Student and Staff Wellbeing

Covid-19 Update - 5 June 2020 - Doctoral & MPhil

Covid-19 Update - 5 June 2020 - Doctoral and MPhil Students

Lucy Backhurst, Academic Registrar, shares the latest updates.

Dear Doctoral and MPhil students,

I hope you are well.

In this week’s update I provide you with information on our plans for returning to campus including how you will be able to access some library services, when government guidelines allow.  I also highlight a survey that NUSU are conducting on the move to the remote delivery which I’d be grateful if you could complete.  You can find further details and a link to the survey below. 

Finally, I include an important reminder of mental health support services that are available to postgraduate students, the latest update from the Home Office (UKVI) for international students, and details of some forthcoming NUSU events for you to look forward to.

Plans for returning to campus

As you will know the government has started the process of bringing the country out of lockdown and we know that you will be keen to be kept up to date on plans to re-open campus and what this means for the University and your study arrangements.

We are considering how life on campus might work in the months to come and are already working hard to look at the practical, physical and wellbeing implications of our transition back to campus. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion are being considered alongside all these requirements. 

Please be assured that whatever the Government plan is we cannot expect our return to campus to be quick, nor will it be a case of everyone returning together.  We are planning for a campus where we can all feel safe, that includes physical distancing and that follows health and safety advice.  To get this right will necessarily be a gradual process. 

Any return to campus will be phased, starting with the identification of priority buildings for re-opening.  Entry into these buildings again will be phased, starting with service staff to make the building ready for use, followed then by access for researchers and research students (Doctoral and MPhil) on a priority basis.  Access priorities will be evaluated on a case by case basis, however, we wanted to reassure you that Doctoral and MPhil students are an important consideration when determining these. 

We will update you when further information is available, but it is likely that your supervisor will be a crucial source of information for you about any return to campus. 

Access to library services 

We appreciate the importance of library resources and services to the furtherance of your studies.  Whilst the closure of the physical libraries has inevitably restricted access to print material, we hope that you are able to maximise your use of our extensive e-resources. There are over half a million e-books and 50,000 journals already available with more being added all the time.  If you would like to recommend new books or other resources in your area of interest we will do our best to acquire them for you, but for the moment, we are only sourcing electronic versions rather than print.  

Our general library help service is available 24/7 and you can book one to one appointments with a Liaison Librarian  for a customised online chat about your information needs.  We are working with colleagues in the University’s Estates Service on plans to open up the Philip Robinson Library as the first of our buildings to provide a click and collect service for print stock. We hope to be able to do this by early July.  

Considerable adjustments are needed to the building to ensure that we comply with Covid-19 safety guidelines and we ask for your patience and understanding whilst we get this right - the safety of staff and students is of paramount concern to us.  We will update you on progress as soon as we can.

More information on all library resources and service can be found on the University Library webpages.  

Student survey 

You will have recently received an email asking you to participate in a University survey. This survey is being run by a team representing Newcastle University Students’ Union (NUSU), the University’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) team and Inclusive Newcastle. The survey will help us to understand the impact of the University’s move to remote delivery and to enhance your online learning experience.  We would very much value your participation in this survey which should take no more than 10 minutes to complete.

Mental health support for postgraduate students 

During these unprecedented times you may find that you need extra support.  If so, please make use of our Free 24/7 Post Graduate Support Service.  

The support services are for all postgraduate students (PGR and PGT) and include: 

  • Free 24/7 Telephone support 0800 030 5182 
  • Free online health portal 
  • Free medical information 
  • Free Legal advice   
  • Free Health Hub 
  • Free Health E App

The Free Health E App is available on both iOS and Android and is the UK’s largest free library of wellbeing resources.  These include videos, guides, and webinars which can be accessed whenever needed, anywhere in the world.

To access all the services 24/7, call: 0800 030 5182 or log into the Postgraduate Assistance Programme with the following credentials:

User Name: Newcastle  

Password: University

Remember you can still receive Financial, Faith, Disability Support and face-to-face Counselling through the University's Wellbeing Teams. 

Home Office (UKVI) guidance 

In response to the current Coronavirus pandemic, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has updated its guidance on alternative arrangements for those who require immigration permission to remain in the UK.  The guidance, which you should read in full, is available on the Gov.UK website.

The key update relates to visas with expiry dates that fall between 24th January and 31st July 2020.

If your visa expires between these dates and you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to COVID-19, your visa will be extended to 31st July 2020.

Please note that you must request an extension by updating your records with the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) using their online form.

UKVI will let you know when your request is received, and when your visa has been extended.  If you have previously had your visa extended to the 31st May 2020, your visa will be extended automatically to the 31st July 2020. You do not need to complete the online form.

If you are still a registered student at Newcastle University, please let us know that your visa has been extended by sending your confirmation to compliance@ncl.ac.uk. 

NUSU events

Your sabbatical officers at NUSU have asked us to let you know about the following forthcoming events:

  • Boom Toon is an online virtual festival brought to you by your Sabbs this weekend – 5th-7th June. There's a whole host of things to get involved in, workshops, crafts classes, speeches from keynote speakers, musicians, cooking tutorials, live performances and student artists await. Find more information at: @NUSUBoomToon on Facebook. 
  • Katie Smyth, your NUSU President, is also running an extremely important campaign on everyday sexism.  Tune into some podcasts from some of the University’s very own and other amazing women in leadership here and keep an eye out for more this week.

Best wishes, 

Lucy 

Lucy Backhurst
Academic Registrar