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Guidance for doctoral students on returning to campus

Read the latest information on how to return to offices and laboratories on campus if you're unable to work remotely

Returning to campus for doctoral students

Although many doctoral students have been able to continue to study from home during the Covid-19 lockdown, we know that some doctoral students need to access specialist resources on campus. You should not begin any new campus work without appropriate authorisation.

Many of the laboratories and doctoral offices in academic departments and Study Spaces (formerly known as Learning/Graduate Commons) have re-opened since the initial lockdown in March 2020. The government’s guidance on accessing campus facilities is set out in the University’s FAQs for students.

You can read details online of which facilities and services are open on campus, including the Library and catering outlets, as well as view campus one-way route maps and read advice on travelling in and around Bath during the pandemic.

If you're unable to return to campus or have concerns about your safety, please speak to your supervisor, Director of Studies or Head of Department. This may be because you or someone in your household is clinically extremely vulnerable, you have caring responsibilities due to the pandemic, or you have a disability, long-term health condition or mental health condition.

Working on campus

All doctoral students (and staff) who wish to work on campus must complete the following, and liaise with your Lead Supervisor who is responsible for sign-off.

  • Complete the Covid-19 Health Questionnaire to confirm that you and members of your household do not exhibit any symptoms, and whether you require to self-isolate due to you or a household member being classed as vulnerable. In some cases, you may be referred for an Occupational Health assessment; your supervisor will then ensure that any recommendations are in place. If you have already done this earlier in the academic year then we do not require you to complete it again unless you have had a significant change in health or other relevant circumstances (such as becoming pregnant).
  • Read the Departmental / Building Operations Plan, which includes details of one-way systems, logging-in procedures, key contacts – these need to include all buildings that you are working in.
  • Your Lead Supervisor is responsible for ensuring that risk assessments are written and that any identified Covid secure control measures are implemented. Example assessments are provided at Planning to return to university premises: Health & safety and risk assessments.
  • Make sure that you understand and can comply with these assessments when working in the University. If you have any concerns about the assessments, then you should discuss with your Lead Supervisor in the first instance. Refer to the Manager's Checklist with your supervisor - although designed for staff, this will help ensure that all aspects are addressed.
  • If you have a Disability Access Plan (DAP) in-place then you should discuss any necessary adjustments with your supervisor before returning to campus.

Working in doctoral offices

Government guidance is that we should only leave home to go to work where it is not reasonable to work from home. If you’re unable to work remotely and need to work from campus, the Government has updated guidance on making your workplace Covid-secure with specific advice for working in offices.

Departments have considered how best to manage their doctoral office space: the capacity is significantly reduced due to ensure safe distancing. Departments will have been in contact with their students, outlining local arrangements including rota systems (where implemented). Unfortunately, with reduced capacity in offices, many departments may not be able to offer its students office space all the time.

If you can continue to work from home, but need to pick up equipment, papers and belongings, you should contact your department to confirm how to access your equipment.

The previous Essential Visiting Procedures have been relaxed; should Government advice change, however, then such procedures may need to be reinstated.

Other University work spaces

If you are unable to work at home or within the department, the University has a number of Study Spaces (formerly known as Learning/Graduate Commons) available for students to use – both on- and off-campus. Details, along with the online LibCal booking system can be found at where to study on campus and in the city.

Space is reserved for Doctoral students (and in some cases with PGT) in 8W, but doctoral students can also book space in any of the other Study Spaces.

Working in laboratories

Many students have already completed the necessary processes to enable them to resume working in laboratories. If you are yet to do this, below is a list of items that you need to complete, in addition to the requirements for Working on Campus (above) and the Risk Assessment for the specific Laboratory. You should also refer to Government guidance on working in labs and research facilities.

As our research laboratories have lower carrying capacity under the Government guidance, many are operating on a rota basis – information on rotas and maximum capacities should be included in the local risk assessment. Contact your Lead Supervisor for more details.

As a laboratory user, you will already be familiar with the Health & Safety procedures in place for your particular situation – in our Health & Safety Guide for Doctoral Students and, importantly, those relating to the specific laboratory concerned. You will already have discussed these with your supervisor(s) in relation to your original planned research activities.

The Risk Assessment Framework takes into account those researchers who may not be able to return to laboratories, including those who may be clinically-vulnerable themselves, who may be in a household including someone who is clinically vulnerable, and those who have caring (or other) responsibilities due to the pandemic. Despite best-efforts, it may be that revised laboratory protocols make it difficult for those with certain disabilities to return. Likewise, we also appreciate the stressful nature of the current situation, and that some doctoral students may not feel confident in returning at this stage.

In the event of you having any concerns about the safety of you or colleagues, you should raise these in the first instance with your supervisor, Director of Studies or Head of Department (or other member of staff with the designated authority such as Department. Lab Technical Manager or Health & Safety Officer).

Access to the library

The library reopened levels 3, 4 and 5 on 24 September, along with study spaces. Read the information on the library reopening and how to book study space.