Covid-19 funding support for doctoral students
Whether you're in receipt of a funded studentship, are self-funded or are working part-time to fund your research, this is the support available to you.
Funding support due to Covid-19 disruption
Whether you are in receipt of a funded studentship, are self-funded or are working part-time to fund your research, you will no doubt have questions. The answers to these questions are likely to vary depending upon your funding arrangements and your personal circumstances. However, the following general guidance may be useful for those of you who are experiencing disruption caused by the pandemic.
For clarity, when we talk about a CDT we mean a Research Council-funded Centre for Doctoral Training (e.g. SAMBa), whereas when we talk about a DTP we mean a Research Council-funded Doctoral Training Partnership (e.g. SWBio). We recognise that some students are funded by the EPSRC DTP training grant, which can sometimes cause confusion when we say “DTP”, but that is a fund that is paid direct to the University to administer rather than one, like SWBio DTP, which involves multiple partner institutions and is administered by the lead partner.
If you are funded by more than one source (e.g. UKRI and industry, UKRI and University)
You will need to review the guidance below and select the parts that are most relevant to your funding circumstances. There is also a summary table at the end of this page. If you are still unsure contact the Doctoral College.
UKRI and CDT/DTP students
If you are funded by UKRI or are funded by other sources but are part of a CDT or DTP cohort:
- If you are recorded on Je-S (UKRI’s Joint Electronic Submission system) as being funded by, or associated with, one of the UK Research Councils, please read this guide to UKRI funded extensions. This is in response to UKRI announcements linked from Guidance for the research and innovation communities (students & training grants) including Open Letter to UKRI students (24 April), Costed extensions to funding for up to six months (on 9 May), Detailed guidance for doctoral students supported by UKRI research council programmes and Update on extensions for doctoral students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic (17 August).
- If you are unsure whether you are recorded on Je-S, please email the Doctoral College.
- Aggregate data on the number of UKRI-registered students in their final year of funding requiring a funded extension was submitted to UKRI by the revised deadline of 9 June, and further detail concerning these extension requests will be submitted on 8 October. The Doctoral College submitted data for those students who are not part of a CDT or a DTP (e.g. SWDTP, SWBio, NERC GW4+, MRC Biomed), whereas the data for those in CDTs or a DTP was submitted by the relevant centre or partnership. The Studentships team have been making extension payments to those in their final year of funding. Data for those students whose funding end date is from 1 April 2021 was reported to UKRI on 30 June and we are still waiting for UKRI to confirm the process for reviewing those extension requests. If you have any questions, please email the Doctoral College.
University, Alumni, external sponsor and self-funded students
If you are funded by other sources (e.g. University, Alumni, external sponsor, self-funded) and are not part of a CDT or DTP cohort:
- The University has recently (24 September 2020) announced that it has created a new fund for final year University-funded students. If your studies have been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown you will be able to apply for a funded extension, if your funding was due to end between 1 March 2020 and 31 March 2021. To qualify for the fund, you must be in receipt of a full or partial University-funded studentship (URSA, LURS, SoM GRS, or CDT/DTP match-funded URS) and have evidence of the way in which Covid-19 has disrupted your research. Students partially funded by the university and a donor or other external sponsor, who are in their final year of funding, will be eligible to apply.
Not all applicants will be successful in securing support, and the amount awarded to those who are successful will vary according to when the funding is due to end, and the level of disruption experienced. You will only be considered for an extension if you can demonstrate genuine Covid-specific disruption. The University recognises that students have not been uniformly affected by the pandemic and that other forms of support might be more appropriate for some.
To apply, fill in this form and email it to the Doctoral College. The application deadline for these funding extensions has recently been extended to 6 November 2020.
- On 24 September the University announced a new Research Interruption (Covid-19) scheme for those who have lost time using University resources due to Covid-19. With this scheme you are permitted access to labs or other facilities for an agreed fee-free period, equivalent to that lost due to Covid.
You must have completed your minimum period of study for the fee-free period to begin. If you haven’t done so at the time of applying, the fee-free period will be implemented once you have completed the minimum period. You will retain full access to all resources (including facilities such as Laboratories, which are not normally available when transferred to Writing-Up) without changing your status. Once that period is passed, you will either revert to paying full fees or transfer to Writing-Up, whichever is appropriate.
If approved, this arrangement can be put in place to take effect when your funding ends or, if you're self-funded, when the data collection phase of your programme would normally be complete.
You cannot apply for this scheme if you qualify for any other support. If you want to take advantage of this facility you'll need to apply and provide evidence to demonstrate that you cannot expect to benefit from other measures to mitigate the impact of the disruption on the progress of your active research. Your application will also need to include appropriate evidence of the nature and level of disruption experienced.
