FAQs for Graduate Research Students

Please note that the Graduate Research School FAQs are a subset of the broader Staying COVIDSafe at La Trobe guidelines. Please make sure to refer to the broader University COVID-19 guidelines to ensure you are up to date with any new developments

COVIDSafe update 14 November 2022

Attending a La Trobe campus

The Victorian Government Pandemic Orders were updated on 12 October 2022.  With the high level of vaccination in the community, the Victorian Government has removed or relaxed a significant number of restrictions.  We ask that you continue, however, to follow the University's Staying COVIDSafe at La Trobe guidelines, as the health and safety of the La Trobe community remains our first priority.

There is no vaccination requirement to attend any La Trobe campus as of the 14 November 2022.  We continue to strongly encourage you to get vaccinated and to get your booster vaccinations where available.  Vaccination appointments can be booked through your GP or local pharmacy.

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

If you have concerns about attending or conducting research on 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.

Requirements for fieldwork and research at third-party sites

All research at third-party sites (including partner sites) must be covered by a Safety Risk Assessment. Speak to your supervisor to make arrangements.

You must comply with any requirements of the third-party site, including their vaccination requirements. When visiting another site we also encourage you to follow the Victorian Government’s COVIDSafe guidelines.

If you wish to travel domestically or internationally for your research, you need to submit the Graduate Research Study Away form via StudentOnLine.

Special requirements for clinical settings

If your research requires you to attend clinical or correctional settings you will need to comply with any vaccine mandates in place for those settings, including those for healthcare workers.  To work in certain clinical settings, you must be fully vaccinated (boosted), or have a valid exemption.

These include:

  • Public health services
  • Public hospitals
  • Denominational hospitals
  • Private hospitals and day procedure centres
  • Ambulance services
  • Patient transport services that are engaged or engaged by a health service or Ambulance Victoria
  • Residential aged care services operated by public health services

For further information on vaccination requirements in these clinical settings please see the Victorian Department of Health “Vaccination for Healthcare Workers” page.

If you are conducting research in a third-party setting that has a vaccine mandate, or requirement, you will need to provide proof of your vaccination status to the University.

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.

Candidature life cycle

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.

Where possible, progess meetings should be arranged so that the report can be submitted to the Graduate Research School by the due date.  Where this is not possible, candidates may submit their report within a grace period of 2 months calendar time for Masters by research and 3 months calendar time for doctoral degrees provided that:

  • Your principal supervisor agrees to the delay
  • Your progress has not been marked as being at risk
  • Your due date has not already been postponed, or that you have used up the maximum postponement period throughout your candidature
  • That your revised meeting date will be within your maximum period of candidature.

Keep in mind that if you submit your report after the due date but during the grace period any subsequent milestones or your expected work submission date (EWSD) will not change.

If you find that you are not able to submit your milestone report by your due date, or within the relevant grace period, you will need to apply to postpone your milestone using the Graduate Research Extension or Postponement form via StudentOnLine.

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 ad hoc progress review meeting to address any problems (you can request an ad hoc review form by emailing Candidature.GRS@latrobe.edu.au with the date you wish to hold it). It is important not to defer the resolution of any issues!

If you have any questions please discuss this with your Principal Supervisor or Progress Committee Chair. You can view your dates via MyOverview in StudentOnLine.

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

For candidates working on projects that were 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 candidature.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.

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. 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.

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 have faced 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.

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

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 Graduate Research Extension or Postponement form through StudentOnLine. 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 faced significant 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 faced 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, and the stage in candidature lifecycle.

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 Graduate Research Extension or Postponement form through StudentOnLine . 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.