Doctoral Schools measures in response to COVID-19

Last updated: 09/07/2021,  17:00.

PhD defences

At a glance:

On-campus PhD defences (both internal and public defences)

0. Precondition

Both the PhD candidate and the chairperson of the Examination Board must agree to an on-campus doctoral defence, and must be present at the on-campus defence. The promotor(s) and the members of the Examination Board who can't or who don't wish to be present, may participate via videoconferencing. Make sure that the candidate and the chair of the Examination Committee arrive well in time, so that any hardware difficulties may be resolved before the defence is due to start.

Note that government guidance stipulates that a public doctoral defence's legally required public character implies that all interested parties must be able to attend, either in person or via live-stream. If the venue's allowed seat occupancy under the corona measures is lower than the amount of people who wish to attend your defence (i.e. if you cannot accomodate all interested parties), the public parts of the defence must be live-streamed in order to preserve the defence's legally required public character. Please note that if there is no videoconferencing infrastructure in the room of your choice, you can borrow a conferencecam (Logitech Connect or Logitech Meetup) via Team Multimedia (multimedia@UGent.be). 

 1. Who?

From 9 june, the general public is allowed to attend on-campus public defences, provided that all attendees adhere strictly to the safety guidelines (see below).

2. Where?

All suitable UGent rooms may be used, provided that the guidelines regarding seat occupancy are adhered to, and that any guidelines by relevant authorities regarding the start and end times for events are respected.

Please refer to the lists on the university's "back to work safely" page for an overview of the corona capacities of UGent rooms. The capacities are calculated based upon multiple parameters (especially physical distance and ventilation standards as defined by the government and in specific protocols). This list will continue to be updated over the coming weeks.

Please note that if relevant authorities (e.g. federal, regional, or local governments) have imposed stricter guidelines regarding maximum attendance, these stricter guidelines take precedence. In other words, even if a large venue's theoretical corona capacity is greater than government guidelines regarding maximum attendance, the government guidelines must be respected.

For more information, see https://www.info-coronavirus.be/en/

3. How?

Safety guidelines must be observed. Specifically: 

  • Mandatory face coverings 
  • Physical distancing (1,5m) at all times
  • Hand hygiene: people must be able to disinfect their hands on entering/leaving the space
  • Sufficient ventilation

Note that since current university guidelines discourage exchanging ceremonial dress, it is not currently possible to borrow professorial toga's from the central depot. Some faculties may have toga's available for borrowing. 

4. Receptions?

All suitable UGent rooms may be used (see the lists on the university's "back to work safely" page), provided that the guidelines regarding seat occupancy are adhered to, and that any guidelines by relevant authorities regarding the start and end times for events are respected. Outdoor receptions are also an option, provided that the guidelines listed below are adhered to, and provided that you notify permanentie@ugent.be.

Follow the sector-specific guidelines for horeca (i.e. the hospitality sector):

Ghent University has decided that receptions will be limited to 50 people. This limitation applies for out- and indoor receptions, including indoor receptions which take place in a room that has a greater theoretical capacity.

Note that there is an outdoor reception tent available for public defences held in the Aula. For more information on this tent & how to book it, please visit this information page.

If you have any questions regarding the above, please contact us at .

Digital PhD defences: videoconferencing and live-streaming

Videoconferencing (online internal defence)

An internal defence can take place in digital format as a regular video-conference. Ghent University provides support for videoconferencing through Microsoft Teams and Starleaf (Dutch).

Other options such as Skype are available, but note that there is no UGent support for these options.

On the advice of Ghent University's IT department, its Data Protection Officer, and the chair of its Privacy and Data Protection Committee, the use of Zoom for internal doctoral defences is prohibited. This decision was made due to serious security and GDPR-related concerns.

Live-streaming (public defence only)

Online public defences and on-campus public defences with audience restrictions (see "On Campus Public defence - Preconditions" above) must be live-streamed in order to preserve the public defence's (legally required) public character. As such, online public defences cannot be held as a regular video-conference, since these are not publicly accessible. Below are a few ways in which you can live-stream your public defence in a way that complies with that legal requirement, using the infrastructure that is available at Ghent University. Alternatives are available but note that there is no UGent support for these options.

The live-stream for an online public defence must be clearly advertised (e.g. in the invitation to the doctoral defence, or by requesting that includes the URL to the live-stream feed in the appropriate UGent agenda item).

Please note that doctorates where limitations and/or confidentiality has been imposed to protect research results that can create value, cannot avail themselves of this option for their public defence (cf. OER art. 97 §8). If you are a PhD candidate working on a doctorate where limitations and/or confidentiality has been imposed, and wish to defend your work in the near future, please contact us at .

What Explanation Manual for organisers Manual for audience members

Bongo Virtual Classroom in Ufora

Note: After September 2021 Bongo will no longer be available.

