Phase 3 COVID Funding Extension Scheme

Guidance and Regulations governing University of Brighton funded studentships: Phase 3 COVID Funding Extension Scheme  

Introduction  

On the 24 March, the UKRI announced a new set of measures (UKRI Phase 3) relating to the rules of doctoral funding for those affected by the pandemic – you can read the full details here. The University of Brighton, considering these measures, has agreed to support a Phase 3 COVID-19 extension policy for postgraduate research students funded, in full or in part, by University of Brighton (UoB). Phase 3 will be open to applications from 1st September 2021. The Phase 3 process for UoB students is designed to match that in place for UKRI funded students to ensure as far as possible an equitable approach. 

If the progress of a research project has been impacted by COVID-19 and UoB funded doctoral research students wish to apply for an extension to their funding under this scheme, they should complete an application form in consultation with their supervisor or other relevant academic.  

Phase 3 will run from 1st September 2021 until 31st August 2023. The Doctoral College will undertake periodic reviews of the scheme and may amend or withdraw it at any time.  

Eligibility  

The Phase 3 scheme is open to University of Brighton (in full or in part) funded doctoral students who are within 6 months of the end of their funding period and who have not yet submitted their thesis.  

Mitigation  

Before making an application, doctoral research students and supervisory teams should discuss the progression and scope of their projects in an ongoing COVID situation. All possible avenues for repurposing the project with an aim to submitting within the remaining period of funding should be considered and relevant mitigating action taken.  

Rationale for the extension  

All funded students were encouraged to maintain a COVID impact log at the outbreak of the pandemic. Where possible, students applying for an extension should submit details from their COVID impact log with their application form.  

The impact log is likely to contain details of the COVID impact on the progression of the project and any mitigation processes that have been carried out.  

The application form, together with impact log should demonstrate:  

  • Why the extension is needed, and how it was exclusively related to COVID. 
  • That COVID-related impact occurred within the student’s funded period. 
  • Why no alternative, viable mitigation was possible. 
  • That the work to be undertaken during the funded extension is exclusively related to the research project (see invalid reasons below). 

The supervisory team must be able to certify the compliance of the application with these criteria. Supporting documentation, where available, should also be included.  

Timing of Application  

Applications for funding extensions will be allowed within six months of the end of the existing funding period of the student (which may be different from the end of registration).  

Students may apply at any time within this six-month window. There will be no fixed rounds or deadlines for application.  

The Doctoral College COVID-19 extension will assess cases as they are submitted.  

Extension Details  

i. Funding Extension Coverage 

Any funding extensions granted will be confined to fees and stipends. Extensions for RTSG, project costs, conference attendance and travel costs are not covered.  

ii. Length of Funding Extension 

Applications for this scheme may be for up to three months, but should only be made for the actual time required to complete the research project and submit a thesis capable of meeting the minimum requirements for a doctoral degree.  

When evaluating the extra period of time that may be required, the emphasis should be on the quality of the thesis, rather than the quantity of material that:  

  • it might contain;
  • it might have originally been planned to contain;
  • it might be desired to contain. 

Applications will be evaluated by the Doctoral College extension panel based on the individual circumstances of the case. The duration of any funding extension granted may be the same as that applied for, it may be shorter, or the application may be declined.  

Applications for longer than three months funding extension will be returned to the applicant.  

The funding of any extension will only start once the initial funding has ended. Payments will cease at the end of the funding extension or within the next month following the submission of the thesis, whichever is the sooner.  

iii. Extensions to the Extensions  

Only one application per funded student is permitted under Phase 3. Once the period of any funding extension ends, any fees and/or stipend payments will cease. No further funding extensions to the approved funding extension will be permitted.  

Students who received an extension under the previous COVID-19 Phase 1 or Phase 2 PGR extension scheme may apply to this current scheme, but any further extension granted under Phase 3 will only be awarded in truly exceptional situation, where there has been a major, significant and COVID -related change in the circumstances since the previous funding extension was granted.  

iv. Extensions to Registration

Depending on the relative end dates of funding and of maximum registration, if a funding extension is granted, an extension to registration may or may not be required.  

v. Periods in Suspension 

Before making an application for an extension, students should consider whether their circumstances are such that a suspension might be more appropriate. During a period of suspension, fees are no longer payable and any stipend payments stop. Students should discuss the merits of this with their supervisory team or other relevant staff member.  

vi.  Tier 4/Student Visas 

Students studying on a Visa should discuss the implications of any funding extension with the Visa compliance team.  

Submitting an Application  

A student wishing to apply for a funding extension should undertake the following:  

  • Check their eligibility criteria. 
  • Discuss the extension with their supervisory team. If a student does not wish to disclose sensitive personal issues to their supervisor, they should discuss their case with another relevant staff member, who may be able to replace the role of the supervisor in supporting the application. 
  • Complete the application form, no more than six months before the end of their funding and upload to PhD manager together with the impact log and any other relevant evidence. 
  • Respond to any further requests for information from the Doctoral College

i. Completing the Application

When completing their application (see below for forms), students should state what has been achieved since 1st March 2020 and during the periods of lockdown (e.g., thesis writing, data analysis, paper writing etc.), the exclusively COVIDrelated disruptions they may have had to their research and the mitigation and adjustment that has been put in place.  

The supporting case (max 500 words) must include details of the reasons for the extension to the funding request. A non-exhaustive list of eligible (and ineligible) reasons for an extension is provided below.  

