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 broader University COVID-19 FAQs frequently to ensure you are up to date with the latest developments.

COVIDSafe update 4 May 2022

Returning to campus

The Victorian Government Pandemic Orders were updated on 23 April 2022.  With the high level of vaccination in the community, the state government has removed or relaxed a significant number of restrictions.  However, please continue to follow the University's COVIDSafe guidelines, including vaccination requirements.  Your safety remains our priority.

Requirements for campus access

Vaccination is mandatory to come on to any La Trobe campus and all graduate researchers are required to provide proof of full vaccination (or a valid medical exemption) via MyHR (instructions below) before attending any of our campuses.

This requirement is outlined in our Health and Safety Procedure – COVID-19 vaccination. This also includes a set of maps for each campus, clearly indicating designated zones in which full vaccination is a requirement. Designated zones also apply to third party clinical teaching and research spaces.

If you have already submitted proof of vaccination to the University under the Authorised Worker Permit scheme for essential research purposes you will need to resubmit this information via MyHR.

Requirements for fieldwork and research at third-party sites

You must be fully vaccinated (or have a valid medical exemption) and complete a Fieldwork Safety Risk Assessment to conduct research in third party locations. This includes attending partner sites. Speak to your supervisor in the first instance to make arrangements.

Before visiting a third-party site you need to provide proof of your vaccination status via MyHR as outlined below. The University will not share your certificate or vaccination details with third parties; however, the third party may require you to present your certificate to them when you visit their site. There are additional government requirements for visiting healthcare and educational facilities – see further information below.

When visiting another site, you must comply with the University COVIDSafe Plan, and any requirements of the third-party site. Your Associate Dean (Research and Industry Engagement) will be able to advise you further.

If you wish to travel domestically or internationally for your research, you need to submit the online Study Away form. See the travel FAQ below.

Special requirements for clinical and education settings

If your research requires you to attend healthcare facilities, you will need to comply with the additional vaccine mandate for healthcare workers.  To work in a healthcare setting, you must have received three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine (or have a valid exemption).

If your research requires you to attend schools, early childhood education or childcare settings, you will need to comply with the additional vaccine mandate for education workers.  To work in an education setting, you must have received three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine (or have a valid exemption).

Please note that if you submitted your vaccination status in the MyHR portal prior to 9 February 2022, you will need to resubmit your certificate as your booster status will not have been recorded.

Providing proof of your vaccination (or valid exemption)

Follow these steps to provide proof of your vaccination status (or valid medical exemption):

  • Log in to MyHR and click on the COVID-19 Vaccine Status tile on your MyHR home page.
  • If you are logged into your computer (or other university systems in your browser) using your student account, you will need to use one of the methods outlined on our institutional account page to login to MyHR and avoid single sign-on errors.
  • Complete the required fields and attach your pdf COVID-19 Digital Certificate (sample). The system will not accept your immunisation statement or your International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate. You can find more detailed instructions on the intranet.

To update your existing MyHR vaccination record with your booster status:

  • Log in to MyHR and click on the COVID-19 Vaccine Status tile on your MyHR home page.
  • Change your Vaccination Status to “Fully Vaccinated (Boosted)” and upload a new copy of your pdf COVID-19 Digital Certificate (sample). Your certificate needs to have been downloaded from MyGov after 8 January 2022 when the government updated the certificate format.
  • If there are any issues with the process of validation of your uploaded certificate the University will contact you.

Reminders for attending campus / third-party sites

Please follow general COVID safe measures:

  • Follow the current COVIDSafe settings
  • As face masks are no longer mandatory in most indoor settings, they will no longer be required for staff and students attending on-site work and study, although they remain highly recommended in all indoor settings.  Individuals are still welcome to choose to wear a face mask, and mask wearing is still encouraged particularly in environments where it may be difficult to physically distance from others.  See the Government rules about masks here.
  • Higher risk activities undertaken by the University will continue to be assessed and Safety Risk Assessments will identify where there remains a requirement to wear face masks as an appropriate control measure.  This information will be communication to these specific staff and students.
  • Practice good hand hygiene and cough etiquette
  • Maintain appropriate physical distancing
  • If you feel even slightly unwell with respiratory symptoms, immediately self-isolate and test using a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT), or attend a testing site for a PCR test and isolate at home until you receive the result. This applies regardless of your vaccination status. Even if you have been fully vaccinated, there is a risk you can still transmit the virus to other people.
  • Asymptomatic household and social contacts are no longer required to isolate, provided that you take a daily RAT for five days following confirmation of exposure and wear a face mask outside the home.
  • Bring your La Trobe ID card as you will need it to access certain buildings or to confirm your identity.

