Extensions due to the coronavirus pandemic for PhD candidates

Målgruppe: Medarbeidere Tema: Doktorgrad

This page contains guidelines for HR staff who handle extensions of PhD candidates.

Norsk versjon: Forlengelser for stipendiater

Assessment factors to help the appointment authority decide on extensions due to the coronavirus pandemic for PhD candidates employed at NTNU #

The BOTT universities (Bergen, Oslo, Tromsø and Trondheim) agree on a common position regarding extensions of the employment period for PhD candidates who experience delays due to the pandemic. It is a prerequisite that the right of admission to the programme is extended correspondingly if necessary.

The principles in the common policy of the BOTT universities are: #

  • genuine delay that is due to the pandemic will provide a basis for extension
  • the need for extension for other reasons will be treated as before

NTNU’s PhD candidates will be followed up by NTNU. PhD candidates who are employed at other institutions must discuss the issue with their own employer.

General #

An extension can be granted based on a specific and individual assessment. The appointment authority (the Dean) decides on any extension. It is a prerequisite that the coronavirus pandemic has led to such major obstacles for the candidate that an extension is necessary.

The following are regarded as major obstacles: #

  • service in the health sector
  • an order to work in the 15 areas defined as functions essential to society
  • internal redeployment, for example to teaching assignments that are not covered by the proportion of time committed to required duties
  • delayed data collection and experimental activities
  • delays related to working from home

In connection with working from home #

As far as possible, the employer must arrange for the work to take place in a home office. Even if conditions at home are not optimal, this does not in itself provide grounds for an extension. In many cases, the nature of the work, see point 3 above, will be the basis for any extension, not the home office itself.

If, due to closed kindergartens and schools, the PhD candidate has childcare responsibilities that make it impossible to work from home, an extension will be granted for all absence of more than 10 days. The provision in the regulations specifying that absence must have a continuous duration of two weeks to provide a basis for extension will be waived as long as the coronavirus situation persists.

In connection with individual and local assessment #

The assessment of whether an extension should be granted is based on the main principle that the coronavirus pandemic should not lead to significantly worse (or better) prospects for PhD candidates to complete their doctoral programme. In the overall assessment, the factors that must be emphasized include:

  • How extensive is the delay?
  • What are the implications of the delay for the completion of the PhD, and how long is it until the planned completion date?
  • The nature of the doctoral programme – is it theoretically oriented, empirically oriented and/or experimentally oriented? What access is required to laboratories, fieldwork sites, archives, premises and equipment, etc.?
  • Other exceptional circumstances that cause a genuine delay and that are outside the PhD candidate’s responsibility and control

The Government has announced a partial reopening of the universities for PhD candidates who had planned to complete their degree during the spring and who depend on the University’s equipment and infrastructure. For this group, a real delay may therefore be relatively short. For others, who had also planned to complete their degree in the near future, the delays may however be more extensive if they do not get access to necessary external arenas or sources for their work because of central and local restrictions.

In connection with the doctoral programme in terms of the study period #

The Rector asks Heads of Departments and supervisors in cooperation with the Faculty to evaluate how completion within the nominal period can be achieved for PhD candidates through adaptations of their programme. Solutions based on adaptation and adjustment of the research project, collection of data, etc. that will ensure progress without lowering academic standards must therefore be carefully considered as an alternative to extension, possibly in combination with extension.

Many PhD candidates may experience delays because data collection is delayed/comes to a halt and access to laboratories and workshops is restricted. For this group, too, adaptation of the course of study through alternative ways of securing data must be considered.

Need for extension for other reasons #

In terms of regulations and collective pay agreements, PhD candidates are entitled to an extension regardless of the coronavirus pandemic.

This applies and must be practised as usual.

Any need for an extension of the right of admission to the programme is decided by the Faculty.

Funding #

The main principle at NTNU is management within budgetary limits This means that the Faculties and the University Museum together with their departments are responsible for costs of this nature within their ordinary budgets and must consider extensions for their PhD candidates on an individual basis in accordance with NTNU’s common principles. However, Covid-19 has created an extraordinary situation at NTNU, and if this leads to unreasonable consequences for a faculty or the University Museum, the Rector may waive the principle of management within budgetary limits.

