Frequently Asked Questions

Here you will find a list of frequently asked questions and their answers regarding GSLS studies during the Coronavirus pandemic. They have been subdivided into main themes.

Wellbeing
 

Q: I feel nervous/stressed about the impact of the Corona situation may have on my study progress and/or my personal situation. Where can I get advice?
A: The current situation with all the measures to prevent spreading of the corona virus affect people in different ways. First there is the fear of becoming ill, or of family members or friends becoming ill. Then there is the effect on your study when labs are closed and all education is online. And it is uncertain how the situation will develop in the future.

Talk with other people about these uncertainties. Many people at the GSLS are willing to help, such as your supervisors, program coordinator and academic counselor. Limit your daily exposure to the news, try to sleep well, and try to structure the things that you can control. It helps to have a daily schedule with a healthy study rhythm, eat well and try to exercise every day, preferably outside. Also look at the information on this page in the study guide. Please contact the academic counsellor for advice.

Q: I am an international student and have only recently arrived. I do not have a social network and feel quite alone.
A: Please contact the academic counsellor to talk about your things and for advice on your personal situation. Also you can checkout this UU option for counselling: https://students.uu.nl/en/student-life/study-wellbeing-and-development/a-bright-conversation. There is also a special Facebook support group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/uu.international.support/.
 

Studying at home
 

Q: How can I effectively study at home?
A: You can find tips on the website of the Skills Lab. There is also an option to join an online study group in Teams. If there are special circumstances, which make it difficult for you to study at home of to participate in online exams, please contact the academic counsellor of your Master’s programme.

Q: I have a disability and the online solutions are not all good options for me, what can I do?
A: Please contact the examiner to check for alternatives and/or ask advice from your academic counsellor.

Q: Will we have a day scheduled that we can pick up things from the university?
A: Please ask your supervisor for current regulations. The rules differ per building at UU/UMC and make sure you get permission.

 

Graduation
 

Q: Can I still graduate and how do I get my diploma?
A: Yes, you can graduate. For graduation regulations follow the standard procedure in the study guide. Formally, you can graduate each month (in Osiris and also will be communicated to DUO), however all ceremonies are suspended. We are currently working on options as to how you can obtain the diploma itself.

Q: What if I cannot submit the documents by August 15th in order to graduate this year? Will this deadline be prolonged for all students in the last year of their studies?
A: You can graduate every month, however if you pass August 31st, you need to pay tuition fee for every month you need longer. Contact the Board of Examiners if you cannot make the deadline of 15th August but do want to graduate in August. Whether you can apply for financial support, depends on the options you had, so please check out our alternatives and refer to the UU website about financial support.


Finances, housing and visas
 

In general, please refer to the UU site, as these matters are not handled by the GSLS.
https://www.uu.nl/en/organisation/practical-matters/coronavirus/coronavirus-students-education

and also
https://students.uu.nl/en/practical-information/the-corona-crisis-housing-and-financial-matters
 

Finances
 

Q: As a non-EU student in the 2nd year of master, with no other options left than my Minor Research Project, what else can I do besides extend the study and pay the prolonged tuition fee?
A: You can replace parts of the Minor Research Project as suggested by the GSLS (click here for the attachment document). Also, you may use the summer months if needed and try to finish within this academic year. If delay is inevitable, please check also the UU website for financial support options.

Q: For Dutch (and EU) students. When you reach the maximum duration of study finances before the end of your programme, due to this situation, is there some possibility for an extension/compensation?
A: DUO has made arrangements for this, please refer to the UU or DUO website for this item.

Q: I had to stop my project abroad, and want to pick it up again after the Corona situation. Can I get my ticket costs reimbursed, not only for coming back, but also for going again?
A: If possible, finish the project here, as the current situation may last longer than June 1st, and delay may be much longer than anticipated. Consult your programme coordinator for advice. For information about reimbursement of travel costs please go to the UU website.

Q: Despite the possible replacement of practical by theoretical components within the project, is it rather unfair for the class of 2020 to pay more for extension compared to other year?
A: We understand this feels unfair, but these are unprecedented times and we are bound by the national policies for the financial possibilities. If you have major financial problems, please contact the academic counsellor for more advice.

Q: If I can pick up my lab work again in summer, I have to travel, but my OV card is not valid during the summer. Where can I get information if this will be compensated?
A: For updates and regulations please refer to the UU or DUO site as these matters are not handled by the GSLS.

Q: I am a recipient of the Utrecht Excellence Scholarship. Can this be extended if I cannot finish on time?
A: At this moment this is not clear yet. This will be determined by the UU, so check the UU website. Also contact the academic counsellor to check options for personal aid.

Q: How does this situation affect my Erasmus+ scholarship? Do I have to contact any one that I am no longer abroad? Can I still get a scholarship for shorter projects?
A: For questions about Erasmus scholarships please check the Erasmus+ website of UU. For any other questions or contact the international office.
 

Housing, visas
 

Q: I am an international student. Can my housing contract be extended beyond 1 year?
A: The UU is in charge of housing advise, please check the UU website.

Q: As a non-EU student: if I decide to accept study delay because I want to wait for a certain course or finish practical work as intended, will that affect my visa extension?
A: If you are willingly delaying your studies, this might affect the decision on visa extension, however these regulations are not clear yet. Therefore, at this point we recommend to use the alternatives offered. To keep updated on visa issues please go to the UU website.

Q: Can I still enroll in courses for period 4 even though the official enrolment periods are over and if so, how?
A: We understand that the circumstances are unique so we are doing our best to increase the course capacity wherever possible and to fill all available spots with students that are interested even though the official enrolment periods are over. A list of available spots in GSLS courses can be found on the studyguide. All courses that are not mentioned in this list are to be considered as full. Keep an eye on this page for updates regarding new spots or if a course becomes full. If you are interested in joining a course that has available spots, send an email to the course coordinator. They will make the final decision about enrolment and will inform you and the respective administration office if you have been accepted to follow the course.

Q: Will there be extra courses offered online in period 4 that would normally not be taught now?
A: We explored many possibilities and in some cases this has been possible. Visit the studyguide to see which courses still have available spots that you could claim.

Q: What can I do if I missed out on an exam due to technical problems with home testing, illness or other reasons beyond my control?
A: In case of force majeur (overmacht) you have to go to the academic counsellor first to discuss your options for further testing. If needed they can refer you to the Board of Examiners.

Q: I have applied for courses in other faculties of Utrecht University, but I was not admitted. What can I do?
A: Unfortunately, the GSLS only has control over the courses offered within the GSLS itself. Other faculties may follow different policies to us when it comes to course enrolment and you need to adhere to their guidelines. Course capacity may be limited and priority may be given to students of that faculty. In that case, visit the
studyguide for available spots in GSLS courses or consider finding an external online course to follow (see next Q&A on how to proceed with that).

Q: Can I get credits by following online courses that are offered outside the GSLS?
A: Yes, you can follow external online courses and earn credits for them as part of your electives. The studyguide has all the information regarding the requirements and the procedure for getting approval. In short, the course needs to be at the Master’s level, offered by a university (Dutch or foreign) and it needs to have an individual assessment. Approval from your programme coordinator and the Board of Examiners is required in all cases.

Q: I am interested in following an external online course but it doesn’t mention whether it is Master’s level. What do I do?
A: If you are unsure that a course you are interested in meets the requirements, consult with your programme coordinator. They can help you determine if a course is suitable and they need to give their approval in all cases anyway for external courses.

Q: Will the GSLS reimburse the fees for an online course or pay for a certificate?
A: No, it will not. Fees for online courses or certificates of courses are at your own expense.

Q: I have applied for a course outside the GSLS as part of my electives. Can I start following it even though I don’t have approval from the Board of Examiners yet?
A: You may choose to start with a course outside the GSLS, however there is a risk that the course may not be approved by your programme coordinator or the Board of Examiners. The Board of Examiners understands the urgency of these circumstances and is doing its best to process all applications as quickly as possible. Make sure the information in your application is complete and accurate to help move the process along.

Q: Can I start a Writing Assignment in the same topic as I am doing my Research Project?
A: No, it is not allowed to do a Writing Assignment on the same topic as the Research Project. The Writing Assignment can take place within the same research group and with the same examiner, and the topic can be in the same field but should be clearly different and no (hardly any) overlap in references. The application form should contain a statement from the examiner about how the topics differ.

However, you are allowed to write a research proposal within the research project, as stated in the ‘GSLS Guidelines & Advices, as long as the total practical work during the Master’s is minimal 7 months.

Q: Do I need to hand in the application for the writing assignment 20 working days before the start of the assignment as usual or is this less strict at the moment?
A: You are requested to stick to the 20 working days rule but the Board of Examiners will be less strict in this regard. You should try to hand it in as soon as possible and the Board of Examiners will prioritize urgent applications.

Q: Are examiners (with exception of medical staff) obliged to accept requests for supervising Writing Assignments?
A: No, they are not. They are very much encouraged to do so, but they are also managing their own workload these days. We suggest you try to be as specific as possible and to define the topic of interest for your Writing Assignment. If needed, you can ask your Programme Coordinator for help and suggestions.

1. Alternative strategies for STARTING your research project during COVID-19 situation
 

Q: What if my research project was meant to start at the beginning of the COVID-19 situation but the examiner decided to postpone the start date until the lab is accessible again? Does it count as an external cause for financial compensation?
A: We suggest you talk to the examiner and consider moving back the start date to now, so you can already start the theoretical components as part of the research project. A more elaborate introduction or an assignment to extend your theoretical component will help shaping the project. Alternatively, you can use these two months to follow other education such as courses or the writing assignment. Since there are alternatives available, this will probably not count as external cause, but please read the alternatives proposed by the GSLS carefully.

Q: Can the theoretical alternatives be used to replace practical work of a research project abroad after the COVID-19 situation resolves in the Netherlands but perhaps not yet in the host location?
A: Yes, the theoretical alternatives will still be valid.

Q: What are the current corona-related rules concerning starting internships abroad?
A: Because of the Corona virus, the travel advice has been tightened for all countries in the world.

At this moment, for each country at least travel code ‘orange’ applies. This travel advice indicates that the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly advises everyone not to travel abroad. Because of the stricter and negative travel advice for the entire world, GSLS students will not receive permission from the International Office to travel abroad until 1st of June 2020. Research projects starting between 1st June and 1st September 2020 will be conditionally approved in ‘Osiris Stay Abroad’. This means that you have not yet received final permission from the International Office to go abroad. Four weeks before the start of a research internship abroad, the International Office will assess, in consultation with the research project coordinator, whether you will receive permission to travel to the country in question.

We do not know how the COVID-19 virus will develop in the Netherlands and worldwide and what the impact will be on the travel possibilities. The above policy may therefore become outdated in a few days. For this reason, the International Office strongly advises you to not make financial arrangements for future internships abroad. It is not clear whether these costs will be reimbursed.  However, you can start arranging the logistics.

At the same time, keep in close contact with the hosting institution and inform the external supervisor about the alternatives proposed by the GSLS. You can always request the advice of the Research Project Coordinator and, in any case, inform the International Office about the plans to (not) travel.

Q: Will it be possible to start an internship after summer?
A: According to our current regulations, yes. But we do not know how the COVID-19 situation is then. So please keep up to date and also consult your programme coordinator.

 

2. Alternative strategies for ONGOING research projects during COVID-19 situation
 

Q: Are the theoretical alternatives for the Research Project registered separately in Osiris with a number of ECs?
A: No, the theoretical alternatives partially replace the practical part of the Research Project. Their duration is estimated in the ‘COVID-19 Guidelines’ document. The examiner should include a statement together with the final assessment about the choice of theoretical component(s) and the duration of practical work you achieved.

Q: How many alternative theoretical components within the project can be done?
A: To what extent you increase the theoretical part of the research project should be discussed and agreed upon between  you and the examiner (and supervisor when applicable). In order to receive the Master’s degree, the GSLS has the requirement of a minimum of 7 months of practical work throughout the whole Master’s Degree.

Q: What are the steps to pause (and resume in the future) the Research Project in order to start a Writing Assignment, a course or a theoretical mini-project?
A: In consultation with the examiner, supervisor and programme (or track) coordinator, you should pause the research project by contacting the Research Project Coordinator. Once you can continue the project and have a clear view on a new end date, the Research Project Coordinator should be consulted and when approved the new end-date will be registered in Osiris.

Q: What if your Research Institution/Examiner/Supervisor allows you to continue your physical work before the UU policy permits it, or provides you with temporary exemptions for a key experiment?
A: The goal is to guarantee safety for our students. The UU policy will prevail at any time. If your institution allows it and you feel safe, discuss it with your examiner and inform the Research Project Coordinator.

Q: I had started an internship abroad and had to return to the Netherlands. I am however planning to go back to my host institution when it is possible again. What is the policy on this?
A:
We would like to stress that the aforementioned policy of the International Office is also applicable to students who recently returned to the Netherlands and who would like to return to their host institution abroad. If indeed you would like to return, we request that you register your stay abroad again in Osiris. Further instructions will be given by the International Office. We also advise you to dicuss your travel plans with the programme coordinator.

Q: For extensions within the maximal duration, does I need approval from the Board of Examiners?
A: No, for an extension within the maximal duration only the examiner has to approve it and the research project coordinator should be informed. Instructions can be found in the StudyGuide.

Q: Can the Research Project be extended beyond the maximal duration to do additional practical work?
A: Yes, that is a possibility. We are providing extensive guidelines to avoid study delay as much as possible and give you the opportunity to finish on time even in this unprecedented situation. Nevertheless, you are allowed to prolong the Research Project beyond the maximal duration. For that, you need to officially request this extension contacting the Research Project Coordinator and providing a letter with the explanation/motivation, the new planning and the approval of your examiner (see the instructions in the StudyGuide for detailed information).

