Student and Staff Wellbeing

Covid-19 Update - 7 May - Research students

Covid-19 Update Message to research students - 7 May 2020

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

Dear Students,

I am writing with more information on extensions, Viva Guidance, as well as updates on Careers and IT support and resources, and to give you advance notice of the launch of Canvas - the University’s new online learning platform that will replace Blackboard this summer.

I am also writing to remind you of the availability of the University’s hardship fund and I include a number of updates on behalf of our colleagues at NUSU. Finally, there is updated guidance from the City Council for students in the private rented sector and the latest information from the Home Office for students who require replacement visas.

Before we start, we are very aware that anticipation is building around the idea that the government will shortly be announcing its plan for the country to start the process of coming out of lockdown.  We wanted firstly to reassure you that we too have started considering and planning for what life on campus might be like as the restrictions begin to lift, but we are also conscious of the Chief Medical Officer’s stark warning that physical distancing is likely to last until at least the end of the calendar year and that we face further periods of lockdown along the way – so this too must factor in our planning.  We also felt it important to set expectations that, whatever the Government plan is, we cannot expect our return to campus to be quick – unlike our exit – and nor will it be a case of us all returning together.  In the interim, whatever the announcement, you will need to continue your research remotely until you hear otherwise from your supervisor.  We are planning for a campus where we can all feel safe, that includes physical distancing and that follows government advice.

Extensions to Thesis Submission Deadlines

To help students who have upcoming thesis submission deadlines, we have extended the dates during which students are eligible to apply for up to 3 months of fee free extended submission.

Previously, any student with a submission deadline of between 23rd March 2020 and 30th June 2020 could apply for a fee free extension of up to 3 months. This has now been extended to students with a submission deadline up to the 30th September 2020.

If you are in this situation, you do not need to take any action at present, your Graduate School is collating details of the relevant students and will be contacting you (normally using your University email address, unless you have already provided us with additional, alternative contact details).

We will review this ‘30th September 2020’ date on the 31st July 2020 as part of a rolling programme of review and provide an update during the week commencing 3rd August 2020.

UKRI Funded Students

In accordance with the UKRI guidance issued on the 24th April 2020, if you were/will be in receipt of a UKRI funded studentship between the 1st March 2020 and 31st March 2021, you may be eligible for an extension of up to 6 months of funding,. Colleagues responsible for UKRI studentships in all 3 Faculties will be in contact with relevant students shortly to confirm the process for requesting this funding extension.

We are also exploring what other funders are offering to support their students through the disruption from Covid-19.

Viva Guidance

As we have now moved to remote Vivas, in addition to updating the Handbook for Examiners of Research Degrees by Thesis, we are also producing some Viva ‘Top Tips’ for students, supervisors and Examiners which we hope you will find useful.  Your Graduate Schools will provide you with this information if you have an upcoming Viva.

Online careers and business start-up support

We understand that some of you may be concerned about your career plans at this unsettling time, but please remember that our award-winning Careers Service is here to support you.  You can access support with your career-related questions, as well as receive help with CVs, covering letters and application forms.

The START UP team are providing bespoke, confidential coaching for students and graduates with an early-stage business or freelance career. You can access this support by logging-on to MyCareer and submitting your query via 'Resources' and the team will get back to you.  They can also be contacted by email at

Careers events

There are a number of webinars taking place over the next semester, covering topics such as how to ace a video interview and what to do when you don’t know what to do. Keep an eye on the events website for up to date information.

Online Careers resources

The Careers Service are continuing to receive new graduate, internship and work experience vacancies from employers and these can be accessed via MyCareer.  Information and advice on applications is also available, including example CV and covering letters and online masterclasses. If you have an interview coming up, you can use the video interview platforms to practise your interview and record yourself answering typical interview questions.

If you would rather work for yourself, there are online resources available to help you develop your ideas, research your market, start a freelance career and run a successful business. You can also register for the next START UP 101 webinar and virtual START UP Connect networking event.

