FAQs for Graduate Research Students

Please note that the Graduate Research School FAQs are a subset of the broader University COVID-19 FAQs. Please make sure to refer to the broarder University COVID-19 FAQs frequently to ensure you are up to date with the latest developments.

Research and supervision

Can I continue with my project?

In most cases, yes. Depending on the nature and stage of your research project, some research activity you planned may be disrupted. As a consequence, for example, you may need to defer field work or planned experimental work and seek modifications to projects with ethics approval.

Please speak with your supervisors as soon as possible to review project plans, to identify activities that can be deferred as well as opportunities to continue or commence other activities to maintain progress of your project. We recommend that you aim to keep working on elements of your research, such as reviewing the literature, analysis, publication and thesis writing, from home.

Further advice for researchers, including detailed information relating to research involving approval by the human ethics, animal ethics or institutional biosafety committees, is available on the staff intranet.

Graduate researchers will need to login using their institutional account or activate their institutional account to access the staff intranet.

How can I meet my supervisor, candidate or collaborator?

You should continue to meet with your supervisors and other collaborators remotely using applications like Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams or WhatsApp. Keep each other updated and try to maintain a regular meeting schedule.

I can’t get in touch with my supervisor – what should I do?

We’re sorry to hear that you haven’t been able to make contact with one of your supervisors. We know this is a challenging time for many people in the University community and that staff and students may be unwell or have less availability than they usually would.

If you haven’t already made contact, we suggest you get in touch with your co-supervisor (or co-supervisors) to discuss your research and let them know that a member of the supervisory team hasn’t been in contact or is unavailable. You can also talk with your Graduate Research Coordinator and Progress Committee Chair about what you can do during this interruption.

If your supervisor isn’t available to support an application for a variation to your candidature, please let us know once you submitted a form and we can make sure it’s routed to a co-supervisor or another appropriate contact for approval.

Can I travel for my research?

The Federal Government has asked everyone in Australia to reconsider their need to travel, several airlines have cancelled or reduced the number of international and domestic flights available, and there are increased levels of disruption to international borders.

The University has made the decision that all international travel is to cease immediately and existing approval for international travel has been rescinded.

Non-essential domestic travel, including conference travel, will also not be approved. Essential domestic travel, such as fieldwork, will be considered on a case by case basis and approved only where the candidate can demonstrate that the travel is absolutely essential and cannot be deferred. However, at this stage we recommend you reconsider the need for any travel given the likelihood of further disruption to domestic travel.

New applications for travel must be supported by your supervisor and approved by the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Global and Graduate Research).

Note that confirmation of available funding doesn’t guarantee that a Study Away application will be approved. Likewise, the withdrawal or unavailability of funding doesn’t affect the Study Away application and approval process.

We’re sorry if your plans for Study Away have been interrupted by the new travel restrictions and encourage you to speak with your supervisor about plans for research activities which may as a result need to be deferred.

GRS enquiries and support

Is the GRS open?

The Graduate Research School is open and all members of our team are working from home. We’ll respond to emails, phone calls and will continue to process applications, candidature forms, examinations and we’ll run workshops and research initiatives for candidates remotely.

Can I talk with the Graduate Research School in person?

We’re very happy to talk with you and many staff across the University are also working from home and able to talk with you on the phone or via Zoom. If you have a webcam or audio, we can send you a link to an online meeting which you can join without needing to download any software.

Are RED programs still taking place?

Absolutely. The Research Education and Development team runs a comprehensive suite of online programs and the majority of face-to-face RED offerings are being transitioned to online. You can check to see whether your program is identified already as available online.

Can I submit a paper form to the GRS?

You can submit any form to the GRS either online or via email. If you need to, you can also take a photo of a paper form you’ve filled out and email that to us. If you are having trouble accessing our online forms from home, let us know and we may be able to provide an alternative format for you to use.

Will I still be paid my graduate research scholarship?

Absolutely. The graduate research and payroll functions of the university are operating and graduate research scholarships will continue to be paid throughout this time.

Candidature lifecycle

Can I still apply for and commence a new graduate research degree?

Yes. Our researchers and graduate researchers continue to carry out world-class research across a wide range of fields and we are taking applications for PhD, Masters by research and professional doctorate degrees at any time.

If you haven’t already, please check the entry requirements for your course or visit our how to apply pages.

If you have received an offer of enrolment but haven’t already commenced your graduate research degree, we recommend that you consider deferring commencement for up to 6 months. Please discuss this with your supervisor in the first instance. If you have been offered a La Trobe Graduate Research Scholarship or Research Training Program (RTP) Stipend, you may apply to defer commencement of the scholarship for up to 6 months from the initial commencement date.

Can I postpone my milestone due date because of coronavirus?

