COVID-19 advice for graduate researchers

Last updated, Monday 16 November 2022

Important reminders

  • Please check the list of on-campus exposures and impacts before leaving home and follow any associated advice.
  • From Semester 1, 2023, most subjects will be taught on campus only, with flexible options limited to select postgraduate programs and individual subjects Find out more
  • If you have any symptoms, however mild, do not attend campus – get tested for COVID-19.
  • If you have become unwell while on campus, have tested positive for COVID-19 or are a close contact of someone who has after being on campus, please follow the University of Melbourne Testing and Notification Guidance.
  • The University strongly encourages students and staff to stay up-to-date with their vaccination for COVID-19 and other infectious illnesses (e.g. the flu), and to get COVID boosters if eligible. More information, including how to book an appointment, is available on the Victorian Government’s coronavirus website
  • The University no longer requires evidence of vaccination in order to access campus*, but continues to strongly encourage individuals to remain up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations.
    *There are still some circumstances under Public Health Orders and in some host workplaces where vaccination may still be required. Find out more
  • Everyone is welcome to wear a face mask anywhere on campus. If you are COVID-positive or a COVID contact and unable to study or work remotely, you must wear a mask if you need to attend campus and follow this additional advice.
  • A range of support services are available to students and staff.

Before attending campus  or a workplace for the first time since March 2020, all students and staff members are asked to complete a health declaration and COVIDSafe Campus module This will help you and others stay well and understand requirements, and minimise disruptions to University activities.  The declaration and module only takes a few minutes to complete. Local daily health declaration arrangements may also apply in specific University buildings in accordance with the local COVIDSafe plan, as well as in partner organisations such as hospitals and Medical Research Institutes.

For further updates and advice about COVID-19 for graduate researchers, please see the FAQs below.

Manage your candidature

  • Taking leave from my candidature

    If you need to take leave, see ‘Taking leave and financial support’ (below) for more information. You can continue to access the University's health services while on leave.

    If you are enrolled full time but are only able to work at a part time rate (50%), you should consider changing to part-time enrolment.

  • What if I need an extension to candidature because of COVID-19?

    The President of Academic Board has approved a temporary increase of six months to the maximum course duration (that is, maximum thesis submission deadline) of graduate research degrees.

    Doctoral candidates

    • Maximum course duration increases to 4.5 years
    • Available to candidates who commenced their course prior to 1 March 2020
    • Candidates must not have reached the 4-year milestone by 1 March 2020
    • You must record COVID-19 disruptions to candidature at each progress review
    • If you need to apply for a COVID-19 stipend extension when your scholarship expires, we recommend that you hold your 3.5 year review 6 weeks early. This will allow your candidature and stipend extension requests to be considered at the same time and avoid a gap in stipend payments.

    Masters candidates

    • Maximum course duration increases to 2.5 years
    • Available to candidates who have commenced their course prior to 1 March 2020
    • Candidates must not have reached the 2-year milestone by 1 March 2020
    • You must record COVID-19 disruptions to candidature at each progress review

    Further extensions to candidature are available where progress is delayed due to circumstances beyond your control. If you require flexibility in the scheduling of upcoming milestones such as review meetings or completion seminars, please speak to your supervisors or advisory committee chair.

    You and your supervisors should discuss and record any COVID-related impacts to your candidature and update it periodically. We encourage you to document this through a Candidature Management form. You can refer to those documents used in progress review meetings and progress review forms have been updated, so that time lost to COVID-19 is recorded at each milestone.

    If you still need time beyond your maximum course duration, you will need to seek permission to submit. Previously completed candidature management and progress review forms can be used to support your application.


  • Will the University be providing scholarship extensions?

    We are providing stipend extensions for doctoral candidates whose research progress has been directly impacted by COVID-19 disruptions of:

    • Up to 16 weeks if you have lost significant productivity due to COVID-19.
    • Up to 26 weeks for those of you whose project has been profoundly affected by COVID-19 to the extent that a major restructure or re-conception of the project is required to complete your research degree.

    This stipend extension scheme will be provided at the University standard scholarship rate and will be available to doctoral candidates until they reach 4 years of candidature. This is the maximum support available to doctoral candidates, inclusive of any COVID-19 paid leave received. For example, if you have lost significant productivity due to COVID-19 and have already taken 4 weeks paid COVID-19 leave, then you would be eligible for up to 12 weeks stipend extension, depending on your stipend expiry date.

    As Masters candidates on stipend receive this for the standard University maximum course duration of 2 years, stipend extensions will not be available via this scheme.

    An application will be required, and a University committee will oversee the process to ensure equity across faculties. Applications will need to set out a clear case of significant disruption.

    The University has extended its stipend extension scheme into 2023.

    We are continuing to stagger application dates, to ensure that the most urgent cases are considered first.

    Visit our COVID-19 Stipend Extension page for application opening dates and details on how to apply.

Taking leave and financial support

  • I can’t continue my studies at the moment, what should I do?

    There have been changes to the eligibility for paid COVID-19 leave for domestic scholarship holders and onshore international scholarship holders with compelling and compassionate reasons.

    From 16 May 2022, up to 5 working days paid COVID-19 leave will be available to eligible graduate researchers who test positive to COVID-19 and are unable to study from home. Confirmation of a positive test must be provided with the application. People who test positive on a rapid antigen test must register the result with the Department of Health. They will receive a confirmation, usually in the form of a text message, which should be attached to the application for leave.

    The maximum cumulative scholarship leave payment for COVID-19 reasons is 80 working days (full-time equivalent) across candidature. This leave is calculated pro rata (up to 160 working days) if you are studying part time.

    If you are caring for others who have COVID or have exhausted your paid COVID-19 leave, you may be able to access any available standard scholarship leave or take unpaid COVID-19 leave.

    Paid COVID-19 leave is not available to candidates in receipt of a COVID-19 stipend extension.

    There is no limit on the amount of unpaid COVID-19 leave that candidates can take but it must be justified by impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. Candidates taking leave to undertake COVID-19 healthcare employment are also eligible for unpaid COVID-19 leave.

    If you need to take a leave of absence for other reasons, the standard candidature and scholarship leave provisions are available.

    You can continue to access the University's health services while on leave.

    You can apply for COVID-19 leave via the Leave of Absence (Graduate Research) form and select the reason COVID-19. If you are taking leave to undertake COVID-19 healthcare employment, please also use the reason COVID-19. If you are undertaking other work, please use one of the Employment reason codes.

    If your COVID-19 leave is approved your expected thesis submission date and any future progress review dates will be adjusted accordingly.

    Candidature extensions, as explained above, are used to adjust candidature for other forms of COVID-related disruption.

Travel to Australia

  • I am continuing my research from outside of Australia. Am I insured?

    If you are continuing to study from outside Australia, refer to the Study Away page for current information on travel and insurance.

  • I wish to travel to Australia to continue my studies

    If you are a non-resident or non-citizen of Australia, you are now able to enter Australia. For the latest advice on Australia’s borders, please visit the Australian Home Affairs website

  • Is there travel support available?

    Graduate researchers enrolled in an international fee place who travel to Australia to continue their studies in 2021 and 2022 will be eligible to apply for a $4,000 Melbourne Welcome Grant towards the cost of travel, quarantine and adjustment to study and life in Melbourne.

  • Can I commence my degree from outside Australia

    From 1 July 2022, you must commence your degree in Australia unless you are commencing an international joint PhD at the partner institution, or compelling and exceptional circumstances apply and your Faculty Associate Dean has given permission for you to commence offshore.