Applications that do not make the case that the disruption has been exclusively due to a COVID-19 related impact will be rejected.  

ii. Evidence

Please submit as much evidence to support your application as you are able and willing to provide. The Doctoral College is aware that during the pandemic it may not have been possible to gather the level of evidence that may normally be required and will take this into account  

iiiAssessment of extension request  

The funding request will be evaluated against the evidence supplied in the application form, i.e. the COVID-19 related case made, the impact log and any other evidence supplied. The Doctoral College may request additional information or evidence from the student, supervisory team, or other relevant parties.  

iv. Valid reasons for extension

The following is an indicative and non-exhaustive list of circumstances relating to extension requests. The list may be altered during the lifetime of the scheme without notice.  

The application form asks applicants to select from the following list and then to expand with a narrative explanation on each that apply.  

In all of the situations below, applicants should be able to demonstrate that the doctoral level thesis will be submitted within the extended funding period.  

  • Project Related: 

– interruption of data collection due exclusively to COVID-related closure of an experimental laboratory where the use of equipment within was essential to the progression of the project.  

– cancellation/postponement of fieldwork where this fieldwork was essential to the progression of the project.  

– lack of access to physical academic resources (texts, equipment etc.) where these resources were essential to the progression of the project.  

AND (in any of the above) there is academic consensus that no reasonable mitigation could be put in place in the time available or the project could not be adjusted within the time frame to enable a doctoral level thesis submission within the funding period.  

  • Failure of Mitigation: 

– There is academic consensus that the COVID related mitigation and/or adjustments of the project that had been put in place which, at the time, was judged to be able to lead to the submission of a doctoral level thesis within the funding period, but which has now subsequently not been shown to have been successful.  

  • Illness and/or Caring Responsibilities: 

– You or someone you care for became ill for a prolonged period of time with COVID -19 and you can demonstrate why you did not suspend your registration.  

–  An exclusively COVID-19-related impact on your supervisory team, such as neurodivergence, existing or new prolonged illness or necessity to shield due to extreme clinical vulnerability, that can be demonstrated to have affected your supervision or progress of either research or writing AND where the University was unable to provide alternative supervision  

– Increased caring responsibilities exclusively as a result of COVID -19 that has resulted in a prolonged reduction in progress on the research project, and for which no reasonable mitigation or project adaptation could be put in place to enable submission within the funding period.  

  • Significant adverse impact on progression in the research project arising exclusively from the effects of COVID-19 on a pre-existing or new illness. 
  • Protected Characteristics or ED&I reason: 

– Significant and exclusively COVID-19 related impacts arising from any protected characteristics (e.g., age, disability, race) that has resulted in a prolonged reduction in progress on the research project, for which no reasonable mitigation or project adaptation could be put in place to enable submission within funding period.  

  • COVID Redeployment: 

– Redeployment to work on COVID-19 related research or other action but only where the redeployment time could not be accommodated under other policies, such as suspension.  

  • Other: 

– Other considerations that can be attributed to COVID-19 and evidenced in the case that has resulted in a prolonged reduction in progress on the research project.  

 v. Invalid reasons for extension

The following are examples of reasons that the panels may disregard in assessing the need for an extension.  

  • Time lost to COVID -19 where no reasonable mitigation was put in place and/or no attempt to alter the project accordingly has been made. 
  • Mitigation has been put in place, but it has not yet failed, or had a chance yet to fail. 
  • Undocumented reduction in contact with supervisors. 
  • Illness unrelated to COVID-19 (students should use existing processes and speak to the Doctoral College for further advice or options available to them). 
  • Lack of access to desk space per se on campus where there are no other aggravating COVID-19 related circumstances. 
  • Reduction in contact, social or otherwise, between peers. 
  • Low speed of residential internet connections , e.g, where frequent and continual transfer of large data sets is required and access to campus internet (including eduroam) has been denied under active campus arrangements. 
  • Postponement/cancellation of conferences or workshops. 
  • The reason for the need for the extension is as a result of:

– undertaking new projects unrelated to the original research project or follow-on work, unless this was as a result of the planned COVID-related mitigation;  

– undertaking teaching duties.  

  • Other circumstances the panel deem insufficient or inappropriate to establish the need for an extension. 

Activities during funding extension  

The time spent in funding extensions must be exclusively to complete the research project and to submit the doctoral thesis. The funding extension must not be used for:  

  • writing or publishing papers (other than as thesis chapters or as part of a three-paper-PhD), reports or monographs (whether previously planned or not), but carrying out urgent revisions in response to referee comments is permitted;
  • pursuing new avenues of research, additional projects or follow-on work;
  • undertaking any work that is not directly related to the submission of the thesis, including staffing/helping to run laboratories or equipment, undertaking teaching, outreach, placements or other activities. 
  • attending conferences, workshops or undertaking non-essential training. 
  • any other activities unnecessary for the submission of the thesis. 

The programme of work to be undertaken during the funded extension must realistically be able to be completed during the extension and to be included as part of the thesis.  

The thesis should be submitted as soon as possible during any granted funding extension period (and before the end of maximum candidature – extended or otherwise).  

Outcome  

Each application will be considered by the Doctoral College COVID-19 extension panel. Further information may be sought from the applicant, their supervisory team, funders and other relevant staff members. The full period of funding extension applied for may be granted, some of it, or none. The decision of the Doctoral College is final.  

Review of Policy  

This policy may be reviewed and amended or withdrawn at any time. Notifications of changes will be communicated by email to all University of Brighton postgraduate research funded students 

See also:

Extension application forms

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