COVID Marshals will be on campus to validate vaccination status.

Notify the University

  • Please remember that staff and students must notify their tertiary education provider if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and may have attended while infectious. If you have been diagnosed, please follow the process for notifying the University and public health authorities.  It is now also your responsibility to inform social and workplace contacts if you have tested positive.
  • If you become aware of a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case amongst students, staff or a campus visitor, or are contacted by placement providers about possible exposures please immediately inform Spomenka Krizmanic.

Research and supervision

Can I travel for my research?

COVID-19 has introduced new risks that must be managed to keep you safe and to be able to respond to unexpected events. All travel, except for inter-campus travel, must be formally approved via the Study Away form and COVID-19 supplementary document [DOC 45 KB] available on the forms page of our website. Note that confirmation of available funding doesn't guarantee that a Study Away application will be approved.

Can I undertake fieldwork or attend a third-party site to conduct research?

You must be fully vaccinated (or have a valid medical exemption) and complete a Fieldwork Safety Risk Assessment to conduct research in third party locations. This includes attending partner sites. Speak to your supervisor in the first instance to make arrangements.

Before visiting a third-party site you need to provide evidence to the University that you are fully vaccinated or have a valid medical exemption and have that verified (see above). The University will not share your certificate or vaccination details with third parties; however, the third party may require you to present your certificate to them when you visit their site.

When visiting another site, you must comply with the University COVIDSafe Plan, and any requirements of the third party site. Your Dean or Head of School will be able to advise you further.

If you wish to travel for your research, you need to submit the online Study Away form. See the travel FAQ above.

Special requirements apply to conducting fieldwork in healthcare or education settings

If attending a healthcare or education setting (school, early childhood or childcare), you will need to comply with the State Government booster mandate for workers in these settings.  Anyone working in a healthcare or education setting must have received three doses of the COVID-19 vaccination.

Please see above for instructions on how to upload your booster status into MyHR.

What if I’m conducting research involving human participants?

Please refer to the researcher FAQs [intranet] for information relating to research involving human participants. You may need to submit a modification request or a new application to the Human mailto:travel@latrobe.edu.au Ethics Committee and complete a COVID-19 risk assessment for approval. Please discuss this with your supervisor in the first instance.

My personal circumstances make it difficult for me to return to research on campus. What should I do?

We understand that everyone has different personal circumstances which may affect when it is safe and appropriate for them to return to campus.

If you have concerns about returning to campus, we encourage you to raise these with your supervisors so you can work out an appropriate solution. You can also speak to your Progress Committee Chair or Graduate Research Coordinator about your concerns.

Candidature lifecycle

Can I postpone my milestone due date because of coronavirus, and do I still need to give an oral presentation?

The oral presentation is still a requirement of each progress milestone and we encourage you to share your oral presentation using Zoom or a webinar. 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.

With the disruptions due to COVID-19, we have suspended the requirement to submit a postponement request form for postponements of up to 3 months, as long as you have agreement of your principal supervisor. Keep in mind that if you postpone a milestone in this way the dates of any subsequent milestones or your expected work submission date (EWSD) will not change.

Please note:

  • If your progress has been marked at-risk and you are on a Progress Support Plan, you must still hold your attempt at the milestone by the planned date; this cannot be postponed.
  • If you wish to postpone a milestone or your EWSD by more than three calendar months you must obtain approval by submitting an Extension to candidature or expected work submission date form.
  • This new provision does not apply to extensions to scholarship or the maximum candidature date. These must still be requested and approved via the Extension to candidature or expected work submission date form.
  • The three-month window is calendar time, i.e. it is the same for full-time and part-time candidates.

We recommend that if there are unresolved issues affecting your progress, or if you need additional support, you proceed with your Progress Committee milestone meeting as planned or hold an adhoc progress review meeting to address any problems (you can request an adhoc review form by emailing GRS@latrobe.edu.au with the date you wish to hold it) . It is important not to defer the resolution of any issues! Candidates or their supervisors who wish to still meet the set milestone dates can of course still do so.

If you have any questions and or wish to postpone your progress dates as outlined above please discuss this with your Principal Supervisor or Progress Committee Chair. You can view your dates via MyOverview.

My research project is significantly disrupted by COVID-19 – what can I do?

