DD Unable to Finish Dissertation amid Corona Crisis

(16 Posts)
HarrietsweetHarriet Tue 24-Mar-20 13:14:06

Very concerned for DD who is in final year at the RAU in Cirencester. Her dissertation involves regular external sample collection which she then has to input into a special computer within the university to compile statistical data essential in order to reach conclusions which form part of her diss. It's too late in the day for her to start a whole new diss at this point. Uni are so far not providing any guidance other than that they will organise on-line lectures (many have already been missed), that exams will be on-line and to "carry on" with dissertations. DD is currently home as unwell physically, plus acute anxiety over whether or not she will even be able to graduate this year, how her final grade may suffer, plus worries over possibly having to repeat the year and incurring another year's worth of student debt. If anyone else's DC is in the same situation, please share any guidance they've been given by their university. With the latest govt. guidance as at 23/03 re non-essential travel etc I can't see how DD can continue to gather the samples and data she needs. I'm very concerned about uni students' wellbeing and mental health at this point due to lack of transparent information. Clear guidance re GCSE and A levels but very much lacking from universities it seems.

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ErrolTheDragon Tue 24-Mar-20 13:50:18

I think the universities are each independent institutions and they're still figuring out what to do. And research project type of work will be more specific than that.
I'd have thought your DD would need to contact whoever is supervising her dissertation- does she have their email address?

DoctorDoctor Tue 24-Mar-20 13:55:57

Has she formally requested an extension? I would do that asap through the university's usual procedure for this. I would imagine it would be hard for them to decline that request under the circumstances.
As Errol says, universities each have their own policy and approach to this but many of them are agreeing alternative assessments and later deadlines as we speak. It may not have been announced yet because it's being thrashed out in meetings. I would be patient - they will need to be flexible. All universities will.

HarrietsweetHarriet Tue 24-Mar-20 14:48:51

Thanks Errol and Doctor. She has sent emails to various people within the uni including her most regular tutor, currently waiting for responses. I appreciate they must be inundated at this time but the uncertainty of it all is really distressing. I do appreciate she's not alone in this. I think once DD has received a response to her emails, if she doesn't get a positive response, she will then apply for an extension.

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FlockofGulls Thu 26-Mar-20 09:16:03

If anyone else's DC is in the same situation, please share any guidance they've been given by their university

As Errol says, each university will be offering their own guidance. She needs to be patient.

I'm in daily touch online with my dissertation students either by email or on our remote face to face platform. But I'm also getting a lot of emails from students saying "Oh I don't read my emails." hmm

Please ensure she has read her university emails and understands arrangements. Or that she goes to her university website and looks for "Corona virus" arrangements. It should be everywhere on her university's web pages.

At my place, we have put in unprecedented arrangements for extensions, mitigations, and deferrals, as well as a "no detriment" policy for assessments after a particular date. But not all places will be doing this.

The main difficulty I have found is students simply not reading my emails or not paying attention.

If she's currently unwell, then she needs to flag that up in the usual way. Again, our students do a self-certification form, and for the last few years that has been electronic. So she should do this in whatever way is usual for her institution. There will be standard guidance in her student handbook.

(Again, my frustration is that my students don't take any notice of all the ways we offer for information & support!)

Hope she feels better soon.

ClerkMaxwell Thu 26-Mar-20 09:54:52

HarrietsweetHarriet there are statistical techniques to help mitigate missing data. Would be happy to suggest something or even run the analysis for her if she can't access uni software (I work from home as a statistician). PM me if you think thus would be useful.

TooDamnSarky Thu 26-Mar-20 10:06:53

There are unfortunate delays in getting info to students in most unis. This is because those of us dealing with students in individual departments are having to wait to make sure that out proposals are compliant with overall uni policies that are being drawn up to make sure that all students are being treated equitably. People are working really hard behind the scenes but this is a massive amount of work that will take time to fully resolve.

That said our guidance to project students was released late last week so I'm surprised that she hasn't heard anything.

Also remember that many uni staff are tying to sort this out while also juggling childcare responsibilities.


