Technical Note - Thesis Student Login Accounts

Summary

This technical note describes how logins for ECS/SMS thesis students on the ECS computer systems are processed.

Quick Overview

Because thesis student enrolments are not aligned with University trimesters, our login account management system processes them differently to that of non-thesis students (more details on the latter can be found in the account suspension technical note).

It does this based on information about thesis student enrolments obtained from the University's Student Records (aka "Banner") system. As information about a thesis student is updated in Student Records, our system automatically adjusts the login suspension date for that student. In this way a thesis student's login is automatically kept active for as long as is needed for completion of their thesis.

For PhD thesis students "completion of their thesis" means after their thesis has been examined, required corrections made and a copy deposited in the University library. So a PhD student's login shouldn't be suspended until after this entire process has been completed.

Our default policy for Masters students is that logins are not kept active during the thesis examination period. So a Masters student login suspension date is set based on the date their thesis was submitted for examination.

Because it can take the Faculty of Graduate Research (FGR) time to process and enter thesis enrolment information into Student Records, there may be a delay before we receive the updated information. So our system adds a "grace period" to the dates it obtains from Student Records to determine actual login suspension dates.

The intention is that automatically set login suspension dates should be correct for the majority of students. But where delays longer than our grace periods occur, or for other reasons, suspension dates may need to be manually overridden. Some of these reasons and how to request a manual override are discussed in more detail below.

note Note 1: For PhD students, the use of the term "thesis enrolment" in this document includes the period after submission when their thesis is under examination. Although a student may not consider themselves to be still "enrolled" during this period, the University's Student Records system does!

note Note 2: The automatic processing of thesis enrolments described in this technical note only applies to ECS or SMS thesis students since we only receive daily thesis enrolment updates for those schools. Students enrolled in thesis courses with other schools who have ECS login accounts due to a co-supervision or other arrangement will need to get their supervisors to manually request ECS login account extensions.

note Supervisors Note: office bookings for thesis students are not automatically tied to a student's enrolment (since it's possible for a student to have an office space while not enrolled or to be enrolled and not need an office space). Where appropriate we try to keep room bookings manually synchronised with enrolments. But mistakes occur and so you may receive automatically generated emails about expiring room bookings for students whose enrolment is continuing and who still need the space. Please respond to these to keep our room booking database accurate, otherwise a space could be incorrectly reallocated another student.

Student Login Processing In More Detail

The normal sequence of events in creating/activating/suspending a thesis student's login are as follows.

  • A student enrols in a thesis course with a specified start date. Our system will automatically create a new login or re-enable/extend an existing one for the student a week prior to their start date. The Manual Override section below describes what to do if a supervisor wants their student to have an active login earlier than one week prior to their enrolment start date.

  • For a PhD enrolment, the enrolment end date will typically be set to 31st December of the current year. For a Masters enrolment it will be one calendar year from the start date. In either case, the suspension date for the student's login will be set based on this enrolment end date and the grace periods outlined below.

  • The end date for an enrolment may get updated a number of times during its lifetime. For PhD enrolments this will happen towards the end of each year when the FGR re-enrols students for the following year. The re-enrolment may be for a full year or less, depending on the expected time to completion. Re-enrolments can also happen at other times (eg: if a student re-enrolled for a partial year but then finds that completion is taking longer than expected). Most Masters theses should be completed within a single one-year enrolment period. But if an enrolment has been suspended the original end date will be adjusted. Extensions can also be granted. Once an updated enrolment end date has been entered into student records, our system will automatically adjust the suspension date of the student's login accordingly.

  • Thesis submission is recorded in student records. If submission occurs prior to the end of the current enrolment the enrolment end date will be adjusted to the previous day. An "Under Examination" entry will also be recorded, which for Masters students will have an end date of 6 months after submission and for PhD students one year after. Our automatic processing ignores Under Examination entries for Masters students, so their login suspension date will be set to one week after our system processes their submission. A PhD student's login suspension date will be set to one week after the end of their examination period.

  • If for some reason the examination process for a PhD thesis takes longer than a year the FGR will adjust the Under Examination end date which will result in the login suspension date being updated. Eventually the thesis should be examined, corrections made and a copy of the thesis deposited in the University library. Deposition of the thesis is recorded in student records and at the same time the end date of the Under Examination entry will be adjusted to the previous day. Our automatic processing will then set the suspension date of the PhD student's login to one one week after the date it processes the thesis deposition.

  • If a student withdraws from their thesis enrolment this will be recorded in student records. Our system will set their login suspension date to one week after the date it processes their enrolment withdrawal.

Manual Override

We prefer to override the automatic process only in special circumstances. Our grace periods are intended to reduce the need for manual overrides, but if one is required it should be for as short a time as possible so the automatic system will take over as soon as it is able.

Some reasons why a manual override might be required include:
  • Administrative issues within FGR (eg: unpaid fees, scholarship requirements, incomplete paper work, FGR staff workload, etc) delaying the entry/update of Student Records enrolment information.
  • An international student unable to finalise enrolment due to visa issues or the requirement to pass an English language course;
  • A supervisor wanting their student to have an active login earlier than one week before their thesis start date or after thesis completion (ie: a Masters student whose thesis has been submitted for examination or a PhD student whose thesis has been deposited in the library).
  • An FGR granted grace period allowing thesis submission more than a week after the end of a students enrolment (or more than two weeks after a PhD enrolment ending on 31st of December in the previous year).

If a student receives a 7 day notification that their account is due to expire but they know that FGR are processing a thesis (re-)enrolment, submission, etc, for them, they shouldn't worry (yet!). There's a good chance that the grace period we have provided will cover the time required for that processing. If they receive a subsequent 2 day notification, it means we still haven't received updated enrolment information. If it is received in the next two days the automatic process will still work, but to be safe they may want to ask their supervisor to contact jobs@ecs.vuw.ac.nz to confirm their current situation and/or to request a manual override.

When requesting an override the reason and likely duration required should be given as this information may affect the way we satisfy the request. For example, if a supervisor just wants their Masters thesis student to keep their login access while waiting for their thesis to be examined or to make corrections we would adjust the end date of their Masters student status in our account management database to the specified date. But if that student had an employment contract over that period we would also change their login type to match their contract (eg: research assistant, teaching assistant, etc) to ensure they had the correct access rights, mailing list memberships, etc.

Once a PhD thesis has been deposited in the library, the depositor is no longer considered to be a student. So rather than extending their PhD student status, their login would be converted to a type dependent on their contract (Post Doc, Research Assistant, Teaching Fellow, etc), or if they don't have a contract, to a guest login.

Grace Periods

For all thesis students, login suspension dates are set to one week after the end of their current enrolment. This allows for submission a day or so after the end of their enrolment (assuming that permission for this has been granted by the FGR) or for delays processing a re-enrolment/submission/etc within FGR.

Also, after completion of their thesis (submission for Masters and deposition in the library for PhD) a one week grace period is automatically added to allow students time to hand over material to their supervisor, take copies and clean up their files, etc. If more time is required for this a manual override will need to be requested.

An extra grace period covering the first two weeks of each year is also added to any thesis enrolments ending during the University's Christmas shutdown period (typically two or three days before Christmas through until the first week in January). This is most likely to apply to PhD students who have not re-enrolled for the following year and so whose enrolment ends on 31st December of the current year. They may be due to submit at the end of the year but have been allowed by FGR to submit early in the following year without re-enrolling. Or there may have been some other delay in processing a re-enrolment. Whatever the reason, this grace period is intended to ensure that a login won't be suspended when there may be no technical support staff around to re-enable it.