Live-stream from home using Ufora's built-in webinar functionality (under “other tools” in every Ufora course)

NB: maximum time per session is 240 mins.

FAQ: Dutch - English

More information and manual can be found here.

Make sure that you include instructions in the invitation you send out, and/or in the relevant item in the UGent agenda so people know how they can attend your digital defence (see next column).

Nb: make sure to test this out in advance!

The link to participate in the doctoral defence will be shared with you by e-mail.

After clicking on the link you will be able to enter the meeting room. You will then have the option to activate your microphone/camera. Please select "listen only" and keep your camera turned off to avoid distractions.

Only the members of the Examination Committee are allowed to activate their microphone and camera. Other attendees will be on ‘mute’. Questions during the defence can be asked via chat.

Microsoft Teams

Ghent University's Microsoft Teams environment, accessible via browser or via the app.

FAQ: English

More information and manuals can be found here. A Dutch-language video-tutorial can be found here.

Make sure that you include instructions in the invitation you send out, and/or in the relevant item in the UGent agenda so people know how they can attend your defence digitally (see next column).

Nb: make sure to test this out in advance!

The link to participate in the doctoral defence will be shared with you by e-mail.

After clicking on the link you will be placed into a waiting room.

Only the members of the Examination Committee are allowed to activate their microphone and camera. Other attendees will be on ‘mute’. Questions during the defence can be asked via chat.

 

PhD defences: Exceptions to regulations due to corona virus

Doctoral candidates may defend via videoconferencing (both internal & public defence). As such, a partial exemption from OER art. 95, §2 is made, and specifically from the cumulative conditions outlined as bullet points at the bottom of §2. This measure also implies that defences may take place entirely via videoconferencing, since members of the Examination Board may attend via teleconference as a matter of course. The Rector has decided that PhD candidates will have this option to defend digitally until at least the end of the 2021-2022 academic year.
Please note that doctorates where limitations and/or confidentiality has been imposed to protect research results that can create value, cannot avail themselves of this option for their public defence (cf. OER art. 97 §8). If you are a PhD candidate working on a doctorate where limitations and/or confidentiality has been imposed, and wish to defend your work in the near future, please contact us at .

Note that faculties may have additional measures in place - check your faculty's website, and contact your faculty's dean's office to inform yourself.

Submitting your dissertation

Check with your faculty's dean's office to see how you can submit your dissertation under the faculty's measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Doctoral Schools courses & activities

Doctoral candidates

Most Doctoral Schools courses and activities will go ahead, in most cases in a digital format. See our course catalogue for up-to-date information.

Course organizers

For the academic year 2020-2021, course organizers should opt for blended/online alternatives whenever possible. On-campus formats require explicit approval from the relevant Doctoral Schools Councils (for specialist courses) or from the Doctoral Schools Board of Directors (for other types of activities). On-campus formats are reserved for courses which cannot reasonably take place in an online format (e.g. courses with specific infrastructure requirements such as a laboratory setting). The application forms for specialist courses, seasonal schools and hot topic lectures have been edited to include this consideration. These forms can be found on our website for supervisors.

Please note that this change implies that the Doctoral Schools will show flexibility in certain funding criteria, and particularly in the contact hour requirements. The prescribed minimum contact hours (15 hrs for specialist courses, 6 hrs for transferable skills courses) do not need to be turned into a corresponding amount of synchronous digital instruction: flipped classroom concepts with a few hours of synchronous digital instruction supplemented by e.g. assigned reading, online asynchronous discussion etc. are acceptable and in most cases likely preferable. In general, we ask that course organizers attempt to put together a workload that, taken together, at least approximates the regular minimum contact hours.

COVID-related exemptions for (compulsory) doctoral training programmes

If you are scheduled to defend soon, and you are unable to complete the curriculum for your doctoral training programme because of the measures taken to help slow the spread of corona virus, you may be eligible for a (partial) exemption, provided that you can show that due to the corona virus measures,

  1. an activity for which you had registered has been cancelled or rescheduled to a date which is later than the date scheduled for the submission of your dissertation; and
  2. there are no suitable (digital) alternatives available to you.

If you meet those two conditions, you may submit your motivated request for a (partial) exemption using this form. Send the completed form to

Frequently asked questions 

  1. Do I need to comply with the latest government guidelines if my public defence was planned before the change was announced?
    Yes, irrespective of when the event was planned, the measures in force at that time must be respected. Plan for how you would manage a short notice change in room capacity or a format change (from on campus to digital or vice versa).
  2. Can I invite non-UGent staff to attend my public defence?
    Yes, from 9 June 2021 it is again possible to invite the general public to your doctoral defence, always provided that the appropriate guidelines are strictly adhered to (see above).

Questions?

 If you have any questions regarding the above, please contact us at .