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Extension of a PhD programme due to COVID-19

AU's joint procedure for PhD programmes which progress has been directly affected by COVID-19

COVID-19 and the consequences hereof such as the physical lockdown of Aarhus University, may affect some PhD student’s ability to finish their PhD programme as first planned. Aarhus University has a joint procedure for handling cases like these. The joint procedure is based on the political agreements on the phased reopening of the country, in addition to the Circular on the agreement on the possibility of extending temporary employment contracts, as a consequence of delays occurring in connection with COVID-19 (in Danish only).

The objective of the procedure is to ensure a common point of departure for all PhD students at AU, while at the same time granting the individual Graduate School the flexibility to handle the challenges in individual students’ PhD projects in the most appropriate way.
Therefore, all applications for extension due to COVID-19 will be processed on the basis of an individual, specific assessment. The assessment will be carried out by the Graduate School management at the Graduate School in question on the basis of the School's guidelines. The Graduate School management will make the final decision in the case. 

The joint procedure applies to PhD students whose progress has been directly affected by COVID-19:

  • AU must ensure that enrolled PhD students are able to finish their PhD programmes, and that the quality of the PhD project lives up to applicable academic requirements for a PhD degree. 
  • A delay in progress towards the PhD degree must be a direct consequence of COVID-19, including the periods of physical lockdown of AU. 
  • All PhD projects that are or may be delayed because of the COVID-19-situation must be considered individually and through individual dialogue with the principal supervisor. The Graduate School also recommends discussing it with the Head of programme. The PhD student writes the application for extension and both supervisor and Head of programme must make a statement. 
  • In the evaluation of the extension, every effort must be made to adjust the individual PhD project to allow the PhD student to complete their project as planned. 
  • If the PhD project cannot be completed without an extension of the deadline, the amount of additional time to be granted must be calculated on an individual basis. 
  • The nature of the delay in the PhD project must be described in the application for extension.

When and how to apply

It is possible to apply for an extension of a PhD programme due to COVID-19, if the PhD project has been delayed as a direct consequence of COVID-19, including the periods when AU’s campuses have been shut down. It is possible to apply for an extension due to COVID-19 throughout the PhD programme. However, the Graduate School recommends waiting to apply until the last year of the PhD programme where the exact extent of the Covid-19 delay will be easier to assess. Furthermore, it is possible to apply for an extension of a PhD programme due to COVID-19 more than once, if there are changes in circumstances laid down in the previous application.    

If an extension is deemed necessary, please follow the normal procedures described in section 7.3 of the GSNS Rules and Regulations with the “COVID-19 exception”, that fellowships can also be extended; not just the study time. Funding is not a prerequisite for applying for an extension. An application for extension due to COVID-19 will be assessed on an individual basis, and the Head of the Graduate School will make a decision in the case. 

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