COVID-19 information for graduate research students

The Graduate Research School is receiving a range of questions related to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. We've tried to address the important questions and issues that are emerging for you as graduate research students.

We will continue to update this with additional information as it becomes available.

Student services and learning support

AUT offers a range of support services to help you through this challenging situation, including counselling services and ways to stay connected while you're studying from home.

How to stay well and connected

Want to request support?

Fill in the form below if you need support or financial assistance.

Complete the COVID-19 request for support form

StudyLink support

StudyLink may also be able to help with urgent or unexpected costs, including having to pay for something urgently, an unexpected bill or a personal emergency.

StudyLink website

AUT has provided online learning resources and other information available for graduate research students. This includes webinars, online workshops via Zoom, video resources and online research drop ins.

Online resources

Register with Thesislink, AUT’s Research blog and stay up to date with posts on useful tips for all researchers and postgraduate students.


Specialist support is available from the Library for all researchers at AUT.

  • Access a wide range of information resources and develop research ideas
  • Discover possible research grants
  • Manage your research data
  • Manage references
  • Develop a publication strategy
  • Archive research outputs
  • Maximise research impact

Visit the Library Support for Researchers website for more information.

Library  website

The online Library is also available for you where you can get help via Library Chat.

Online Library website

There will be limited access to AUT facilities under alert level 2 for students who don’t have a suitable study space or a computer or internet.

Frequently asked questions for current students].

Applying to access campus

If access to a campus facility is crucial for your work, you can apply for permission to access a campus building/facility via the following process:

  1. Request access via your primary supervisor. You will need to demonstrate the reasons why returning to a campus building/facility is essential for your work as a graduate research student.
  2. Your primary supervisor, if they support your request, will need to seek approval from their relevant head of school (or line manager). The ultimate authority to approve requests sits with the relevant faculty dean.
  3. If your request to access a campus building/facility is approved, you then need to fill out the AUT On-site Access Request Form] (note this applies both for a once only access, including picking up equipment, and approval for ongoing access). You need to complete this form in order for AUT to meet our contact tracing obligations under alert level 2 conditions.
  4. The AUT Estates/Security department will then contact you with instructions on how to arrange your visit(s) to campus.
  5. Before coming on campus download the AUT mobile app and “tag in-and-out” of all spaces on campus, by scanning the QR code at key access points . You can download the AUT app from the AppleStore or Google Play onto your smartphone.

Protocols for social distancing (minimum of one metre from others), maximum of groups of 10 people, hygiene (e.g. frequent hand washing; coughing/sneezing into your elbow; no sharing of equipment/work stations without appropriate cleaning) must be strictly followed when on campus (or elsewhere).

International students and students overseas

Immigration New Zealand has advised that all international students who have a student or interim visa with an expiry date of 2 April to 9 July 2020 inclusive, and who are in New Zealand on 2 April 2020, will have their visas automatically extended to 25 September 2020. Confirmation of extensions will be emailed to all visa holders.

Current student visa holders who are not in New Zealand are not currently permitted to enter New Zealand.

For new students who have been issued a student visa and who are not in New Zealand and have deferred their studies until later in the year or 2021, your current student visa will remain valid.

Contact the Graduate Research School at for visa related enquiries if you are enrolled in a doctoral or Master of Philosophy programme.

Contact your faculty postgraduate office for visa related enquiries if you are enrolled in a master’s research programme.

Faculty postgraduate contacts

For more information about visa queries go to the Immigration New Zealand website.

Student visa COVID-19 information

Any postgraduate research students “stuck” overseas and unable to return to New Zealand should notify their primary supervisor and the Graduate Research School. You should also liaise with your supervisors about exploring other options to continuing your progress with your research. More information is provided under the ‘Managing your candidature’ section.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) have advised that they will not be cancelling any visas, including doctoral students who will be out of New Zealand for more than three months (or those who have gone beyond the university policy of three months suspension in any 12 month period).

For more information visit the Immigration New Zealand website.

Immigration New Zealand website

Tuition fees, financial support and scholarships

We are receiving an increasing number of indications that some of you are struggling financially. For many of you, part-time casual employment opportunities have dramatically decreased and this income is important to meet living expenses (rent, food etc). There are financial support options available:

  1. Financial hardship grant: AUT’s Student Hub manages a short-term financial hardship grant which can be made available via application for deserving students. Graduate research students (domestic and international) are eligible to apply. For more specific advice and information of potential sources of financial support for students please email:
  2. NZ citizens and residents: “Kiwis” have a range of government support available to them via Work and Income/ Te Hiranga Tangata. These include such things as help with living expenses and other forms of financial support.
  3. International students: All international students studying at New Zealand universities are required to hold a valid student visa issued by Immigration New Zealand. This visa requires applicants to demonstrate that they personally have a minimum of NZD15,000 per annum to help cover their living expenses while in New Zealand. It is expected that international students utilise these financial resources to meet their living expenses. Also see point 1 above.
    It is worthwhile noting that the New Zealand Government COVID-19 Wages Subsidy Scheme does include international students working in New Zealand where their employer has accessed this scheme.

AUT has approved the enrolment of current graduate research project/dissertation/thesis students (who are enrolled in a research project, dissertation or thesis paper of 30 points or greater in March/April 2020) into a COVID-19 extension paper for a maximum period of up to 90 days from the expiration of their current research project/dissertation/thesis enrolment paper.

Students will not have to pay tuition fees for this extended enrolment.

