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The University of Southampton
Doctoral College

Communication from Prof Chris Howls, Director of the Doctoral College

18 March 2020

Dear Doctoral Researchers,

These are extraordinary times. All of us at the University of Southampton and in Doctoral College and Faculty Graduate Schools know how significant your commitment to your doctoral research is.

Under such extraordinary circumstances the University has been diligently working to continue to support you. It has established a Business Continuity Committee that meets twice per day to monitor the situation and coordinate response plans.

For now, we may need to change the way we work for the next few months. These are precautionary measures that will hopefully minimise the overall disruption in the longer term. 

We strongly recommend that you continue to engage with your research wherever possible (I recognise this might not be unilaterally possible) and to continue to undertake supervision, most likely now, remotely. You should also now discuss with your supervisory team the best way to make progress over the coming months in a safe way. This might involve a move to prioritising tasks that could be accomplished from home and/or a change of emphasis in the project. 

Guidance for research students is now available on the Doctoral College webpages. I am urging you to read carefully the information on these pages. The advice will continue to be updated, but due to the speed of events, please do check back regularly. Please, also keep checking the University COVID-19 (coronavirus): information and guidance webpage. Colleagues in the VISAS team have published advice for research students who are studying in the UK on a Visa. Whether you are on campus or not, where possible you should still retain access to library and other online software. Details of how to access this can be found on the iSolutions webpages.

The University has several mechanisms to continue to support you. The Student Life team is dedicated to supporting student wellbeing and enhancing the student experience. They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can be reached by calling +44(0)23 8059 8180 or emailing at  If you have questions about your research project, your doctoral progression, or any other query related to your doctoral programme, please contact your supervisor and/or Faculty Graduate School, details of which may be found below. Please also keep a watch out for posts on the Doctoral College Facebook and Twitter accounts.  

If you are working at home, it is important to establish a regular routine and to balance work with other activities. I have found the advice in this blog post to be quite sensible. Do also make time to keep in touch with friends and family. Remember when doing so to follow advice from Public Health England. On a personal note, my own daughter is currently away at University and we are talking online now more regularly than we ever did before!

We are doing everything we can to support your continued progress in these challenging times.

Please do stay safe.

Professor Chris Howls

Director of the University of Southampton Doctoral College

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