Access to on-campus research facilities

In order to ensure that campus working is COVID-compliant, access to campus is limited, with some buildings not open and others operating with reduced occupancy. The University’s COVID Oversight Group (COG) will take decisions on appropriate building occupancy levels depending on current conditions. Research activity is managed at a local level by Schools and Departments, taking into account relevant prioritisation principles and occupancy limits. This document lays out the principles that Schools and Departments use to manage access to on-campus research facilities. It also provides School/Departmental points of contact. 

Prioritisation when increasing or reducing research activity on campus

Depending on building occupancy limits, local and national lockdown conditions, local outbreaks of COVID-19 and other factors, there will be times when research activity on campus may be able to increase or need to reduce. More detail can be found in the Strategic Response Framework . 

COG will take decisions on building occupancy levels to reflect current conditions. When increasing or reducing research activity, Research Directors in Schools and Departments – working with Operations Managers and overseen by Heads of Schools and Departments – will use the principles below to prioritise research access according to prevailing occupancy limits. This will include documenting and communicating decisions on prioritisation to researchers. 

Priorities for access to on-campus research activities

The principles below will be used by Schools/Departments to determine prioritisation for on-campus research access.

  • Access to enable achievement of the goals of funded research, enterprise and knowledge exchange. (Funded research includes funding from block grants that are internally distributed e.g. QR GCRF, ESRC IAA, WTISSF, MRC CiC etc.).
  • Access for new, funded research related to COVID-19 or activities that will lead towards funded research on COVID-19 (e.g., capturing preliminary data for the UKRI COVID-19 Open Call, via LD3 activities).
  • Access for activities to generate critical data with a clear line of sight to funding opportunities or research grant application in progress, including funded pump-priming activity.
  • Ensuring postgraduate research students (PGRs) can progress their research. This might include prioritising the research of PGRs whose activities are substantially impacted, who do not have access to data to allow writing up off-campus, or who are close to completion. This may also mean ensuring some key Post-doctoral Research Assistants (PDRAs) and/or technicians are available where PGRs need advice or help.
  • Access to meet the specific needs of Early Career Researchers (ECRs), including those funded, for example, by prestigious fellowships or UKRI New Investigator Research Grants.
  • Access to take into account the specific needs of researchers where home working is having an exceptional negative impact on their ability to deliver priority research and enterprise.
  • Access to enable other research, enterprise or knowledge exchange activities of high value (e.g., research activities of particular reputational importance). This could also include research activities where not completing the activity could expose the University to additional financial risk.
  • Potential for short term and controlled access to offices/labs for researchers to obtain existing data/resources that cannot be accessed from home and which will enable progress while primarily working remotely.

The further considerations below will be taken into account in all cases:

  • Consideration of the ease/difficulty of conducting research and using research infrastructure, and of the time required to bring facilities into operational mode ahead of resumption of the research that uses them.
  • Consideration of relevant, local information such as whether research facilities are already open in some way, or could be particularly challenging to restart; ability to balance capacity and demand with rotas for use of equipment etc.
  • Principles of equality, diversity and inclusion with respect to personal characteristics as well as to different disciplines. 

Research Coordinators in Schools and Departments

Each School and Department has identified a Research Coordinator from within their staff, working with others within each School/Department to take local control of expanding and/or reducing research activity in response to COG decisions, and to keep records of all prioritisation decisions made and the criteria applied to each decision. Colleges – through Directors of Operations and Deans of Research – will maintain oversight of local decisions across all buildings and facilities. Research Coordinators will update research staff and students on a regular basis with information on access to research facilities. They will also be the point-of-contact for queries. Note: postgraduate researchers (PGRs) should raise issues with their supervisors in the first instance. It is then supervisors’ responsibility to raise queries with Research Coordinators.