Consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on KI’s doctoral education

[Updated 2020-08-21]

Major updates of this webpage

2020-08-21 Adaptations made to new KI recommendations, including face masks

2020-08-21 New tips regarding online supervision

2020-06-05 Review of the entire text and adaptations made to new national recommendations

2020-05-25 New section: “To perform a doctoral education during the pandemic”

We all have a responsibility to do what we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19, both at KI and in society at large. This is done by following current recommendations. Maintain physical distance to other people at all times. Stay at home if you or any member of your household have symptoms of Covid-19.

Doctoral students and supervisors find detailed information regarding how different aspects of doctoral education at KI are affected by the ongoing pandemic below. Information regarding new recommendations or decisions will be updated at this webpage continuously.

To perform a doctoral education during the pandemic

Many doctoral students will be affected in different ways by the current situation. We recommend that all doctoral students review their individual study plan with their supervisors and discuss if plans need to be revised. This applies to both the research plan, participation on courses and study-related travels. The starting position is for doctoral education to continue at KI and we must all do what we can to help solve the problems that arise.    

The Swedish Agency for Government Employers (Arbetsgivarverket) have announced that if a doctoral student, as a consequence of covid-19, has been prohibited from performing his/her tasks as a doctoral student, it should be possible to prolong the employment beyond the stated four years. It is the KI department where the doctoral student is registered that decides if a prolongation should be considered. The assessment of the individual case is done on a case-by-case basis. To consider a prolongation, a revised individual study plan must be presented, the nature and cause of the delay must be described, and a revised financing plan, approved by the supervisor, must be judged as reasonable and doable. It is important to emphasize that there is no obligation for KI to grant a prolonged employment.

Doctoral students, who perceive that the current situation is affecting their plans, are recommended to document this. Such documentation will be of help at a later stage to judge if the delay is caused by covid-19, and of circumstances the student could not control.

Tips for supervisors:

  1. Effective Practices in Supervising Doctoral Candidates at a Distance, a webinar from the UK Council for Graduate Education from the 1 May now available on YouTube.
  2. A Guide to Online Supervision – Guide for Supervisors 

Student or staff?

A doctoral student is both a researcher and a student. This could sometimes cause confusion regarding which recommendations to follow.  

It is decided that when the doctoral students are doing research, they are considered as researcher staff, and the same recommendations apply to them as to all other members of the staff. KI as a workplace during the autumn of 2020

When the doctoral student attend courses or other educational activities, they are considered as students, see below.

Courses and other educational activities

During the autumn semester theoretical doctoral courses will be given online, with a few exceptions, while practical courses and course modules that cannot be held digitally are prioritized to be held at campus.

If it is not possible, in an educational situation, to follow the recommendations of physical distancing, face masks will be recommended. In those instances, the masks will be provided at site.

Instructions for facemasks

Note that the Swedish national recommendations of physical distancing and hand wash still are the most important actions.

Participants will be informed by the course leader regarding what applies to each individual course.

Further information for course providers: 

Half-time review

The half-time seminar can either be conducted with only digital participation, at campus with a limited number of participants, or as a combination. There is no rule saying that the half-time seminar must be public.

When you decide how the half-time review is to be conducted, try to ensure that it is done in a way that most effectively fulfils its purpose: i.e. that the student has a chance to obtain feedback, that the review serves as an educational element, and that the department is informed of the student’s progress.  If you have any questions, contact your department’s director of doctoral studies. 

It is important that the half-time review is not postponed due to the pandemic! It may be even more important than usual to have an opportunity to follow-up and discuss alternative solutions if the student’s study plan has to be revised on account of the prevailing situation. 

Public defences

A public defence is a public gathering open to the public, and as such, and thus it falls under the directive from the Swedish Government that no more than 50 persons can come together in the same place. As long as there is such a limitation, the public defence must be accessible via web casts.

KI must provide a room on site for the public defence, where those who so wish can come and follow the defence. 

Until further notice, the doctoral student, opponent, examination board, supervisor and defence chair chairperson can participate digitally. 

Any changes of these recommendations will be notified well in advance. 

Important information about public defence during the coronavirus pandemic

Admission of new doctoral students

According to the ordinary process for admission of new doctoral students, decisions of admission is taken continuously when a candidate has been selected and the recruitment process is concluded - without delay.

If the doctoral student, at the time of admission, hasn’t arrived at KI or for any other reason cannot begin their doctoral studies immediately, a study start date has to be decided. No research or educational activities are performed before the starting date. Under present circumstances, the period between admission and study start might be longer than otherwise, but the admission process is the same as usual.

Please note that doctoral studies can start without the student being on site. The doctoral student can participate in activities from a distance, for example writing the individual study plan, taking doctoral courses online, preparing for the ISP seminar, theoretical studies, participating in online seminars and meetings, etc.

Travel, research visits and international conferences

Doctoral students are to observe the same guidelines on travel, research visits and international conferences as all other members of staff.  

Personal presentations at international conferences are obligatory for KI’s doctoral students. If the current Covid-19-pandemic mean that a student cannot fulfil this requirement, the doctoral student should approach the departmental director of doctoral studies and discuss how this could be solved.

KI’s travel grant for research visits for doctoral research

Owing to the limited opportunities for doctoral students to conduct planned research visits, the travelling/utilisation time for KI’s travel grants for research visits for doctoral students has been extended to 2021. This also applies for travel grants for research visits for doctoral students advertised, applied for and granted in the spring and autumn of 2019.

 If you have applied for a grant for a trip that has to be cancelled, we ask you to repay the money, although the sum granted can be used to cover any costs you may have incurred in cancelling.

Information for international doctoral students

If you need to stay longer in Sweden than originally planned or need to leave Sweden earlier: