Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Corona FAQ for GSTS PhD students

For the latest announcements and guidelines released by AU, please see the regularly updated webpage Corona information from Aarhus University.  

FAQ for PhD students

The FAQ is updated 14 June 2021

Reopening of AU Campus

The Danish Agency for Science and Higher Education has confirmed that PhD students are included in the political framework agreement that authorises the universities to allow up to 40 per cent of their students access to campus on a daily basis.

This means that starting on Monday 10 May, many PhD students will be able to come to campus to study in their PhD offices and group rooms. The PhD students who currently have access to lab facilities on campus will continue to have access on the same terms. 

Everyone who comes to campus must respect the general public health guidelines for preventing infection. For example, you must be able to present a negative Covid-test taken no more than 72 hours previously. Remember that you can get tested at one of AU’s ten supervised self-testing sites. 

In addition, local restrictions may apply at your department due to limitations imposed by the available space. It is therefore important that you stay informed on local department regulations, and get in touch with the department management if in doubt.

PhD defences

My PhD defence is coming up. What are my options?

It is now possible to conduct your PhD defence with physical attendance at AU as long as you adhere to the authorities' guidelines regarding Covid-19.

However, please be aware that the departments are responsible for complying with the regulations in the department buildings, and that they may have to impose stricter local restrictions to that effect. Thus, physical presence, including participation in and the conducting of professional events (e.g. a PhD defence), must be in agreement with your department. If in doubt, you may contact your supervisor and Head of programme for local guidelines. Read the general Covid-19 guidelines for behaviour on campus.

In principle, it is now also possible to have a reception after your defence, but bear in mind that all social events must be held in agreement with your department and in accordance with the general guidelines.

Please be aware that all employees, students and guests at AU are required to show a negative Covid-19 test (taken within the last 72 hours) upon request.

If you choose to conduct your PhD defence partly online, we recommend that you use Zoom. If you are more comfortable using one of the other AU-supported platforms, you are of course welcome to do so.  

If you have any questions regarding functionality and setup of the system, please contact your local IT-support for technical support.

OBS! PhD defences must be publicly available.
This means that for online PhD defences, interested parties should upon request be able to get a link to access the defence. Therefore, please submit to your PhD partner a name and e-mail address for the person in charge of distributing the link. This information will be added to the online announcement of the defence.

The contact person can be the supervisor, the chairman of the assessment committee, or the programme secretary, and he/she may also instruct audience members in proper online etiquette (e.g. muting microphones and turning off cameras). If no such arrangement can be made, please contact your PhD partner to find an alternative solution.  

How do I conduct my PhD defence digitally/online?

First of all, make sure to update your PhD partner about your plans for conducting your defence.

We recommend that you use one of these four digital platforms:

Please read the guides carefully. Aarhus University has licenses for all platforms and can provide IT-support, if needed.

The platforms have different strengths and weaknesses. We recommend that you use the platform, with which you are most comfortable. All four platforms support the following functionalities:

  • Recording
  • Screen sharing
  • Notes, chat and whiteboard
  • Video conference

(With Adobe Connect and Zoom you can also make breakout sessions within a meeting.)

If you have any questions regarding functionality and setup of the system, please contact your local IT-support.

Please note when conducting a digital defence:

  • The PhD defence must be publicly available.
    Interested parties should upon request be able to get a link to access the defence. Therefore, please submit to your PhD partner a name and e-mail address for the person in charge of distributing the link. This information will be added to the online announcement of the defence. The contact person can be the supervisor, the chairman of the assessment committee, or the programme secretary, and he/she may also instruct audience members in proper online etiquette (e.g. muting microphones and turning off cameras). If no such arrangement can be made, please contact your PhD partner to find an alternative solution.
  • The PhD thesis must be available for reading before the defence.
    Since Aarhus University is physically closed for the time being, your PhD thesis will not be available for reading at the offices of the PhD administration, as is our usual procedure. Instead, interested parties can send an e-mail to gradschool.tech@au.dk to receive a digital copy. It may in certain cases be necessary to make individual arrangements to read the PhD thesis.

 

I have defended my PhD thesis. How soon can I get my diploma?

Your diploma will be sent within 2 months of a successfully completed PhD defence. 
All diplomas will be sent digitally through e-boks.

If you urgently need documentation of your PhD degree, please ask your PhD partner to prepare a letter confirming your successfully completed PhD defence.


Qualifying exam

My qualifying exam is coming up. What are my options?

It is now possible to conduct your qualifying exam with physical attendance at AU as long as you adhere to the authorities' guidelines regarding Covid-19.

However, please be aware that the departments are responsible for complying with the regulations in the department buildings, and that they may have to impose stricter local restrictions to that effect. Thus, physical presence, including participation in and the conducting of professional events (e.g. a qualifying exam), must be in agreement with your department. If in doubt, you may contact your supervisor and Head of programme for local guidelines. Read the general Covid-19 guidelines for behaviour on campus.

In principle, it is now also possible to have a reception after your qualifying exam, but bear in mind that all social events must be held in agreement with your department and in accordance with the general guidelines.

Digital solutions
We recommend that you use one of these four digital platforms:

Please read the guides carefully. Aarhus University has licenses for all platforms and can provide IT-support, if needed.

The platforms have different strengths and weaknesses. We recommend that you use the platform, with which you are most comfortable. All four platforms support the following functionalities:

  • Recording
  • Screen sharing
  • Notes, chat and whiteboard
  • Video conference

(With Adobe Connect and Zoom you can also make breakout sessions within a meeting.)

If you have any questions regarding functionality and setup of the system, please contact your local IT-support.


Research Environment Change

I'm finding it difficult to implement a change of research environment. What are my options?

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is difficult to implement a change of research environment in many cases. Based on this, it will exceptionally be possible to do a virtual change of research environment where PhD students participate in supervision, seminars, group meeting etc. with another research group at a foreign research institution.

In addition, it will be possible for PhD students to do a change of research environment at another Danish university. We accept virtual participation and contribution, if physical attendance is not permitted.

Change of research environment must be planned in cooperation with your supervisor and registered in the PhD Planner system.

If you can document that you have examined the above-mentioned options, and that it is not possible to organise a change of research environment within this framework, an exemption may be granted for the change of research environment, if this consequently will delay the submission of the PhD dissertation and the conclusion of the PhD programme.

Should I come home from my stay abroad?

That is up to you, but we encourage you to carefully consider your situation. Please also consult your main supervisor.

Please stay informed at AU’s corona website and via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark’s guidelines for travelling abroad.

Special circumstances may apply for international PhD students travelling to or from Denmark. Please keep yourself updated on the International Academic Staff Service (IAS) website.

I am travelling to Denmark soon. Can I get an official document confirming my enrolment/employment to present to the customs officer, if needed?

Yes, please ask your PhD partner to send you an enrolment/employment confirmation letter.  

Can I go abroad for my research environment change?

The Graduate School is following the current travel guidelines from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 
Please find more information regarding trips and stays abroad on the AU Corona-website and stay informed via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark’s guidelines for travelling abroad

The decision as to whether an employee may travel to an ‘orange’ country on business is up to the head of the department.

Special circumstances may apply for international PhD students travelling to or from Denmark. Please keep yourself updated on the International Academic Staff Service (IAS) website.

I have received a GSTS mobility grant, but my travel plans are affected. What should I do?

If you cut your stay short in order to return to Denmark, you are still eligible to receive the full amount of the grant despite the 90 day-requirement. The grant may be used to cover expenses in relation to cancelling or changing your travel plans.

If your stay is postponed, please send an e-mail to GSSTgrants@au.dk with the new dates for your stay abroad. You do not need to submit a new application.

If you cancel your stay abroad entirely, please let us know by sending an e-mail to GSSTgrants@au.dk. You are welcome to send another application later on, when you make new plans for your research environment change.

Click here to read more about the GSTS mobility grant.


Research and PhD courses

What am I expected to do during the AU lockdown or AU corona-restrictions?

If you are sent home due to the AU corona-restrictions it is expected that you continue to work from home, as far as possible.

We recommend that you, in consultation with your main supervisor, assess how you can approach the PhD project and what parts of the project you can work on during this period and under the given circumstances.

As usual, you should notify your manager of illness and absence in accordance with your department’s guidelines. You are not obliged to provide information about the nature of your illness, but in this special situation, you are encouraged to inform your manager if your illness is likely to be a result of coronavirus. This will make it possible for the university to apply for sick leave benefit reimbursement in connection with your absence.

Are PhD courses cancelled or postponed?

Please check the course descriptions on the GSTS website to see any updates. If in doubt, contact the person in charge of the course.

We are working hard to prepare digital solutions in order to offer distance learning. We are currently testing the technology and expect to be able to offer distance learning on some PhD courses.

The university has never before had to apply this technology on such a large scale. Therefore, we ask for your patience.


PhD enrolment and employment

Can I get an extension of my PhD project?

AU has decided on a joint procedure for handling the challenges you as a PhD student are facing in relation to completing your PhD project as a direct consequence of COVID-19, including the physical lockdown of AU.

The joint procedure is based on the political agreements on the phased reopening of the country, in addition to the Circular on the agreement on the possibility of extending temporary employment contracts, as a consequence of delays occurring in connection with COVID-19 (in Danish)

The objective of the procedure is to ensure a common point of departure for all PhD students at AU, while at the same time granting the individual graduate school the flexibility to handle the challenges in individual students’ PhD projects in the most appropriate way.

Your application for extension will be processed on the basis of an individual, specific assessment. The assessment will be carried out by the graduate school management at your graduate school on the basis of the school's guidelines. The graduate school management will make the final decision in the case. 

The joint procedure applies to PhD students whose progress has been directly affected by COVID-19:

  • AU must ensure that enrolled PhD students are able to finish their PhDs, and that the quality of the PhD project lives up to applicable academic requirements for a PhD. 
  • A delay in progress towards the PhD degree must be a direct consequence of COVID-19, including the periods of physical lockdown of AU. 
  • All PhD projects that are or may be delayed because of the COVID-19-situation must be considered individually and through individual dialogue with the principal supervisor. Furthermore, the PhD programme directors and head of departments/employer must make a statement. 
  • In the evaluation of the extension, every effort must be made to adjust the individual PhD project so as to allow the PhD student to complete their project as planned. 
  • If the PhD project cannot be completed without an extension of the deadline, the amount of additional time to be granted must be calculated on an individual basis. 
  • The nature of the delay in the PhD project must be described in the application for extension.

On what grounds can I apply for an extension of my PhD project?

You can apply for an extension if your PhD project has been delayed as a direct consequence of COVID-19, including the periods when AU’s campuses have been shut down.  

Can I apply for an extension more than one time?

It is possible to apply for an extension of your PhD project more than one time if the situation on the background of which you applied last time has changed.  

Can I apply for an extension without having funding for the extension?

Funding is not a prerequisite for applying for an extension. Your application will be assessed on an individual basis, and the head of the graduate school will make a decision in the case.  

How can I apply for an extension of my PhD project?

If an extension is deemed necessary, please follow the normal procedures described in section 7.3 of our Rules and Regulations with the “COVID19 exception”, that fellowships can also be extended; not just the study time. All applications will be individually assessed.

I’m sick, possible with COVID-19. What should I do and is it ground for an extension?

As usual, you should notify your manager of illness and absence in accordance with your department’s guidelines. You are not obliged to provide information about the nature of your illness, but in this special situation, you are encouraged to inform your manager if your illness is likely to be a result of coronavirus. This will make it possible for the university to apply for sick leave benefit reimbursement in connection with your absence.

Normally, you will only be granted an extension if you are sick continuously for more than 30 days. Special rules apply when it comes to COVID-19. Please contact the GSTS specialist team to learn more.

If you are sick, please follow the general guidelines and preventive measures outlined by AU.

Should I continue my work as a student teacher/instructor?

Yes, it is expected that you continue to carry out teaching obligations through the available digital solutions (e.g. Blackboard/Zoom). Please consult the course coordinator regarding how best to continue your teaching.

To learn more, please see AU’s webpage on how to transition to remote teaching and learning.    

18980 / i43