September 28 2021: COVID-19 update for research students

Kia ora Graduate Research Students,

I am pleased to return to my substantive role as Dean of the Graduate Research School following my secondment to the role of Interim Dean of the Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences. I look forward to being part of your research journeys going forward. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Associate Professor Nigel Harris, who took up the role of Acting Dean of the Graduate Research School in my absence, for his capable leadership and hard work over the past 18 months.

I hope this week’s update finds you well, and that the move to Alert Level 3 for those of us based in Auckland has increased your opportunities for connection and comfort in your bubbles.

Current COVID-19 Alert Levels

Auckland is currently in COVID-19 Alert Level 3, and the rest of the country is in Alert Level 2. Under Level 3 it is expected that graduate research students continue to work from home. AUT staff are also working from home, except for a small number of essential workers on campus and at student accommodation.   

You can find the latest information on COVID-19 from New Zealand’s COVID-19 information website and via AUT’s COVID-19 update page (and doctoral candidates can also access the AUTi COVID-19 intranet page). You can also find copies of our past GRS COVID-19 updates on the Student Hub Online.

Access to and use of AUT Campus Facilities Under Level 3

AUT will not be re-opening its campuses under Alert Level 3 and will only be permitting access in special circumstances (note that all your electronic access swipe cards have been temporarily disabled). Those with a particular need to conduct research activities on campus, or collect equipment or materials, can apply for permission to come onsite.  Applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis by your faculty Dean. Those granted permission to access campus will need to ensure they  meet the Tertiary Education Commission guidance, and health and safety requirements. Anyone accessing campus during Level 3 must maintain a minimum of 1 metre distance from others, wear a mask, and scan in using the COVID-19 tracer app. Face-to-face research activities should not be conducted.

Financial Hardship

COVID-19 has caused financial difficulties for many people. If you are experiencing hardship, you may be able to access financial assistance for food or transport vouchers, rent arrears payments, utilities and other living expenses, or data top up vouchers. Contact the Student Hub or make an appointment with an advisor via the AUT App to discuss your situation. Let the advisor know if your request is urgent.

Wellbeing Resources

We encourage you to take care of yourselves in these difficult times. AUT offers a range of services to support your health and wellbeing, including counselling services and ways to stay connected. These can be found on Student Hub Online. There is also a wide range of mental health and wellness resources available as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.

Online workshops and events to support your development

We continue to offer opportunities for you to upskill at all alert levels via online workshops and events.

Call for abstracts – Online Postgraduate Research Symposium: The Postgraduate Research Symposium provides an opportunity to showcase and present your research, engage with other researchers, and experience the process of applying to an academic conference. This year’s Postgraduate Research Symposium will take place online on 26 November. Those wishing to give a presentation are invited to submit an abstract by Friday 1 October.

Online workshops: A variety of workshops are being offered online to ensure you can attend no matter where you are or what alert level you’re in. Use the Postgraduate Researcher Development Planner to find the most relevant workshops for where you are now in the research journey. You can register for workshops through Elab (login with your student credentials).

Disrupted progress due to COVID-19 alert level changes

Changes to COVID-19 alert levels can make it difficult to achieve our normal research progress. If your progress is affected, we encourage you to keep an open dialogue with your supervisors so that you can identify how best to adjust your plans. We appreciate that some of you may be disrupted in your ability to meet key research milestones. Doctoral students with their PGR9 due soon can rest assured that we will be flexible with deadlines for that process. Discussions are underway around how AUT will support research students whose progress is affected by the current lockdown. Please watch our future updates for further details on that.

Heoi anō tāku mō nāianei (that is all for now). We will continue to keep you updated when there is more news to share.

Noho ora mai (stay well),

Professor/Ahorangi Mark Orams

Tumuaki, Te Kura Tāura Rangahau

Dean, Graduate Research School

About Graduate Research School (Auckland University of Technology)

The Auckland University of Technology Graduate Research School offers support and resources to all postgraduate students at AUT. Come and visit us on the 5th floor of the WU building.

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