Covid-19 Information For PG Students In The UK
The coronavirus situation is a source of international concern to everyone, and that includes current and future postgraduate students. It is an unprecedented situation with continuously evolving policy changes by governments worldwide in terms of health advice, social restrictions, and of course education policy. In this article we have gathered together useful information for postgraduate students studying or planning to study in the UK – although much of it will also be relevant for postgraduate students choosing to study elsewhere in Europe or the rest of the world. As the situation changes for postgraduate students – both current and future – we will update this information to keep you as well informed as possible.
Are UK universities shutting due to coronavirus?
Some countries in Europe and across the world have closed their colleges and schools to try and combat the spread of coronavirus. UNESCO has an up-to-date map of school, college and university closures globally due to coronavirus. UK schools closed on Friday 20th March until further notice and most UK universities have either brought forward the Easter holidays in order to let the students return home or temporarily replaced on-campus lectures and classes with online teaching.
What does this mean for current postgraduate students?
Masters students are likely to be more affected by the universities’ temporary closure than PhD students, as they tend to rely more on face-to-face teaching methods. Universities are moving towards replacing classes with online learning and they are also putting systems in place to supervise the masters students’ dissertations remotely. Current PhD students should be able to continue with their projects as long as their supervision sessions are remote. PhD students are also advised to take into account that some of their initial planned fieldwork may have to be changed or adapted according to the new social distancing, self-isolation and stay-at-home policies.
What does this mean for postgraduate students planning to study in 2020/21?
It is currently assumed that the coronavirus outbreak will not prevent the start of the 2020-21 academic year in the UK, as it is thought that the pandemic will have peaked before autumn 2020. By this stage UK universities will also have had more time to take steps to reduce the impact of the disease on postgraduate studies. It is thought that universities could possibly make a move towards online learning for courses that are normally taught on campus for the first term, and this could work very well as many UK universities already excel in online/distance learning. Universities may also consider starting courses in January 2021 rather than in autumn 2020, but this decision does not need to be taken at this stage.
What about postgraduate open days?
Most UK universities have cancelled or are cancelling their upcoming postgraduate open days until the pandemic crisis gets under control. Double check with your chosen university before heading to any pre-booked open days as they have almost certainly been cancelled, postponed or replaced with a virtual event.
What about postgraduate applications?
Even though many of the universities have temporarily closed, applications are still being accepted for postgraduate programs as they can be processed online. Interviews will probably be postponed or could be carried out virtually.
What about student visas?
If you are an international student planning to study in the UK, the UK Government has confirmed that any international student who is self-isolating due to the coronavirus will not have their visa withdrawn – see the Home Office website for more details. If you are a UK resident planning on studying a postgraduate program overseas next academic year and need a visa, you may well find that the country you are planning to undertake your studies in has temporarily closed its borders and/or imposed new restrictions in an attempt to fight the spread of coronavirus. These restrictions should not effect your student visa application for the academic year 2020/21.
Where can you get more information on Covid-19?
Here are some offical sources to get up-to-date information on the UK policies concerning Covid-19.