Research Student Handbook

Registration, Induction, Attendance, Change of Status and Annual Leave

The University regulates the amount of time that students have to complete their studies, according to the type of qualification being sought and whether students are full or part time. The University also recognises that students may need to interrupt their studies for a variety of reasons, and that they may need to apply for extensions etc. All of this is governed by the University's framework of regulations of research students.

The University expects that students will make good progress on their research and writing, and progress is monitored by a series of mechanisms. Only registered students may have access to the facilities of the University, including supervision. Each student is given a Registration Status that reflects the qualification they are registered for, their ‘mode of attendance’ (full time, part time, continuation status, off/on campus) and other circumstances. Registration is automatically terminated when the maximum period of study has been reached.

You should aim to submit your research thesis around six to twelve months before your maximum period of study or at the end of your funded period so that you can complete your research programme within the maximum period of study.  Please note that different periods of study apply to students registered on ‘by Publication’ Programmes.  “Completion” means you have been examined, and completed any minor or major corrections to the satisfaction of your examiner.

Your target submission date and your completion date can be found on MyPGR.  The target submission date is by default set at the end of your 3rd year of full-time equivalent study (MPhil/PhD students) or the end of your 2nd year of full-time equivalent study (MbyRes students). This date cannot be altered. Whilst you are registered on a Masters by Research or an MPhil the target submission date and completion date will be the same, but your completion date will be extended if/when you successfully upgrade to a PhD. You should discuss your personal target submission date with your supervisory team at the outset of your programme as part of your overall timeline for your research. You should make sure that your discussions take into account your individual financial circumstances (e.g. how would you cover your living costs if you have not submitted once your studentship funding has finished?) and has sufficient contingency time built in for unforeseen circumstances.

The Postgraduate Research Office runs 2 induction sessions for students with essential information on getting started on their research programme in September and January. Details of these are available on the Induction Section.  An online version of the Induction to the College is also available for Distance-based Students and students starting at a different time of the year.

If you are a campus-based research student you will be expected to be present on campus throughout the University’s official three terms. You are expected to work full-time on your research for at least 44 weeks of the year, and part-time students equivalent to 22 weeks. Absence from the campus should be discussed with your supervisor(s).

Students who are distance-based are encouraged to spend some time in the University during your research and writing to experience the research culture of the University and to access any required training as agreed with your supervisor. You are expected to work full-time on your research for at least 44 weeks of the year, and part-time students equivalent to 22 weeks.

International students with Tier 4 visas should note that attendance monitoring is a statutory requirement of the Points Based visa system and unauthorised absence from 10 compulsory academic activities will be reported to the UK Immigration and Visas and will result in termination of your student visa. The University has a duty to inform the authorities if a student is away from campus without agreement.

There are occasions when students wish to change the status of their registration in order to respond to changes in personal circumstances. The Postgraduate Support Office will consider all such requests and facilitate such changes where appropriate. Information can be accessed from the University’s Changes to Study webpages and the Statement of Procedures on periods of study permitted for research degrees are accessible below:

Statement of Procedures: Periods of Registration and Changes to Registration Status for Graduate Research Students

Full-time to Part-Time (and Vice Versa)

Requests to change from Full to Part Time (or vice versa) will be considered by the Postgraduate Research Office on their merits. In some cases, we might also recommend changes if we think they are to your benefit.

The permitted part-time registration is 0.5 fte (full-time equivalent). Requests to change status may not be made more frequently than at six month intervals, without an exceptional case being made.

International students only

Tier 4 visa holders will be required to apply for a new Tier 4 visa before switching to full-time or part-time mode of attendance. Students considering changing their mode of attendance should discuss the immigration implications of this change with an International Student Adviser and should be aware that a switch to part-time in particular means a more restrictive visa. All requests from international students to change their mode of attendance to full-time or part-time must be signed off by a member of the International Student Support Office.

 

Interruption

An interruption of your studies means a complete cessation of academic work for a specified period usually granted when a student is suffering from severe personal or other difficulties which make it impossible for you to continue with your research. Fees are not payable during this period and the period does not count towards the timeframe for the completion of your degree. If you would benefit for such a period then please discuss the matter with your Supervisor or Pastoral Tutor and complete the Interruption Form which is found in MyPGR. The International Student Support Office interview and sign off forms for students who wish to interrupt their studies. Approval for an interruption of study is given by the College Director of Postgraduate Research on the recommendation of your supervisor. Once your interruption has been approved you will receive an email confirming your new programme end date.

Maternity/Paternity/Shared Parental/Adoption Leave – if you need to take leave of this kind, the University has a policy on this.

>Advice for funded students

 

Withdrawal

International Students only: Withdrawal is always a difficult choice, but for international students it can also have serious immigration implications of which students are often not aware. The immigration rules are not lenient, and very rarely make allowances for compassionate circumstances. It is vital that international students are aware of the ramifications of their decision before it is finalised, and understand what actions they must take after the withdrawal to ensure that they are allowed to study in the UK in the future. It is a requirement of the Immigration Office that only authorised University personnel in the International Student Support Office interview and sign off forms for students who wish to withdraw from their studies.

