. What about RDC2 Examination?

A. You can now hold the RDC2 examination by videoconferencing. Guidelines on how to do this can be found here.

Q. What about research project applications

A. These will continue as usual, as we have, for the most part, now established an electronic system. We await any announcements from funders as to any changes in grant deadlines or anything else with regard to submissions. If in any doubt, you can contact the Research & Innovation Office at riegeneral@gcu.ac.uk or else the individual emails described here

REF, position on pay-for-research students, contacts for help and advice

Q. What about the REF?

A. Preparations for the REF continue, but, as with all areas of our work, have been impacted by Covid-19.

On March 24, it was announced that the REF submission date of November 27, 2020, would be postponed.

There are three main implications of the announcement, as follows:

 

  • Submission delayed: We will be informed eight months before the new submission date. So, for example, if we were informed in January 2021, the new submission date would be August 2021. Of course, REF could make the announcement before the now-previous submission date (November 27, 2020), meaning that it would not necessarily be delayed by eight months as such. For example, if, by some stroke of good fortune, things were easing by May 2020, and a new submission date was announced at that point, then it could be January 2021; so not amounting to much of a delay at all. The logic for eight months is likely that it is approximately eight months from the March 24 announcement to the previous submission date.
  • Census date remains the same: This is the date on which staff in all Higher Education Institutions, who will have outputs submitted to the REF, have to be in post. It is currently July 31, 2020. At the moment, it seems sensible not to alter this date given that, as illustrated above, the delay may not be that long in effect. However, it may change in the future.
  • Pressure still on: Due to the potential for the effective delay not being that long and the unchanged census date, our current timetable still applies, although this is being discussed by our Research Continuity Group and our REF Management Group.

 

Q. What is the position on pay-for-research students engaged through the casual process, if any scheduled work is cancelled for reasons relating to COVID-19?

A. Line managers should work with their casual workers to understand if or ensure that current work commitments can be fulfilled. It may be alternative ways of delivering the work can be agreed if necessary. However, it is important to reassure casual workers that they will receive payment for any work they may be unable to deliver that is disrupted or cancelled for reasons relating to Covid-19. This includes engagements where there is a reasonable expectation of work based on previous agreements or commitments being made. Line managers must ensure the normal casual worker paperwork is processed in line with normal arrangements. People Services will work together with school-based Professional Services staff and department process owners to ensure any casual paperwork is processed. If you have any concerns regarding this, please contact CasualHours@gcu.ac.uk

Q. Who can help with advice?

A. We are working on plans for the ongoing continuation of research studies, supervision and research within the new context of social distancing. You will see further updates as we develop resources and guidance for remote working in research.

For research students, in the first instance, you should keep in touch with your supervisors and raise any concerns you may have to them. If supervisors aren’t sure of the answer, please both raise your questions/concerns to your Postgraduate Research Tutor (PgRT) and then to your Senior PgRT and/or your Associate Dean of Research.

In addition, the Graduate School will continue to help facilitate answers and solutions to your questions at any point through the graduateschool@gcu.ac.uk mailbox.

A flow chart of who can help can be found on the Graduate School website or at https://edshare.gcu.ac.uk/id/ document/39339 A list of key contacts is available on the Graduate School website.

For staff researchers, please raise your questions/ concerns to your research group leaders and ADRs.

Coronavirus advice: Students with any questions, please contact the coronavirus helpline: +44 141 331 3130 (9am to 5pm, seven days per week) or you can email coronavirushelpline@gcu.ac.uk

Further information for staff and students is available via our dedicated web page. Wellbeing advice: Staff members with any questions or concerns can contact the staff well-being service at staffwellbeing@gcu.ac.uk.

Research students with any questions or concerns can contact the student well-being service at studentwellbeing@gcu.ac.uk.