On Wednesday (15 April), we received a draft Senate paper from the Doctoral College on granting three-month fee free extension to final year doctoral students. SU Senate members then provided a thorough consultation response to the University based on the draft paper. We then expressed at the Senate meeting on 22 April that the three-month fee-free extension should be available for all doctoral students, and here is the statement Jiani, SU Postgraduate Officer, made in Senate:
The SU has provided comments on this paper to the author of the paper and Jeremy (Pro-Vice-Chancellor International & Doctoral), and we would like to also share our comments and concerns with Senate. While we appreciate the University recognising the difficulties faced by our doctoral student community at this time, we are very concerned that this is only providing extensions to a sub-set of that community.
There will be doctoral students not in their final year who may be significantly impacted by Covid-19 due to not being able to access labs for experiments or to collect data during this time. The paper outlines that if any (non-final year) student feels they need an extension they can submit a request in the normal way, but then they will have to pay fees for the extra time and not benefit from the fee waiver which is proposed for final years. If their extension is up to three months, then this blanket extension will have benefited them very much.
There is no explanation in the paper as to the reasons given by Gold Emergency Management Team not to grant this extension to all doctoral students and to limit it just to final year doctoral students.
We have seen that KCL has already granted all doctoral students a 3 months’ extension and we feel that has now set a benchmark for the rest of the sector to uphold.
By not offering the automatic extension of 3 months to all doctoral students we believe that this will cause more concern, dissatisfaction and queries from non-final year doctoral students and therefore strongly urge the University to reconsider this.
How the University handles this situation will also have a significant impact on future recruitment. Prospective doctoral candidates who are considering Bath will look at how universities have been supporting their doctoral community during this unprecedented time, and compare Bath with other institutions.
This statement prompted a lengthy discussion, with many Senators supporting our stance.