Claiming Universal Credit during 5th year of PhD. Advice/ Help.


Hi all,

I'm currently in my fifth year of my PhD - deadline is September 2020.

Since my funding ran out at the end of my third year, I have been juggling multiple jobs in order to live. My most recent job came to and end during early February because of funding. I still have some temp/zero hours contract work going - but this is not enough to cover rent/bills etc.

Now, because of this as well as the current situation with Covid19 affecting my ability to look for work, I had applied for Universal Credit. I initially told them that i was a full-time student and they instantly rejected my application. I contacted the university's financial team for advice and they suggested that I challenge this because my status as student is 'currently writing-up, previously full-time' - so i changed my status on my UC application, and then it got accepted. I am now receiving UC - which is great news. However i am filled with anxiety and concerns that I have been given money that i am not eligible for.
What if i will get prosecuted? What if i can't produce evidence for them that confirms I am in my writing up stage and therefore not a full time student?

I tried to get student finance support when i was first rejected by UC, but i got rejected for this too. WIthout UC i have nothing. I feel PhD students out of their funding periods are in limbo and go off the radar.

Has anybody been in this situation? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


This all seems to hinge on some vague description of whether or not you are "technically" still a full time student.

You really need to get some independent advice on this from perhaps Citizens Advice.

A simpler method might be to phone the UC hotline and tell them exactly what you've said here.


You are no longer registered as a full-time student. Therefore if you meet the UC criteria (not having x amount of savings etc etc and agreeing to seek for a jobs for 35 hours a week and demonstrate this - in normal circumstances anyway) then you would be eligible to receive UC.


Thank you for sharing!


If you get benefits, I think there is a requirement to apply for jobs and talk to a person at the job centre every two weeks? If you are getting benefits you need to be available to do work immediately. If you are not, then you should not apply for benefits. I was unemployed for a few months after PhD but decided to not apply for benefits because I was writing up.


Hi Morbid_curiosity. I am actively looking for work despite being in my writing up stage and I am available immediately for work.