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COVID-19 Information and FAQs for HDR Candidates

UC's response to the COVID-19 pandemic is one that allows flexibility for our HDR candidates, ensuring that each person can have adjustments made in line with their personal circumstances, and where they are in their candidature.

UC as a virtual campus

UC is operating as a virtual campus until Saturday 30 May 2020.  This means continuing your research and other activities associated with your candidature from home.

Can I go onto the UC campus?

Yes, although the physical campus is closed for most activities.  A number of essential services are still open; refer to ‘University Services’ on the UC COVID-19 Support site.

Managing and adapting your research plan during this time

Your relationship with your supervisor is core to your candidature, and is more important now than ever.  Please discuss with them how to minimise the impact on your research, and develop contingency plans to help you continue progressing toward your goals.

Here are some things to think about and discuss with your supervisor.


  • Frequency and method of updates to supervisor on progress and activities
  • Agree on expectations around supervisor feedback (e.g. email responses on drafts provided within a week)

Working from home set-up and data management

  • Is your home workstation safe and appropriate?
  • Can you access everything you need?
  • Is your data management plan up to date?
  • Is your data appropriately secure and backed up?

Your revised research plans

  • In conversation with your supervisors, consider adapting your research study plan and document any changes.  A plan template can be found on the student forms page.
  • Discuss changes to your plan, and how you can reprioritise tasks and timelines to fit the current restrictions.
  • Is it necessary and/or feasible to revise your approach, method or technology to progress your research?
  • Do you need to submit an updated ethics application?

In discussion with your supervisor, you may identify the need to change your enrolment status, or apply for a period of leave.  Applications for conversion to part-time enrolment, leave and extensions are recommended if you are unable to continue full-time study.  Refer to the COVID-19 Guidelines for HDR Candidates document to see the different leave types you are eligible to apply for, and the impacts on any scholarship you receive.  Leave, extension and other forms can be found on the Research Forms page.

If you have applied for part-time enrolment or leave, your milestones will be adjusted accordingly.  Milestones are not adjusted when an extension is granted.  You can view your milestone dates on the RGrad system, via MyUC.

I cannot access my lab, workspace, data, or undertake fieldwork to continue my research.  What can I do?

While the University is operating as a virtual campus, labs are also generally closed.  There are a small number of exceptions to this, so please ask your Faculty HDR Convener or Associate Dean (Research) for details.  In a few cases, and depending on the nature of your research and the nature and scale of the impact, it may be necessary to work with your supervisor to change your research design, or even to reformulate your research project.

Please work with your supervisor to find other work that you can productively continue, and  restructure your research plan accordingly. This could include developing your research skills through UC ReD training sessions (or elsewhere), working on your literature review, progressing your dissertation, or producing draft manuscripts for journal or conference presentations.

Who else can I speak to for support during this time?

In addition to your supervisory panel, you can also contact your Faculty HDR Convener.  Click here for a list of the Faculty HDR contacts.

How can I document the impact that COVID-19 is having on my research?

Ensure COVID-19 impact is on the agenda for every meeting with your supervisors.  Please raise any specific details of delays or obstacles you are facing as a consequence of COVID-19, and ensure these are recorded in the notes of the meeting.  These conversation notes may become supporting documentation if you seek an extension of your candidature in future.

Staying full time at this point will not impede any application you make for extension in future.  Leave, extension and other forms can be found on the Research Forms page.

Can I return to my home country?

Discuss this, and also any leave you may need to take, with your supervisor as the first step.  If returning to your home country will mean there are changes to your enrolment and expected course completion date that may affect your visa, please speak to the International Student Support Service (ISSS) at

Contact your embassy or consulate in Australia to ask about transport arrangements to return to your home country.

I was due to attend a conference soon. Will this be cancelled?

Check directly with the conference organiser for confirmation, and also check the Government website for the current status of international and domestic travel bans.

Contacting the Graduate Research Office

The Graduate Research Team has moved online. Here’s how to contact us.

  • Virtual Graduate Research Office Drop-ins for candidates and supervisors.  See the times and join us via the UCReD calendar.
  • HDR Support Team for all your HDR candidature enquiries.
  • ReD Program Team with any enquiries about ECARD, ASPIRE, Research Methods support, Big UC Research Pitch (formerly known as Pitch for Funds), 3MT etc.
  • Graduate Research for all other enquiries.

During this period of transition to online services, there will be a delay as we work through enquiries. So that we can help you as quickly as possible, please include in the email your name, student ID number and the HDR course in which you are enrolled.

I have a milestone coming up.  Do I need to postpone it?

Unless you are on leave or intermission, you are expected to complete your milestones, including introductory, confirmation, work in progress and pre-submission presentations. Please discuss with your supervisor your research plan and activities for the coming months. If you will continue your candidature, your milestones will also continue on schedule.

Milestones will be done through virtual mode, organised by your faculty, and your supervisor will support you in this process.

How do I submit forms now?

Please continue to email HDR forms

Can I still submit my thesis for examination?

Yes.  When you give us your HDR Intention to Submit Thesis form, the HDR Support team will respond, providing you with a link and instructions about how to submit electronically.  We do not require hard copy theses, and will not be mailing hardcopy materials to examiners.

My thesis is being examined.  Will this be delayed?

No.  Your thesis is submitted and sent to examiners electronically. At this stage, examination is progressing as normal.

Can I still access Researcher Development (UC ReD) Program workshops?

Yes. The UC ReD program is running in virtual mode, with many of our workshops, seminars and events now delivered via Zoom (or other means). We encourage you to participate both to gain the new skills and knowledge, and to stay connected with the research community.  To see what’s available, please visit the calendar of researcher development activities.

