Print this page

COVID-19 Information and FAQs for HDR Candidates

In line with the ACT Government lockdown advice, the University of Canberra's Bruce campus will be closed from 5pm Thursday, 12 August 2021.

As many states and cities are currently in lockdown, universities across Australia are working to support HDR candidates and ensure that they can maintain progress in their studies. 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.

Following the recommendations of the Australian Council of Graduate Studies, our advice is that unless you are ill, or are having to deal with significant carer responsibilities, you remain enrolled and progressing your candidature. While you may not be able to conduct field work, you can use this time to complete skills training through the ReD program or elsewhere; work on your literature review; begin writing up your project; or produce draft manuscripts for journal or conference presentations.

You may consider changing aspects of your research design: for example, moving from face-to-face interviews to online mode. You may also want to change from full time to part time enrolment. Please discuss your options with your supervisor, and if you are likely to have to make changes to your approach, design or indeed your timeline, please write up a contingency plan that accounts for the likely impacts, and provides a path to return to ‘normal’ practice once the COVID-19 impact has passed.

If your project required ethics approval, and the data collection method or timing has been changed, please let the Research Ethics and Integrity Unit know about this change.

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.

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.

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?

As all other UC functions and services will be online for the next two months, you should consult with your supervisor and conduct other meetings through Zoom, MS Teams, Skype, Google Hangouts, or other apps.

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 to virtual mode, so please contact us via email or MS Teams for the period of shutdown, i.e. from 5pm Thursday, 12 August 2021 to Thursday, 2 September 2021.

Please note, messages left on the Graduate Research’s generic phone number, +61 02 6206 8370, will also be received and responded to.

For all emails, please include your name, student ID number, and the HDR course in which you are enrolled. We will endeavour to provide responses as soon as possible. With the changing COVID-19 situation, the GR team are receiving a higher than usual number of emails. As such there will be a delay in our response as we work through urgent and non-urgent emails, but the expected response time is within 7 working days after receipt of your email. If your matter is critical, please email and mark it as “URGENT” in the subject heading.

How do I submit forms now?

Please continue to send HDR Forms via email

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. Your thesis is submitted and sent to examiners electronically. At this stage, examination is progressing as normal.

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?

The ReD program is running in virtual mode, with 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. There are is a range of wellbeing-focussed workshops which we encourage people to attend. 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

You can 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.

Leave applications will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. If you need to take leave, please first consult your supervisor and your faculty HDR Convenor. If you are seeking sick leave, or compelling and compassionate leave, you will need to provide evidence, along with the completed Application for Leave from Candidature on the Research Forms webpage. You should also draft a contingency plan, showing how you will reconnect with your research after the period of leave, and in particular whether you will need to amend your research question or change your data collection process.

Please note, Friday, 27 August 2021 is Census date and those who wish to take leave and are currently enrolled in and undertaking coursework should withdraw from the coursework unit/s before applying for leave. Please complete the HDR Unit Registration Form on the Research Forms webpage and send to the HDR Support team ( for processing.

Getting Help

The University continues to provide a range of support services for HDR candidates and the Student Wellbeing team will be able to provide individualised support and information. We encourage you to make use of these facilities and support services while following the recommended ACT Health guidelines for all: stay at home and only leave home for essential reasons, wear a mask at all times upon leaving home, maintain physical distancing measures, and if you are identified as a close or casual contact by ACT Health or are experiencing even the mildest of symptoms you should get tested for COVID-19.

Please see the support services on the UC COVID-19 Support site.

Medical and Counselling Centre

Many of you may be feeling anxious about your health, and that of your family or loved ones, your candidature, visas, finances, health insurance, or may be experiencing mental health issues.

The Medical and Counselling Centre remains open, and the team are available for virtual consultations.

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

More details can on appointment options can be found on the Health and wellbeing webpage.

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

Can I access the UC Library?

The UC Library has been closed since 5pm on Thursday, 12 August. However, many of the UC Library resources are available as e-books or online journals, and your supervisors can help you access what you need

For any queries relating to the library, please email the Library team.

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

Is the University of Canberra still accepting applications for HDR courses in 2022?


UC is admitting domestic HDR candidates who can commence remotely from outside of Canberra.  Please speak to your potential supervisor/faculty.

UC will be admitting a limited number of international HDR candidates who can commence remotely (i.e. outside of Australia) whilst Australia’s borders are closed to non-Australian citizens or residents.  Certain conditions will need to be met to be admitted under this pilot scheme. Please speak to your potential faculty Associate Dean Research or HDR Convenor or contact Graduate Research on