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The University of Southampton
Doctoral College

Important further update for PGRs: Returning to campus in 2021

6 January 2021

Dear Doctoral Researchers

First, the Doctoral College would like to wish you all a Happy New Year!

Understandably, given the announcement from the Prime Minister on Monday declaring the beginning of a new national lockdown, we all probably feel that this is not the start to the new year that we would have wished for.

The University is rapidly working through the implications of the new Government regulations and further announcements will be forthcoming over the next few days. We may not have the answers to questions immediately but will be in touch with you as soon as we do.

The Vice Chancellor has announced:

“With full support from Government, our COVID-secure laboratories will remain open so we can continue with our important research. As with the first lockdown, some essential staff and those who for various reasons cannot work from home are permitted to travel to work. The Government is rightly setting the bar high on these exemptions, and so must we. We will be able to provide greater clarity at School and Directorate level over the coming days.”

The details of which University buildings will be open (not just laboratories) and who will be permitted in them are being worked through at the moment.

In the meantime, in line with the default Government regulations, if you are able to continue to work at your residence (whether local to the Southampton region or remotely) you should do so, pending further announcements. Please maintain close contact with your supervisors to ensure that you can plan your project work accordingly.

We're aware you may have questions around lockdown and what this means to you including questions about access to labs/campus, COVID-19 testing and travelling. We're working quickly to put together your frequently asked questions, and will email you further details as soon as we can.

We understand that as a result of the closure of primary and secondary schools, until at least February half-term, some of you may now have added responsibilities of childcare or home-schooling. Some of you may be facing added carer responsibilities, as well as having concerns over how the increased social isolation will affect your wellbeing.

The Doctoral College will keep you informed about University-wide announcements affecting PGRs. If you need to, please do reach out to us at the Doctoral College, to your Faculty Graduate Schools and to the 24/7 support offered by the University Student Support Hub. We will endeavour to address your concerns as soon as possible and we thank you for bearing with us during these challenging times.

We should focus on the fact that, unlike in the first lockdown, there are now vaccines available. The rollout of these over the next few months offers us all a hope for a return to some (if not new) degree of normality later in 2021.

With best wishes

The Doctoral College

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