If you are going on leave, we welcome and encourage you to continue participating in the UCReD researcher development activities.

Leave Types and Scholarships

Refer to the COVID-19 Guidelines for HDR Candidates document to see the different leave types you are eligible to apply for and the impacts on any scholarship you may receive.

Will I continue to have access to UC facilities if I take leave? I.e. UC Library access, email access, statistics licenses, VPN access to data folders, etc.?

If you are on sick leave, or compelling and compassionate leave, you are still considered to be enrolled and will continue to have access to UC facilities.

If you are on intermission, then your candidature ceases for this period, which means you won’t have access to any UC facilities as you are not considered to be studying.

For more information on the options available to you, please see COVID-19 Guidelines for HDR Candidates.

Getting Help

You may need financial, legal, visa, food, accommodation or medical and mental health assistance.  Please see the support services on the UC COVID-19 Support site.

I am struggling to cope mentally during the COVID-19 pandemic. What services are available to support me through this challenging time?

Free, personal crisis support is available 24/7 through Lifeline on 13 11 14.

The UC Medical and Counselling Centre remains open, and provides e-health consultations via online video and telephone throughout the COVID-19 crisis. All doctors and counsellors are available for video or telehealth appointments. You can make bookings here.

The Australian Government recommends ways to maintain good mental health during COVID-19 on their Head the Health website.

I now have carer responsibilities - school-aged children, elderly parents.  What should I do?

The approach you decide upon will depend on your individual circumstances and where you are in your candidature. Please discuss this initially with your supervisor, with a view to revise your research plan so that it suits your current situation.

You might consider changing to part-time enrolment if you can continue your research at reduced hours, or if you are unable to commit any time to your research while you have carer responsibilities, consider taking leave (compelling) or intermission.  Please see the COVID-19 Guidelines for HDR Candidates for more information about these options.

Getting set up to work from home

The Queensland Government's Health and Wellbeing site has a good article to help you establish yourself for working from home ergonomically.

How do I set myself up to work from home?  Can I take University equipment home?

You will need to seek approval from your Faculty if you need to take University equipment home to continue your research remotely.  This could include monitors, desktop computers, desk chairs, etc.  Your supervisor will be able to advise you on who your faculty contact is.

Can I access the UC Library?

NOTE: The Library will be temporarily closed for urgent electrical repairs, reopening Monday 11 May 2020.  For more information about alternative study space to use in this period, see the Library website. Please ensure you carry your student card to access the building.

Starting Monday 11 May 2020, Level B of the University Library will be open 24/7 to enrolled HDR candidates by swipe card access.

Level B of the Library provides Wi-Fi, printing and photocopying.  If you log in via your student ID, you can use the Multi-Function Devices (MFD) toward the back of the Library to print and scan.

There will be no staff or books available. Many of the UC Library resources are available as e-books or online journals. If you need a particular book, please request it through the Document Services area ( and approach your supervisors for assistance in accessing other reading resources you need.

Looking after your health

What do I do if I'm unwell or have flu or cold symptoms?

If you are unwell and have flu or cold symptoms, you should consult with your doctor.

If you have been in contact with someone who has contracted COVID-19, consult with your GP or call the Coronavirus Health information line on 1800 020 080 for advice regarding self-isolation.

What do I do if I am being tested for COVID-19?

If you have been tested for COVID-19 Coronavirus, you must self-isolate until you receive your results.  Follow the ACT Health recommended guidelines for those who've been tested for COVID-19.

Please also notify Student Welfare, and complete a University Incident Report in the official UC Incident Reporting Tool (Incident category: Personal Incident (No Injury); Incident type: Contact or exposure to biological factors)

If you test positive:

Please contact the University’s dedicated COVID-19 Support Line on 0409 507 734.  This contact number is monitored 24/7 by the Medical and Counselling Team.

If you are a patient of UC’s Medical and Counselling Centre, you will not need to contact the COVID-19 Support Line listed above.

What do I do if I need to self-isolate?

If you are self-isolating, you should follow the recommended Australia Government Health Guidelines. f you are well, you may continue to progress your research working remotely.

If you are unwell (as a result of COVID-19 or otherwise), you are eligible to take up to 10 days sick leave each calendar year without effect on the length of your candidature.  Please note that sick leave extends to responsibilities such as caring for a sick child, spouse or parent, and includes mental health and wellbeing impacts.

For periods of sick leave of more than 10 continuous days, you must apply formally for leave, using the Application for Leave from Candidature form on the HDR Research Forms website.

Candidates in receipt of a stipend scholarship must apply formally for sick leave (even for less than 10 days).  For more information on the options available to you, please see COVID-19 Guidelines for HDR Candidates.

Future Students

I have an offer to start my candidature for Semester 2, 2020 but I can’t physically travel to Canberra. Can I commence my study remotely?

Due to the travel restrictions, we will defer any offers made to international candidates for Semester 2, 2020, if they are not already in Australia .  The University will  contact you with a revised offer to commence in Semester 1, 2021.

For domestic candidates, and international candidates who are already in Australia, offers made for Semester 2, 2020 will be considered on a case-by-case basis, pending advice from your Faculty.  You should discuss with your proposed supervisor whether you can commence your program/research remotely.  If this is not possible due to the nature of the research, you can defer commencement to Semester 1, 2021.

Is the University of Canberra still accepting applications for HDR courses in 2020?


If you are an international applicant, your application will be assessed but you will not be able to commence before Semester 1, 2021, due to travel restrictions.

For domestic candidates, applications for Semester 2, 2020 will be considered on a case-by-case basis, pending advice from your Faculty.  Discuss with your proposed supervisor whether you can commence your program/research remotely.  If this is not possible due to the nature of the research, you can apply to commence in Semester 1, 2021.