To apply, fill in this form and email it to your Doctoral College Administrator.
- If you are unsuccessful in applying for an extension to funding, or are for some other reason still experiencing financial issues, you should contact the University Hardship Fund, which is for those students who are experiencing financial difficulty and are unable to meet basic or unexpected additional costs from other sources of support, and for those who have experienced a change in financial circumstances due to unforeseen events. The Covid-19 non-furlough scheme hardship fund has now closed.
- If you are unable to continue working at all such that you feel that you will need a suspension of studies or an extension of your registration period due to the disruption caused by the Covid-19 crisis, you should talk to your supervisor and contact the Doctoral College in the normal way.
- If you are funded by an external sponsor (i.e. but not by UKRI or the University), you should talk to your supervisor about contacting your specific sponsor(s) in the first instance, to see how they are responding to the situation and whether they can provide an extension to your funding. If you or your supervisor needs any advice on how to approach this discussion, please contact the Doctoral College.
- You can find information on other funders' web pages (e.g. Cancer Research UK’s page Coronavirus Information for grant holders, including students). However, the University’s Research & Innovation Services (RIS) has published the guidance received so far and it is worth checking regularly for any updates on your particular funder. The University’s Studentships Team is also closely monitoring the situation. You should also check on your own funder’s web pages, and revisit frequently in case of updates.
- When the student is funded by Alumni the Department of Development & Alumni Relations (DDAR) has been liaising with donors and supervisors on a case by case basis.
- If you are a self-funded student, you may want to consider suspending your studies to ensure that you are not charged further tuition fees, or taking advantage of the Research Interruption Fee (Covid-19) Scheme.
- If you are working part-time, or full-time, to fund your doctorate, and your income has been affected by the Covid-19 crisis, you may want to consider suspending your studies to ensure that you are not charged further tuition fees, or temporarily switching to writing up status.
- If you are undertaking paid teaching work at the University, and you are reliant on that income, you should check with whoever you liaise with for your teaching within your department regarding equipment and software to enable you to teach online.
- Depending on your research area, it may be worth checking for calls for paid work, sometimes to support action against Covid-19 e.g. there has been a call from Public Health England (PHE) to recruit lab-capable researchers to help with Covid-19 testing on short term contracts, and some students are engaging with the Royal United Hospital (RUH) in Bath.
- There may be other paid work outside of the research-sector including additional delivery drivers and shelf-stackers for supermarkets who are struggling due to unprecedented demand and loss of staff.
- Check the UK Government's guidance on Universal Credit and students.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has changed and will close on 31 October 2020. You can read the latest information on the UK Government job retention scheme.
- The University updated its guidance on furlough for hourly-paid and casual staff on 30 April. Where the page refers to staff, this includes students who are employed.
Flexible remote working opportunities
The University updates a page of Covid-19 research funding opportunities with details of opportunities from external funders related to the COVID-19 outbreak.
You can also read our guide to flexible remote working for doctoral students (added on 20 May), which may have opportunities suitable for you to supplement your income during this time.
Summary of options
We realise that the range of options for those students who are unable to progress with their research plans (as outlined above) may still be confusing and so we have attempted to summarise these (below).
|3-month fees-free extension of registration||Automatic for all students with final year of registration (thesis submission deadline) between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021. Optional for all other students (to request at start of final year of registration)||Applies at end of registration period – which may be a year after funding has ended, but students can make a case for it to be applied sooner|
|Extension to funding (expanded to include University funding as of 23/09/20)||Available for all UKRI and University-funded students whose funding was due to end between 1 March 2020 and 31 March 2021||Not automatic – must make a case. Other funding schemes may not have such arrangements|
|Suspension of studies||Provides a temporary halt to your studies. Good for self-funded students as do not have to pay fees. Time lost to studies is effectively added to your end of registration / submission deadline||Funded students would not receive their stipends during this period. Not possible for Tier4 visa-holders|
|Research Interruption scheme (Covid-19) - Fee-free period (replaces temporary change to Writing-Up)||Aimed at those who can continue with other programme-related activities but not the core planned research activities. Applicable to all stages of study including Tier4 visa-holders||Minimum registration period for your degree can be found in Reg.16. Not available to students who qualify for other support|
|University Hardship Fund||For those experiencing financial difficulty and are unable to meet basic or unexpected additional costs from other sources of support, and for those who have experienced a change in financial circumstances due to unforeseen events||Cannot be used for tuition fee payments|