You are permitted to withdraw from your programme of study at any time and for any reason, but any fees or fines that you have outstanding must still be paid. Once you withdraw from a programme, your registration is terminated, and you cease to be a student of the University. If you are considering withdrawal from study due to adverse personal circumstances you should ensure that you have first considered interrupting your studies instead. To help the University understand the reasons for your withdrawal, and to formally tell the University about your decision to withdraw, you are asked to complete a PGR Withdrawal Form. Each section of the form should be completed in the order it is listed on the form.

Once all parties have signed the form, the College should write to you and a copy of the form and letter will be sent to the Postgraduate Administration Office to update your record. You can still apply to be re-registered at a later time, with the approval of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of College and the Dean of the Graduate Research Faculty, so withdrawal does not necessarily mean that you must give up your studies forever. To apply for re-registration you will have to produce a work plan and timetable of submission.

 

Extension of Study

Research Council Students only: AHRC and ESRC students, who require an extension to their submission date, must submit an application to cles-pgr-support@exeter.ac.uk or Cornwall-pgr@exeter.ac.uk. Applications must be received 3 months before the submission deadline date and will be forward to the AHRC or ESRC for approval. Applications should be supported in writing by the supervisor and be fully supported by medical evidence if the request is based on an illness. If you are funded by BBSRC, EPSRC, MRC, NERC and STFC, you should be aware that the approval of the Research Council should be sought before seeking the approval of the University. Requests for approval must be sent to: cles-pgr-support@exeter.ac.uk  or cornwall-pgr@exeter.ac.uk. Please refer to Terms and Conditions of Research Council Training Grants (this link does not apply to ESRC and AHRC)

Extensions to the maximum period of study are only granted in very exceptional circumstances and must be approved by the Director of Postgraduate Research. 

In cases of illness, excessive personal, work or other commitments, or other difficult circumstances it is expected that the you and College will follow the advice on Interruption of Studies. In the case of problems with your research, you are expected to have built in a time allowance for addressing for problems and as such failure to do so will not normally be sufficient grounds for an extension. If you have not done so, it is unlikely that an extension of registration will be permitted. Where necessary, an extension may be granted in concert with issuing a warning under the ‘Unsatisfactory Student Progress and Engagement: Code of Good Practice’: An application for an extension will normally result in action being taken under the ‘Unsatisfactory Student Progress and Engagement: Code of Good Practice.

If you wish to apply for an extension you may do so by completing the Extension Form. You are required to submit an outline of work completed and a work-plan and schedule for completion of the remaining parts.  If your request is approved your College will write to you to confirm the new submission deadline for your thesis/dissertation.

 

Continuation Status

A move to Continuation Status is not an automatic right for a student, however, all students are encouraged to apply to transfer at the appropriate point in their studies. Continuation Status is granted on the basis of a decision by the College that the student:

  1. no longer requires normal levels of supervision;
  2. will not undertake any significant additional research;
  3. will be expected to make minimal use of University resources (see also the ‘Code of Good Practice - Supervision of Postgraduate Research Students’).

A move to Continuation Status is not an automatic right for a student, but only granted on the basis of a decision by the College that the student requires less frequent supervision. (i.e. is now in the process of 'writing up'), and will be expected to submit within 12 months. Supervisors are expected to keep in contact with students and respond to reasonable requests for assistance, although students who have transferred to continuation status will be expected to require more limited contact from their supervisory team.

Students may be permitted to transfer to Continuation Status where the College is able to assure itself that the student has completed their research and will not undertake any significant additional research. Such students are considered to be writing-up their thesis, and are not charged normal full-time or part-time fees. Students on Continuation Status are not returned in the Research Activity Survey, and therefore do not attract quality-related research (QR) funding. Academic grounds are the primary consideration; however students who have transferred to continuation status will be expected to make minimal use of University resources.

 

You will need to discuss a potential transfer to Continuation Status with your supervisor(s) and if s/he agrees this is appropriate you will need to complete the request to transfer to Continuation Status Form which you will find in MyPGR .

Transfer to continuation status is not an automatic right as it is dependent upon your progress. The Statement of Procedures on transferring to continuation status is accessible from the link below.

Statement of Procedures: Periods of Registration and Changes to Registration Status for Graduate Research Students.

 

International Students who are Tier 4 visa holders only: Students should be aware that should a period of leave be followed or preceded by a period of interruption the International Student Support Office may be required to report their absence from their studies to the Home Office.

It is important that students take time out from their studies for a break in order to maintain an appropriate work/life balance. Periods of study for research degrees are calculated with an allowance for periods of annual leave during the registration period, as such taking a period of annual leave does not alter the end date of research programmes.

You are entitled to take up to 8 weeks of annual leave a year, pro-rata for students studying on a part-time basis, inclusive of public holidays and University closure days, and are encouraged to make full use of this entitlement.

You are expected to take active steps to manage your studies, to not take more than four weeks of leave at a time, and to take due consideration to the timing and management of any periods of leave to ensure that it does not impact on your studies or upon maintaining regular contact with your supervisory team. As such, you must discuss in advance absence for periods of leave with your supervisory team. You must also ensure that you comply with any requirements of your funding body with regard to taking leave. Annual leave should be taken in the calendar year in which it is accrued.