Q: Can I substitute part of the practical work by an extensive literature review?
A: No, an extensive literature review is not allowed as a theoretical alternative within the research project. You can choose to write a research proposal, extend the introduction of the report or some of the other options provided in the ‘GSLS Guidelines & Advices’.

Q: Are shorter or split research projects also allowed, for example if I cannot finish my research project abroad?
A: You need to do a major and minor research project (except for Epi, Epi PG and SBM students). As described in the ‘Guidelines and Advices’ document, you may replace the practical part of the Research Project with the theoretical alternatives, or convert the Research Project into a miniproject in electives. Deviations from these rules should be requested by sending an email to the Board of Examiners.

 

3. Master’s degree requirements and COMPLETION
 

Q: If I am now in the Major Research Project and I do not manage to complete the minimum 7 months practical work required for the Master’s Degree, can I still choose a Profile in the second year?
A: Yes, you can. You could still do a profile in their second year. If it is a profile without a practical research component, you would need to fill in more credits with practical work (e.g. with their electives) in order to meet the learning outcomes of the GSLS Master’s Degree. Exceptions to this should be raised to the Board of Examiners.

Q: Within the 7 months of practical work, what falls under “practical work”?
A: The 7 months research work includes lab work, field research but also other types of research (e.g. bioinformatics) and in some cases analyzing data and statistics, depending on the nature of the project. When in doubt, consult the examiner and programme coordinator.

Q: What if the theoretical alternatives are not enough to compensate for the loss of practical work during a research project?
A: You should discuss suitable options with your examiner and programme coordinator. An alternative might be to convert the Research Project into a miniproject in electives. You are allowed to finish the Research Project when we are allowed to get back in the lab, but that might cause you study delay. Individual requests for alternative study plans should be sent for approval by email to the Board of Examiners.

Q: I had to stop the research project in the first 2 months abroad. I probably cannot go back and the alternatives offered are not sufficient in time, can I start a new minor project?
A: Yes, you should consult your programme coordinator and send a request to the Board of Examiners. The examiners of the project you wish to cancel should be informed as well. You can ask the Board of Examiners if the project started abroad could possibly count as a miniproject in electives.

Q: What should I do if I cannot have the final presentation of my Research Project due to COVID-19 situation and the end-date is near?
A: Please, discuss with your examiner and supervisor the possibility to schedule an online presentation with your research group.

Q: If I am in the first part of the project and I do not want to replace practical work by alternative theoretical components, does the time during this Corona situation count as an extension of my research project?
A: If you do not want to replace practical work with a theoretical component, you should consider pausing the research project to follow other education such as courses or start writing the writing assignment. Please, contact the Research Project Coordinator to pause the project. The new end date will change accordingly to the time period that the project was paused. Extending the Major research project with credits is not allowed. Since there are alternatives available, this will probably not count as external cause (read this information carefully).

Q: If I spend these weeks on writing the final report for the research project, am I still able to finish with the project on time and getting the total number of credits for the project?
A: The suggested alternative theoretical components, such as writing a more elaborate report, replace part of the practical work of your project. It should be therefore feasible to finish the project on the scheduled date and with the regular number of credits.

Q: Who decides if the additional theoretical work (in the form of extra assignments) besides finishing the report is enough to pass my research project?
A: The examiner is responsible for the assessment of the research project including the theoretical components as alternatives for part of the practical work. If there are other changes or the examiner needs advice, they should contact the Board of Examiners.

Q: If the project was extended with elective credits, is it then still possible to replace these extra credits with online courses?
A: Yes, additional elective credits can be extracted. You should consult the programme coordinator and inform the Board of Examiners. Please, note that you need approval by the Board of Examiners for online courses outside the GSLS.

Q: If I change the Major Research Project into a Minor Research Project, can I later on do the Major Research Project abroad?
A: The general rule is that the Major Research Project should take place within the UU/UMCU. However, exceptions to this rule can be requested to the Board of Examiners and the Board will consider every situation independently.

 

4. Who to contact
 

Q: If I want to choose one of the theoretical components within the research project, is it enough discussing it with the supervisor abroad?
A: No. You should discuss this with both your examiner and supervisor. More information about this can be found in the ‘GSLS Guidelines & Advices’ document.

Q: In order to use the theoretical alternatives proposed, do I need to fill in the application form again?
A: No, the theoretical alternatives within the research project described in the ‘Guidelines and Advices’ document are already approved by the Board of Examiners. Deviations from these alternatives should be requested by sending an email to the Board of Examiners.