And if you want to develop valuable employability skills, practical work experience, or are looking to try something new, why not consider volunteering? You’ll find a range of opportunities here, including virtual volunteering.

Keep up to date

The Careers Service have recently launched a blog which will keep you up to date with industry news and events that are taking place virtually during this time and you can follow the service on social media @nclcareers.

Access cluster PC software and your University files 

To help support your learning while you are away from campus, we have launched an online service which gives access to popular cluster PC software and your University files. 

The student Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) has most of the software that is available on a standard University cluster PC.  You can log in to it from a PC, laptop or tablet that is connected to the internet via 

Once you have tried it, we would welcome your feedback and you can submit comments or suggestions via the online feedback form

IT Support

University IT support is available 24/7, and can be access via +44 (0)191 208 5999 at any time, or by email on (monitored 08:00-17:00 BST, Monday to Friday).

You can access the full suite of Microsoft Office applications at - simply log in and click on the ‘app launcher’ in the top left corner.  If you require IT help or advice, contact the IT Service Desk.

Launch of Canvas – the new learning platform

As many of you know, on Friday 31 July this year, Blackboard is being replaced by Canvas, an exciting and intuitive new learning platform.

The move to Canvas will bring a number of benefits to students, most notably ease of use, and it will be the place to go for online learning materials from 31 July 2020 onwards.

To support you with this transition, we are giving you early access to Canvas. You can login using your usual University credentials ( and you will have access to a ‘Getting to Know Canvas’ course. This will take you through the key areas of Canvas and includes screencasts of the Canvas interface and how to submit an assignment.

In addition, you can contact the 24/7 Canvas help via live chat or email and access a vast library of video and step by step student guides.  All of these are accessed from the Help menu within Canvas.

From 31 July, students and staff will no longer be able to access Blackboard. Learning materials from the 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20 academic years are being copied from Blackboard into Canvas and you will be given access to this content for reference. This will be available to you from 22 June 2020.

Further information, updates and answers to FAQs can be found on the Canvas website.

Support for Students Experiencing Financial Difficulties

Once again, I’d like to remind you that if you are experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the current disruption, you may eligible for support from the University’s Hardship Fund.  Further information can be found on the Student Financial Support website.

NUSU mental health campaign

NUSU is running a mental health campaign - Permission to Pause - to support students which launched on 4th May.  The campaign is designed to help students take a break and practice self-care. Because of Covid-19, NUSU is running this campaign digitally via their Facebook page. For further information please contact Sara Elkhawad, Welfare and Equality Officer, NUSU at

NUSU Co-op offer

For those of you still in Newcastle, the NUSU Co-op are offering all students and recent graduates of 2020 who are working for the NHS during the pandemic a free meal deal from the Co-op, to say thank you for the work you are doing on the frontline. Just show your student card and NHS verification (i.e. ID or email) at the till to be eligible. Further information is available on the NUSU website.

All students still in Newcastle may also like to note that the Co-op on campus is up and running with deliveries having now signed up with Deliveroo.  If you are self-isolating and / or in need of a groceries delivery, you can get a contact-free delivery via the Deliveroo website or app. 

Guidance from Newcastle City Council for students in the private rented sector


Newcastle City Council have updated their advice for students on how they should work with their landlords.  The Council’s private rented service has a specific website for student tenants and can be contact by telephone on 0191 277 1438.

A list of useful FAQs on housing prepared by the Student Advice Centre is also available on the NUSU website.

And finally, latest guidance from the Home Office

The Home Office has updated its guidance for individuals affected by travel restrictions associated with Covid-19.  The most recent changes set out the arrangements for individuals who need to request a replacement visa if their 30-day visa to travel to the UK for work, study or to join family has expired, or is about to expire.  These changes are now live and full details can be found on the website.



With thanks and best wishes,


Lucy Backhurst
Academic Registrar