Yes, if your progress has been delayed or if you need to wait for an opportunity to give an oral presentation of your work, you can apply to postpone your milestone due date. Note that you can submit your milestone report to the GRS within 20 days of your milestone due date without applying formally. If you need longer than that, use the form available online.

Do I still need to give an oral presentation as part of my progress milestone if on campus activities are limited or cancelled?

Developing skills in presenting research to an audience of peers and learning from their feedback is still an essential part of the graduate research experience and so the oral presentation is still a requirement of each progress milestone.

While departmental forums and large research retreats will not be taking place, we encourage researchers to be innovative in their approach to sharing research with one another during these unusual times – you may wish to share your oral presentation using Zoom or a webinar.

Can I go part-time due to the interruption to my research?

We encourage you to speak with your supervisors about what aspects of your research, including desk-based research, you can continue on a part-time basis during this period.

If you aren’t able to work full-time on your research, you can apply to change your study rate to part-time using the online forms. If you change from full-time to part-time candidature your expected work submission and progress milestone due dates will be adjusted accordingly.

If your ability to study full-time is limited because of illness or new caring responsibilities you may be able to receive your stipend at a part-time rate under our normal provisions for La Trobe (Post)Graduate Research Scholarships or a Research Training Program (RTP) Stipends. We will also consider requests to receive your stipend at a part-time rate for up to 6 months if, as a result of disruptions due to COVID-19, you are unable to work full-time on your research for a period of at least 10 days. Keep in mind that scholarships received for part-time studies are taxable under ATO regulations.

My children’s school or childcare is closed or I have new caring responsibilities. Am I expected to keep working?

If you aren’t able to work full-time on your research, you can apply to change your study rate to part-time using the online forms. If your ability to study full-time is limited because of illness or new caring responsibilities you may be able to receive your stipend at a part-time rate. Keep in mind that scholarships received for part-time studies are taxable under ATO regulations. If you change from full-time to part-time candidature your expected work submission and progress milestone due dates will be adjusted accordingly.

Normal recreation and personal leave provisions also still apply. If the interruption to your research is brief, the easiest approach may be to take recreation or personal leave. You can take up to 10 days personal leave a year and up to 20 days of recreation leave without needing to register anything with the Graduate Research School – please let your supervisor know. You will still be paid your stipend throughout any period of personal or recreation leave and your expected work submission and progress milestone dates won’t change.

See also the FAQ relating to leave of absence, including eligibility for paid leave if you or a family member is unwell or required to self-isolate.

I will need leave of absence – will I be paid?

Normal recreation and personal leave provisions still apply. If the interruption to your research is brief, the easiest approach may be to take recreation or personal leave. You can take up to 10 days personal leave a year and up to 20 days of recreation leave without needing to register anything with the Graduate Research School – please let your supervisor know. You will still be paid your stipend throughout any period of personal or recreation leave and your expected work submission and progress milestone dates won’t change.

If you’re unable to do any research for a period longer than 10 days, you can apply for Leave of Absence. Most leave is unpaid, but if you’re receiving a La Trobe (Post)Graduate Research Scholarship or a Research Training Program (RTP) Stipend, you are eligible for up to twelve weeks’ paid leave for medically substantiated periods of illness for the scholarship holder or a family member, or if you or a family member in your care is required to self-isolate as a result of COVID-19. If you take paid or unpaid Leave of Absence, your expected work submission and progress milestone due dates will be adjusted accordingly.

Can I extend my candidature and will I need to pay tuition fees?

As a result of COVID-19, some candidates will face disruption to their project through interruption to travel, fieldwork and clinical studies, access to facilities and potentially also supervision. It is important that candidates and supervisors work together as soon as possible to modify current project plans where necessary and identify opportunities to maintain progress during the period of COVID-19 disruption in order to mitigate future delays.

We understand that some candidates may need additional support through an extension to candidature. The level of disruption will depend upon the research discipline and nature of the research project, the stage in candidature lifecycle, and the longevity of the COVID-19 crisis.

If as a result of disruption to your research due to COVID-19 you will need more time to complete your project then please speak with your supervisors in the first instance and let us know your circumstances using the Extension to Candidature or EWSD online form.

For international candidates with an approved extension to candidature as a consequence of project disruption due to COVID-19, we will support you with a La Trobe University Full Fee Research Scholarship to cover your tuition fees during the extended period. Similarly, domestic candidates will not be charged tuition fees if they are granted an extension beyond their maximum completion date.

Can I extend my stipend scholarship?

La Trobe’s 3.5 year graduate research scholarships include an extension up-front to account for potential disruptions to their studies. Some candidates will face significant new disruptions to their project as a result of COVID-19, particularly through interruption to essential fieldwork and clinical studies and access to facilities. We understand that candidates who face further disruption may need additional support through an extension to a stipend scholarship. The level of disruption will depend upon the research discipline and nature of the research project, the stage in candidature lifecycle, and the longevity of the COVID-19 crisis.

