Grad Studies Updates – COVID-19

The health and safety of our campus community is always our top priority. Please take care of yourself and those around you.

Patience on all parties is needed as we move forward during this unprecedented time. CoGS will do our best to communicate either widely or directly to relevant parties as each situation requires. We assure you that the CoGS team is committed to the best interest of student health, wellbeing, and success.

For guidelines in all matters that affect our campus community, we encourage you to monitor https://covid19.ubc.ca/ for the most recent notifications.

As an overall position, CoGS will be accommodating whenever possible. We encourage graduate programs and supervisors to adopt a similar lens of understanding.

Our objective is to ensure that all students are supported during this pandemic.

Existing Senate policies provide leeway for CoGS to respond to exceptional circumstances. Should academic progress be impacted by COVID-19, CoGS will work with a strong bias of flexibility to support our graduate students.

Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are asked to connect with their immediate supervisor and/or graduate program assistant. If confusion or uncertainty arises, please do not hesitate in contacting Jenn Jakobi, Dean pro tem, or Paul Shipley, Associate Dean.

The following are specific issues related to graduate students:

Academic Issues

The Centre for Scholarly Communication has moved to online consultations. Appointments can be made by emailing csc.ok@ubc.ca.

Comprehensive exams will move forward at the discretion of the supervisor, the program, and in consultation with the College of Graduate Studies.

Students should continue to prepare, in consultation with their supervisor and examination committee.

If access to materials or resources is impeding preparation please consult with supervisor and Graduate Coordinator to assess the intent of the comprehensive exam. Alternatives, within or extending the current guidelines, might be warranted with approval of CoGS.

Courses and assessments have moved to online/remote dissemination. We urge students to communicate with their supervisor and the instructors of courses. Approaches to courses and research will conform to the policies of the faculty and program in which they are administered.

Classroom instructors, please adhere to policy of program/faculty in which the course resides for time to progress, alternative delivery, and evaluation.  Ensure students understand any alterations in academic work and distribution of grades.

Where appropriate, a judicious use of standing deferred can be approved by the College of Graduate Studies – when warranted. The objective is for all graduate courses to be completed en par with the typical academic term.

In response to the growing concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the College of Graduate Studies has developed a process to temporarily support total remote participation in Master’s thesis defences and PhD oral examinations. Resources to support remote defences are listed below.

Remote Defence Guidelines
Remote Defence Checklist – Master’s Thesis Defence
Remote Defence Checklist – PhD Dissertation Oral Examination 

This temporary remote protocol applies for defences held on or after March 17, 2020.

Given current health concerns all examinations and defences are closed to the public.

Scheduling of Masters Thesis Defences and Doctoral Oral Examinations will proceed as per standard practice and policy.

To facilitate scheduling and documentation for future student accommodations e.g., fees or time to completion, please do not delay in sending defence scheduling paper work to gradtheses.ok@ubc.ca.

We are aware that there are extenuating circumstances that are affecting your ability to progress in your programs. We will therefore extend deadlines for milestones (e.g. candidacy) and program completion. Process details are under development. Please be reassured that justification surrounding extensions related to the pandemic are obvious.

In response to the evolving nature of COVID-19, and provincial directives regarding events and mass gatherings, UBC has made the difficult decision to postpone the in-person Spring 2020 graduation and  will also hold a virtual graduation ceremony on-line.

More information is available at: https://graduation.ok.ubc.ca/students/faq/.

All graduate research assistants (GRA) are advised to connect with the researcher who employs you, and identify job-related tasks and salary.  The researcher will be able to advise you on working remotely, the criticalness of in-person required tasks, and the approach to GRA research.

All graduate teaching assistants (GTA) and GRA contracts for the Winter 2020 Term will be honoured. GTAs will receive payment in full as per their contract.

GTAs are being asked to work remotely. If additional resources are needed for GTA work, communicate with the course instructor on how these might be made available.

GTAs should be available to support the successful completion of the undergraduate courses.  The shift in delivery mode and the need for training may require redistribution of hours between marking and lab GTAs. Please be patient and understanding and remain in online communication with the instructor and/or other GTAs.

GTAs need to connect and work directly with the course instructor. GTAs will be needed, in some but not all cases, to assist in altering the delivery mode of courses to online learning. As courses evolve, evaluation will also, and flexibility in the type of work (marking compared with lab/tutorial/studio instruction) will be needed. Please communicate concerns, successes, and ideas to the course instructor to better facilitate this new learning format.

If you are ill, or become ill, remain at home and notify the course instructor/researcher immediately.  You are not required to work when ill.

GRAs/GTAs who are not ill but are required to self-isolate should continue to complete their duties remotely, as feasible.

If you have any questions that cannot be addressed by the course instructor, your supervisor, or the relevant department head please contact Dean Jakobi.

Leaves of absence are feasible and may be necessary for some. Leaves come with certain restrictions, and thus we encourage careful consideration of other options (eg., bursaries, changes in living situations, etc.) alongside consideration of this approach.

CoGS has connected directly with graduate program coordinators that have international students who were intending to arrive in May.  We are highly recommending a delay in program start until September 2020.  If Program Coordinators have not heard directly from CoGS or a delay in start date is impossible, please connect with Dean Jakobi immediately.  All letters of offer will remain, the only element of change will be the start date.

The standard deadline of June 1 for progress reports is extended this year until July 2, 2020.

CoGS will gladly receive reports earlier to assist in student progression, tracking, and verification of University Graduate Fellowship (UGF) eligibility.

On March 19, the university announced it was curtailing on-campus research activities at UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan. This curtailment is currently in effect until the end of April, and will be reassessed at that time. To continue research activities on our campuses, researchers must receive an exemption to be classified as critical research or maintaining critical research resources.

The university research community continues to monitor and work towards methods to mitigate the impact of research curtailment on faculty, staff and students. A campus working group is evaluating this issue to best assist in academic degree progression as well as research advancement. Updates will be offered as soon as available.

We continue to receive and process admissions as they come forward. This will be prioritized after the needs of our current students, as we hope you can appreciate.

If you have questions about September admissions please email gradask.ok@ubc.ca.

On March 16, UBC embarked on a three-week pilot for Remote Work Arrangements for faculty, staff, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and student employees who are able to work remotely.

The situation regarding COVID-19 and the need for physical distancing has not yet eased, and is even more important now. In light of this, Remote Work Arrangements are in effective until the end of April.  This will be reassessed at the end of April.

Financial Information

We are working towards options. While nothing has been firmly defined, we will keep you informed as measures are taken. The Faculty Deans and Senior Executive are diligently considering many needs and approaches. We can reassure you of the following.

Student Emergency Bursaries are under development. Monitor the CoGS website for details as these become available.

If you are experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 situation, please explore Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

Major university-wide multi-year scholarships will continue to be paid throughout the eligibility period.

UBC Okanagan continues to monitor and work to additional solutions and supports for graduate students for summer 2020. The assessment of fees is necessary to ensure benefits associated with registration continues (health insurance, remote/online campus resources and student employment opportunity as they come available). Because of this Tuition and Student fees for Summer Term 1 will be assessed following the normal timelines, but the due date has been extended to June 15th 2020 without penalty.

Student Support

Indigenous students looking for services and support can find initial direction through web resources to connect remotely with members of Aboriginal Program and Services https://students.ok.ubc.ca/aboriginal-students/.

We know many of our international graduate students have questions. Our partners at IPS have responded to this pandemic with a number of resources.

FAQs for international students have been developed and are available at https://students.ok.ubc.ca/international-students/covid19/. These will be updated as new information becomes available.

IPS has also moved to online appointments using Skype and Zoom. You can book an appointment with IPS by emailing ips.ubco@ubc.ca.

Additionally, online workshops are being offered by IPS to support students. Students are being notified of all online workshops through social media and direct emails.

For any questions about your studies, you can reach Marissa and Sara at gradask.ok@ubc.ca.

For questions about your application, you can reach Aperrna, Caitlin, Laura and Michelle at gradadmissions.ok@ubc.ca.

For questions about thesis defence or doctoral examination scheduling, you can reach Damien at gradtheses.ok@ubc.ca

For questions about awards, you can reach Nathan at graduateawards.ok@ubc.ca.

Professional Development

UBC Okanagan’s Career Advising has both online career advising and group sessions with an advisor available.

Events and workshops are being transitioned to an online format. CoGS’ Events and Workshops page will be updated as these become available.

Wellbeing

The Psychology Clinic at UBC (Okanagan campus) is closed to all in–person assessment and treatment services to comply with COVID-19 recommendations.

In an effort to continue providing services to existing clients, and to remain open to new referrals, the Psychology Clinic has transitioned to delivering psychotherapy by video connection.

Videotherapy is through a secure platform that ensures privacy and confidentiality, and at the same time, offers an alternative during this unprecedented time where in-person psychotherapy is not available through The Psychology Clinic at UBCO.

Referrals to The Psychology Clinic can be made by contacting the clinic by e-mail – ipc.ok@ubc.ca or phone – 250-807-8241 (press 1 for reception). The phone and e-mail will be checked throughout the day by the receptionist who will connect with you to answer any questions and/or to arrange an appointment.

The Student Health Clinic is offering remote teleservice. If you need a physician or nurse call 250-807-9270.