Detailed information about the extended enrolment

  • The enrolment into an up to maximum three-month (90 day) tuition fees free paper (equivalent to your currently enrolled [research project/dissertation|]/thesis paper]) will occur on completion of your current enrolment at the request of your primary supervisor.
  • You should work with your supervisors in amending your timelines for submitting your research project/dissertation/thesis for assessment/examination.
  • Your primary supervisor needs to approve and submit the extension request (and time-frame) to your Faculty Postgraduate Office (FPO). They do this by sending an email to the FPO in the two weeks prior to your current research project, dissertation or thesis paper enrolment ending.
  • All AUT services (eg supervision, library, laboratory, ICT services, computing work-station) will remain available (within the COVID-19 alert level permissions) to you over this extension paper enrolment period.
  • Current AUT funded doctoral scholarship students may apply to have their scholarship extended for the period of their enrolment extension. These applications must be made via the AUT Scholarships Office and will be considered on a case-by-case basis. An application form will be made available next week.
  • International students are still obligated to pay for their compulsory health insurance over any extension period.

Current holders of doctoral scholarships (AUT Doctoral Scholarship and Vice-Chancellor’s Doctoral Scholarships) are still being paid their scholarship stipends over this Alert Level 4 period.

If, due to COVID-19, a doctoral scholarship recipient has had their ability to progress their research compromised for a period of more than four weeks, they may apply for an extension to their scholarship at the end of their scholarship tenure. Please also ensure that you specify this and provide details in your regular progress report (PGR8). These extensions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Candidature, presentations and examinations

Many research students have been able to work with their supervisors to adjust their plans and continue to progress. Inevitably, many research students’ progress will be affected by COVID-19, and some may be severely disrupted.

For those students who are disrupted and unable to progress, an application for an extension to current timelines and milestones may be needed. Because we are unsure about the duration of the disruption at this point, students are encouraged to delay completing and submitting an application for an extension (PGR6 Variation of Record form) until the length and implications of the disruption are known. Please provide details of disruptions to your progress on your regular PGR8 Progress Report.

There will be no penalties imposed for lack of progression due to COVID-19. All candidates are encouraged to revisit their plans and timelines in partnership with their supervisors and to revise these plans and timelines as needed.

Liaise with your supervisors and seek their advice on your options. You may, for example, be able to change the order of your work tasks and spend the next few weeks writing draft chapters of your thesis/exegesis (or sections of your paper). You may be able to amend your plans for data-gathering to allow you to collect data via remote means or by using ICT (eg interviews via Zoom or via telephone). Explore what is possible and adapt your plans accordingly. You should note these changed plans and any implications for your candidature progression in your regular progress reports or via variation of record or other relevant progression and change of status forms. Extensions can be granted retrospectively.

Postgraduate forms

Doctoral students approaching the PGR9 stage should be aware that the PGR9 oral presentation may be either deferred or held via videoconference, eg Zoom.

These presentations and PGR9 reviews are organised by faculties, so contact your faculty postgraduate office for information on your presentation. Deferrals will be approved when needed, with no penalties in regard to your candidature timelines.

Contact your Faculty Postgraduate Office if you wish to discuss your PGR9 presentation.

Faculty postgraduate contacts (AUT website)

Please submit your thesis to your Faculty Postgraduate Office in digital form by emailing them directly.

Faculty postgraduate contacts (AUT website)

You and your supervisor can complete the appropriate form, PGR12 Lodgement of Thesis for Examination and email this with your digital copy to your faculty.

Postgraduate forms

Oral examinations

For doctoral candidates with an oral examination scheduled during April and May, the exams team will have been in communication with you, your examiners, convenor and supervisors.

We have developed protocols for online examinations via Zoom so that your examination can proceed (unless there is an approved request to defer) using these remote examination protocols.

Creative examination (Format 3)

Examinations that involve an exhibition artefact that requires viewing in person will be postponed until further notice.

If you have already had your exhibition/performance, then your oral examination will proceed via videoconference.

If you have an artefact that can be sent to examiners to assess, eg creative writing, a documentary, screen play or interactive pdf, the exams team will be able to manage the arrangements for scheduling an oral examination via videoconference.

For more information, contact

The GRS has been managing these examinations digitally for quite some time and will continue to arrange for these to be examined.

Creative examination (Format 3)

Examinations that involve an exhibition artefact that requires viewing in person will be postponed until further notice.

If you have an artefact that can be sent to examiners to assess, eg creative writing, a documentary, screen play or interactive pdf, the exams team will arrange a videoconference to be set up for your examination in consultation with your school/faculty.

For more information, contact

Research ethics

We have ethical obligations as researchers to not place ourselves or our research participants and colleagues at risk.

AUTEC advises that data collection involving physical proximity to other people may resume at Alert Level 2 as long asresearchers and participants are complying with Ministry of Health Guidelines, including:

  • Limiting the size of gatherings;
  • Maintaining physical distancing; and
  • Collecting sufficient information to enable quick and accurate contact tracing should the Ministry of Health request it.

AUTEC encourages graduate research students to consult with their Primary Supervisor, and the AUTEC Secretariat if necessary, to develop protocols that are in line with Ministry of Health guidelines, and appropriate for their specific research project. If these protocols are different than those approved for your research project by AUTEC, you will need to seek an amendment (via your Primary Supervisor) to your approval using the EA2 form.

Research ethics information and forms

You are also reminded to prioritise the safety of your research participants, yourself and any research assistants, particularly when people in an at-risk category are involved.

Please submit new Ethics Applications and Amendments to existing AUTEC approvals by email to Submit these in a single .pdf file containing the application and related documents with the EA form at the beginning and the other documents in the order stated in the form.

If you have any questions relating to your ethics application, make sure to discuss this with your supervisor. You can also contact AUT Ethics by emailing

Student FAQs

Latest updates from the Graduate Research School

Make sure you read our latest update for research students during COVID-19.

COVID-19 updates for research students

Other questions?

If you have not been able to find the answer to your query below, please contact the Graduate Research School and we will do all we can to help you.


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