The Rector is monitoring the situation around additional costs of this nature due to the coronavirus epidemic with the Ministry of Education and Research and the Research Council of Norway as well as others who fund PhD candidates.


Regulations concerning terms and conditions of employment for the posts of postdoktor (post-doctoral research fellow), stipendiat (research fellow), vitenskapelig assistent (research assistant) and spesialistkandidat (resident) #

In essence, the Regulations have four provisions that specify legal authority for an extension for PhD candidates: #

  • Section 2-3 (1). Leave to which employees are entitled
  • Section 2-3 (2). Care of children and close family
  • Section 2-3 (3). Leave to take up short-term research and teaching posts
  • Section 2-3 (6). The appointing body may in special cases grant extension of the period of appointment owing to circumstances that have precluded the progression of the research training

In assessments of extensions due to the coronavirus pandemic, the legal grounds for extension can be combined.

In Section 7-2 last subsection of NTNU’s PhD Regulation,the maximum period of study is set at 6 years. Required duties and interruptions on legally authorized grounds are not to be included in this 6-year period. Extensions related to the coronavirus pandemic are not to be included in the period of study either. The Faculty decides on any extension of the period of study.

Decisions on extensions #

Extensions in accordance with Section 2-3 (1-3) are clearly regulated, and the PhD candidate will know that at any time in the period of study these provisions result in an extension. Other extensions are normally considered towards the end of the study period and in close cooperation with the supervisor. With regard to extensions explicitly linked to the coronavirus pandemic, they should be granted as soon as they have been finalized. The key criterion will be the date planned for completion of the study period as well as individual assessment. Candidates who had planned to complete their PhD during 2020 should as a rule get clarification before the summer holidays. Completion further in the future will normally not require a decision on an extension now.

Other extensions follow established practice.

Consistent practice versus individual assessments and judgment #

At the start of a PhD programme, the principle is that available time at the candidate’s disposal is the same for everyone – that is, at the outset everyone has the same general conditions. . During the study period, adjustments may be needed, including extensions. This is assessed and a decision is made based on an overall but individual assessment related to the progress of study and advancement of the individual candidate in relation to the provisions of the regulations. These are decisions that the appointment authority is familiar with and that should be continued regardless of the coronavirus pandemic.

Typical situations where an extension may be applicable are described below. #

1. Extension according to Section 2-3 (6) of the Regulations #

a. PhD candidates who are ordered to work in the health sector are to be granted the corresponding extension. A practical way to do this may be to grant leave in the PhD position and pay from the health sector during the period of service that has been ordered.

b. PhD candidates who are redeployed to teaching/digitalization of teaching. Are primarily taken care of by shifting the required duties component for those who have this or appointment in accordance with section 2-3 (3) of the Regulations, which entitles the candidate to the corresponding extension.

c. PhD candidates who are delayed because their research is delayed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, for example, closed laboratories, difficulties with data collection and fieldwork, disciplines in the arts, etc. Any extension is determined on the basis of a documented application and the supervisor’s assessment/recommendation – see above.

d. PhD candidates who have poor working conditions in their rented accommodation/apartment. In principle, no extension is granted. A possible extension may be considered on an individual basis towards the end of the study period according to common practice.

 

2. Extension according to Section 2-3 (1 – 3) of the Regulations #

a. PhD candidates who are at home and care for children, either single or where their spouse/partner works in critical society function, are to be granted the corresponding extension.

b. PhD candidates who are at home and care for children, and where both parents are at home, are to be granted extension for days more than ten. If care benefit days are not taken or the quota has already been used up, the possibility of an extension may be considered on an individual basis towards the end of the study period.

c. For PhD candidates who become ill from Covid-19 or other cause, an extension is granted according to the usual rules regarding the number of days on sick leave. For quarantine at home, work from home applies and no extension is granted.

See also: #

Changes in the PhD Regulations due to the coronavirus 

How to apply for extension of employment period for PhD - due to corona

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