If you hold a La Trobe (Post)Graduate Research Scholarship or a Research Training Program (RTP) Stipend and, as a result of disruption to your research due to COVID-19, wish to apply for additional stipend support then please let us know of your circumstances using the Extension to Candidature or EWSD online form.

Can I still submit my thesis?

Absolutely! The procedures for submitting your thesis are exactly the same and examinations will continue during this period, although we anticipate there might some delays as staff across the University and examiners may also be impacted by COVID-19. You can read about the submission and examination process on the GRS website. Good luck with the final stages of your thesis writing.

If your candidature has lapsed then you can still submit your thesis. We will extend your lapsed period by six months in case you need additional time.

Can I still graduate?

Unfortunately, graduations due to take place in April/May have been cancelled in respect of the public health and safety and mass gathering and physical distancing measures introduced by the Victorian and Federal governments. The Graduations team will be in touch with advice relating to alternative arrangements and rescheduling of ceremonies. If you were due to graduate in April/May then please look out for this email in your student email account.

Seeking urgent or additional help

I’m facing financial hardship – what support is available?

We understand that many people are facing financial hardship due to the impact of COVID-19 and the following support is being implemented. The requirement for students to pay the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) for Semester 1, 2020, has been waived and any candidates who have already made their payment will receive a full reimbursement. A process for applying for refunds for parking permits will also shortly be announced.

In addition, a La Trobe University COVID-19 Financial Assistance Program – a support package available to all current students experiencing financial hardship – has been created. Application details for the program will be announced shortly, including:

  • A technology bursary that will support those who don’t have access to computers or internet at home.
  • A one-off $3000 Crisis Support Scholarship for students experiencing significant financial crisis and housing insecurity
  • An emergency relief fund that will provide one-off payments for essentials such as food.

I'm approaching the end of my enrolment – what should I do?

If you are about to reach your maximum completion date and you are not in a position yet to submit your thesis then normally your candidature will be lapsed; you can still submit your thesis, but you are not formally enrolled. If your research progress has been disrupted due to COVID-19, you may wish to consider applying for an extension to candidature using the online forms. Discuss your circumstances with your supervisors in the first instance.

At this stage we are encouraging candidates whose enrolment ends prior to 1 July to get in touch with us at grs@latrobe.edu.au to discuss your circumstances. If unsure of your dates, please get in touch and we will be happy to help.

My student visa is due to expire – what should I do?

If your student visa is due to expire then you may be able to apply to the Department of Home Affairs for a bridging visa if you need to remain in the country after your student visa expires. Visit https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/ for more information.  If you require a letter confirming that your thesis is still under examination then please contact grs@latrobe.edu.au.

My circumstances and support needs have changed – what should I do?

Our aim is to support all graduate researchers to keep working on elements of their research from home for as long as possible. We recognise that there is significant diversity both in the level of disruption that COVID-19 will cause and in the circumstances of candidates. This is why we have established a range of provisions that can be tailored to particular projects and individual circumstances.

We also don’t know the likely longevity of the COVID-19 crisis, so project and individual priorities may change in the coming months. If your circumstances and support needs change or if your immediate needs are not addressed amongst these FAQs then please don’t hesitate to get in touch via grs@latrobe.edu.au. We will do everything we can to assist in what we know is a challenging environment.

Working from home - Technology

I don’t have access to a computer or internet at home – am I expected to keep working?

We recognise that some students have difficulty accessing technology at home and provision is being made for study hub access in Bundoora and each regional campus for a limited number of students who do not otherwise have access to computers (more details to follow). Individuals remaining to work on campus are required to follow the strict rules around physical distancing and other health and safety protocols.

You will need to contact your School with any queries about using University equipment at home.

In addition, the La Trobe University COVID-19 Financial Assistance Program – technology bursary is being established to assist those who don’t have access to computers or internet at home. Further details will be announced shortly.

My device doesn’t have the right software or isn’t up to the task. Am I expected to keep working?

Please check your technology setup and, with your supervisors, plan ahead for potential disruption in the future. Make sure you can access all necessary files and University systems remotely via your personal device or University laptop if one is available. You may wish to download the University VPN, install applications like Zoom, and make sure OneDrive is set up so you can access the files you need in the event you can’t attend a campus where you’re usually based. More information on how to access La Trobe systems on your own computer can be found on the ASK ICT website.

You will need to contact your School with any queries about using University equipment at home.

In addition, the La Trobe University COVID-19 Financial Assistance Program – technology bursary is being established to assist those who don’t have access to computers or internet at home. Further details will be announced shortly.