Student and Staff Wellbeing

Covid-19 Update - 23 April PGR Students

Covid-19 Update Message to PGR students - 23 April 2020

Lucy Backhurst, Academic Registrar, shares the latest updates with research students.

Dear Doctoral and MPhil students,

I am writing with this week’s update for research programme students. It includes information on: 

  • new guidance from the Home Office on student visas and a letter to international students from Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan MP
  • our response to course fee queries 
  • how to access help from us if you’re unwell with Coronavirus
  • Covid-19 survey.

New Guidance from the Home Office

In response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has updated its guidance for visa holders affected by the current situation. The full guidance can be found on the website  but we have summarised the information which we believe is most relevant to students holding Tier 4 and Short Term Study visas. 

The summarised information, which covers the following areas, can be found on the Travel and Visa section of the Covid-19 webpages:

  • Academic progression
  • Police Registration
  • Academic Technology Scheme (ATAS)
  • Short Term Study
  • Current visa and citizenship applications.

A Covid-19 fact sheet prepared by UKVI for visa holders and short-term residents in the UK is also available on the Covid-19 webpages.

Universities Minister’s Letter to International Students

Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan MP, has written to international students at higher education providers in England. The letter sets out key messages from the Minister to international students at this challenging time, and provides an overview of the latest guidance and links to a set of resources for students.  We very much support the sentiment in the letter, and hope it makes our international students feel welcome and appreciated in the current challenging environment.

Course Fee Queries

We have prepared a detailed FAQ on course fee queries which has been added to Tuition Fees section of the Covid-19 FAQs. Our response is guided by statements recently issued by the Universities Minister and Universities UK both of which state that students should not expect a fee refund from their university where there is wide-ranging support for active and ongoing learning and progression. 

Reporting Cases of Covid-19

We have received a number of questions from students asking whether they need to tell us if they are unwell with diagnosed or suspected Covid-19. We don’t need this information from you, but we do want to support you. If you are or become unwell, please let us know by completing this form so that we can ensure you have as much support as you need from us.

You can also access support via the NUSU-led Covid-19 Community Facebook page.

Covid-19 Survey

Vitae, who specialise in supporting the professional development of researchers, has launched a survey in conjunction with the UKRI-funded Student Mental Health Research Network (SMaRteN), to conduct research into the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on the working lives of doctoral researchers and research staff. 

The findings of this survey will be used to inform current and future planning for supporting students through these kinds of crises.

If you would like to participate and input into this survey, further information is available here and the deadline for response is Friday 1 May.

More information

As always, we are updating our Frequently Asked Questions as things change, so please keep visiting the site. 


With best wishes,

Lucy Backhurst

Academic Registrar