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University of Bath

Guidance for doctoral students on returning to campus

Read the latest information on how and when we may be able to return to offices and laboratories on campus

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 recognise that a significant proportion of our doctoral students need to access specialist resources on campus, or need to travel.

Many of the laboratories have re-opened over the summer, with 400+ students already returned. Academic departments have only very recently (late-September 2020) received confirmation that doctoral offices can reopen and so they have been busily determining how best these can operate. The Doctoral College has also been actively engaged with central administration on re-opening Study Spaces (formerly known as Learning/Graduate Commons).

New web pages have been set up for plans for summer and the 2020/21 academic year and you'll find details of access to campus, research activities and working arrangements.

The University however recognises that many doctoral students may not be able to return to the campus, including those who are clinically vulnerable or 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 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, DoS or HoD (or other member of staff with the designated authority such as Dept. Lab Technical Manager or H&S Officer).

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.
  • 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.
  • Complete a Risk Assessment, with reference to the examples at Planning to return to university premises: Health & safety and risk assessments.
  • If you have a Disability Access Plan (DAP) in-place then you should discuss any necessary adjustments with your supervisor before returning to campus.
  • As a point of good practice, you and your supervisor should refer to the Manager's Checklist - although designed for staff, this will help ensure that all aspects are addressed during your discussions.

Working in doctoral offices

The Government guidance is clear that we should continue to work from home if possible. Departments have recently been considering how best to manage their doctoral office space: the capacity being significantly reduced due to ensuring safe distancing. Departments will have been in contact with their students, outlining local arrangements including (where implemented) rota systems.

Unfortunately, with reduced capacity in offices, many departments may not be able to offer its students office space all the time.

Where students continue to work from home, but need to pick up equipment, papers and belongings (but not to work), they should contact their department to confirm how best to access their 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 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 10W, but doctoral students can 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):

Consideration of the Risk Assessment for the specific Laboratory

Underpinning the University’s opening of research laboratories are the Government’s five key points:

  1. Work from home, if you can
  2. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions
  3. Maintain 2 metres social distancing, wherever possible
  4. Where people cannot be 2 metres apart, manage transmission risk
  5. Reinforcing cleaning processes

Recognising that our research laboratories have lower carrying capacity under the Government guidance, many are operating on a rota basis – see your department 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, DoS or HoD (or other member of staff with the designated authority such as Dept. Lab Technical Manager or H&S 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.