Continuation Fees Waived
Hello everyone, l hope you are all well.
Due to my candidacy in the GSA Elections for 2020/21 Academic year, l was unable to share with you the great news that l had over the past few weeks. We ticked off another item from my list of current projects and l am extremely happy about it! Yay!
The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted every member of the University in one way or another, and Postgraduate Research Students (PGRs) are no exception. For many PGRs the pandemic has created incredible disruption as they work on their PhDs, which for many are the culmination of many years of hard work and sacrifice. Considering the circumstances, it is unsurprising that many more PGRs than usual would prefer to extend their writing-up period, as without access to the Library or the labs, conducting their research was proving almost impossible.
However, according to university regulations this would come at a cost. Students wishing to extend their writing-up period would usually be charged a continuation fee of £335, and would not be able to access formal support from their supervisors during this time. Despite the current circumstances being completely outside of their control, the first thing PGRs would receive when asking for an extension would be an email setting out the costs and limitations. Unsurprisingly, this was an issue that the GSA immediately picked up on as a basic issue of fairness – without access to the facilities and resources such as staff time, what exactly is the fee paying for?
After repeatedly lobbying the University over the past two months, it brings me a great deal of joy to announce that the continuation fee has been waived for students seeking to extend their writing-up period between January 1 and October 31 2020. The removal of this financial burden on students – many of whom are facing difficult financial circumstances already due losing their incomes during the pandemic – is very much welcomed. Additionally, the restrictions on accessing staff time during extended writing-up periods has also been removed, allowing PGR students who take an extension to seek feedback from their supervisors up until they submit their final draft.
While this is undoubtedly a positive step towards minimising the cost of Covid for postgraduate research students, there is always more that can be done. Postgraduate students are charged huge sums of money for their education, and there is no good reason for them to be incurring additional costs during their programmes of study. Therefore we hope that scrapping continuation fees can be a long term change, rather than just a response to a pandemic – and that it is only one of many steps towards cutting costs for our students.
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