FlockofGulls Thu 26-Mar-20 11:54:35

What @TooDamnSarky says. We held off with a lot of internal arrangements which we'd decided in a looooong meeting early last week, in order to make sure they were compliant with the overall University advice.

And the senior management at my place (a Russell Group place) were also checking with other RG universities, to ensure there was a modicum of equivalence across the board.

I have to say, my university's senior management have been superb! They're usually just beating us with sticks, but they've responded to this crisis in ways that are far more humane than I'd ever expected.

VadenuRewetje Thu 26-Mar-20 15:33:35

If the word wasn't completely unpredictable at the moment and the situation was just her - ie. an individual undergoing some crisis that means they have to suspend studies (e.g. pregnancy/birth, cancer treatment, bereavement, or being a researcher specialising in a study which involves travelling to a part of the world where there is currently a war) then there is a set process that will already be there in the University's regulations. That will say something like: If she can't do any of her work during a temporary crisis, then she should ask for her registration to be suspended (so no fees would be due). With registration suspended she would be free to get a job to earn some money while the crisis passes or otherwise apply for benefits (with registration suspended she won't be a student and will qualify for things she wouldn't get as a registered student). Then when the crisis is past she can re-activate her registration.

However, that's what happens when it's just one person. The processes to agree them are not designed for an entire cohort to do it simultaneously!

Kuponut Fri 27-Mar-20 12:33:34

She needs to find the extenuating circumstances forms - however supportive the staff are, they can't formally defer a deadline until they're submitted. I've had to defer some of my stuff to protect my mental health and we have some on my course who are in a similar situation to your daughter in that we need specific software to complete an element of our assignments for the year (thankfully most of us had done that element before chaos descended).

I applied to extend some work a couple of days ago and it was granted today - so they are pushing through as quickly as they can, and my lot at least have relaxed the evidence they're requiring (I was tempted to attach a link to a news bulletin).

HarrietsweetHarriet Fri 27-Mar-20 14:29:09

Thank you all for your responses and especially ClerkMaxwell (I will make my DD aware of your offer and may take you up on it).
DD has received the guidance issued by the Dept of Education on 26/03 which this does not mention dissertations specifically but includes this paragraph:


I am very aware that many of you will be worried about what this means for final exams.

The Office for Students will produce guidance shortly on practical you can complete your studies whilst ensuring quality and standards are maintained. This will cover teaching, continued learning and assessment during this difficult time.

It is important that providers support you and enable you to leave with qualifications that have real value and that reflects your hard work and allow you to progress. I can assure you that we are working closely with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) to ensure this happens.

DD's diss supervisor has told her to leave the diss to one side for the time being and concentrate on finishing other assignments and he will reassess the situation in a week or so's time, in line with govt. guidance given at that time.

DD is feeling a lot better, thanks, now she's been at home for week and had some TLC and good food!

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FlockofGulls Fri 27-Mar-20 18:53:23

Glad that she's had some specific advice, and also advice from her tutor.

Kuponut Sat 28-Mar-20 07:27:33

I'm finding, now I've tracked down the exact process, that the uni are very quick in deferring stuff if needs be. I put in requests near the start of this week and have had them all through already.

graciecoffee Fri 03-Apr-20 16:30:53

Can only extend sympathies - my DD at Reading uni is in same situation. Expected to complete dissertation but method and location of research impossible due to Corona virus. They seem to have been thrown under a bus by Reading.

VivaLeBeaver Fri 03-Apr-20 16:33:51

Our university are doing a “safety net” for all students. Any end of year assessments no student will get a grade less than their Average grade. I assume that counts for dissertations.

HarrietsweetHarriet Thu 09-Apr-20 12:21:15

The RAU have just agreed a "no detriment" policy but DD is still awaiting guidance on how to finish her dissertation plus she has, I think, 3 outstanding modules where she's had no lectures all year. Materials arrived yesterday for an assignment where the deadline was last week. Still waiting for lectures to be put online. So far just a 2 week extension on assignments has been granted. The uni has talked about doing an assessment but has also said they expect all outstanding modules and assignments to be completed so mixed messages. One thing the uni has been very clear on is that it won't agree to any refund of student fees!

Graciecoffee - I'm really sorry your DD at Reading is also experiencing difficulties.

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