For candidates working on projects which have been significantly disrupted by COVID-19, we recommend that you hold an ‘ad hoc’ progress committee review meeting if you haven’t already done so. You can request an ad hoc review form by emailing grs@latrobe.edu.au. This meeting will not serve as a progress milestone but will be an opportunity to review plans for progressing your project and strategies to mitigate delays, and to document the possible need for future variations to your candidature. This will also help us to plan ahead to support you in the future.

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

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 your study rate, your expected work submission and progress milestone due dates will be adjusted accordingly. We encourage you to speak with your supervisors about what aspects of your research you can continue on a part-time basis during this period.

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.

While international research degree candidates on a student visa must normally be enrolled full-time, you can apply to study part-time where you can demonstrate compassionate and compelling grounds, which could include disruptions due to COVID-19. You need to provide evidence of the specific delays you are experiencing, such as a written statement from you and your supervisor outlining the circumstances which prevent you studying full-time. We encourage you to contact La Trobe International Student Services to discuss your situation with a staff member before submitting your application.

I 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 are required to self-isolate as a result of COVID-19. Paid sick leave provisions may also be used to cover leave for candidates with family caring responsibilities. If you take paid or unpaid Leave of Absence, your expected work submission and progress milestone due dates will be adjusted accordingly.

I’m an international student on a student visa, can I take Leave of Absence?

International students on a student visa can apply to take Leave of Absence where there are compassionate and compelling circumstances – such as serious illness, or where you are unable to do any research due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

If your research plans have been disrupted due to COVID-19, it’s important that you work together with your supervisors to identify ways you can mitigate delays as much as possible. You should also consider holding an ad hoc meeting with your progress committee to discuss your options. You may be able to adapt your research plans, for example changing the order of tasks, or altering the focus of your research to activities more easily undertaken remotely. Where you are unable to identify ways to continue your research due to the disruptions, you may be able to take a Leave of Absence.

If applying for LOA due to COVID-19 disruptions, you’ll need to include a statement from you and your supervisors outlining the impact of the disruptions on your research and what steps you have taken to try to find ways to continue your research. We also encourage you to contact La Trobe International Student Services to discuss your situation with a staff member before submitting your application. You can also access our confidential and free counselling services to support your wellbeing.

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, as well as individual working arrangements. It is important that candidates and supervisors work together 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. In this case, for requests to extend candidature by up to 3 months beyond your maximum completion date, you need only add a brief statement relating to the impact of COVID where the form asks for a statement outlining the reasons for the request. International sponsored candidates will need to seek approval by their sponsor in the normal way before submitting an Extension to Candidature form to the GRS.

We recommend that you consider submitting an Extension to Candidature form when you are approaching the final six months of your candidature, once you are aware of the additional time you will need. If you are at an earlier stage in your candidature there is no need to do this immediately; access to additional time due to the impacts of COVID-19 will remain available throughout your degree.

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, if you are a domestic candidate, you will not be charged tuition fees if you are granted an extension beyond your maximum completion date.

If your approved extension is likely to affect your student visa then please contact LTICompliance@latrobe.edu.au for assistance.

Can I extend my scholarship?

La Trobe’s 3.5 year graduate research scholarships include an extension up-front to account for potential disruptions. 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 duration 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. Make sure you include a detailed explanation of how the disruption you have experienced has caused your progress to be delayed by the amount of time you are requesting a stipend extension for.

Seeking urgent or additional help

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

The La Trobe Student Association offers financial counselling to all students and has helpful factsheets and links to emergency resources on their website.

If you are an international student and need more time to pay your fees, please get in touch with the International Student Services Team to discuss your situation.

We understand that this is a difficult time for many and that you may need additional wellbeing support. As a graduate researcher, you can now request the University's counselling services to call you directly, either by Zoom or over the phone via their webpage. Once your request has been processed, a team member will get in touch with you directly.

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 to submit your thesis yet then normally your candidature will be lapsed for 12 months; you can still submit your thesis during this period, 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.

My 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.

Working off campus - Technology and resources

I don’t have access to the right software off campus – what options are available?

If you need to access La Trobe University software, you can use ICT’s MyApps service, which provides a La Trobe virtual desktop that allows you to login from a personal computer and access software and systems as if you are using a La Trobe machine. Information on how to access this service is available on the MyApps Virtual Desktop page on the University website.

Graduate researchers can access the licensed software that is available to staff via the Kivuto store (https://latrobe.onthehub.com/) using your institutional account. This is a larger list of software than what is available using your student account and includes SPSS.

More information on how to access La Trobe systems on your own computer can be found on the ASK ICT website.