Funding issues


======= Date Modified 21 Oct 2011 09:50:01 =======
Hi, I'm 2 years through my PhD in chemistry, I'm funded by EPSCR through a DTA.

I've recently found out that I must conduct a minimum of 3 years research (no surprises there) and will be allowed 1 year to write up.

My institution will only provide 3 years of funding, with funding for the 4th year (the writing up year) being entirely discretionary.

I also know that my institution overspent on discretionary funding last year, thus the chance of me getting 4th year funding is very slim.

Is this actually allowed? I thought that if you were EPSRC funded, you must recieve the minimum stiped each that year you are registered on the course.

My institution treats 'writing-up status' as its own, special category - which I think they use as justification for not paying a maintenance whilst writing up.

Trying to get digestible information out of uni or EPSRC is practically impossible - but I could do with knowing whether writing my thesis is going to bankrupt me!

To put it in simpler terms, when you are EPSRC funded at what point does your stiped stop?



======= Date Modified 21 Oct 2011 10:57:59 =======
When I started my PhD in 2005 EPSRC funding was a standard 3 years funding, It was considered that a PhD took 3 years, although very few finished in less than 3.5 years. At my University the regulations stated that you had to submit within 4 years. But you only received 3 years funding as the course was technically only 3 years long and beyond this you are/were considered to be over-running, and were in a seperate 'phase' i.e. you are no longer on the course, paying tuition fees etc, but you haven't submitted yet. This is the way it has wored for a long time, most people go some period of time between funding running out and actually submitting.

However I thought that EPSRC studentships were now (from ~2007/2008) 3.5 years funding, this was certainly the case at my department, perhaps not everywhere then??

I would imagine that you would be bound by whatever funding conditions you agreed to at the start of your PhD, you might have a cause for complaint if your University is funding you for less time than EPSRC think they are, but I've no idea what if anything you could do. I would investigate what the rules are for discretionary funding within your department, before your current funding runs out.


The thing that really annoys me is that I will not be allowed to move to writing-up status unless I have completed a minimum of 3 years lab work. Therefore the university rules prevent me from completing my PhD in the time that the university has allocated for it.
In the world of employment, this would be deemed an unfair, and thus unenforceable contractual clause.


Is the 3 years lab work a definate rule of the University, or just something you are being told by your Supervisor or Department? As it does seem a little harsh, my department allowed you to write up when you had enough material, but I am aware of people who found ways of getting around lab rules similar to those you mention, try asking final year students in your lab/department, they probably know...

Sadly PhD's don't seem to follow employment rules, as (usually) you are a student and not an employee.

If I were you I would investigate what whether standard PhD studentships are 3 or 3.5 years, if 3.5 years try and find out why you are getting less, secondly find out what you need to to to be eligable for discretionary funding. It may be the case that your department have 3.5 years funding for each student, but they don't automatically give it to everyone incase they finish early and then essentially get paid for nothing, thinking you will run out of funding soon really motivates you to finish quickly... If this isn't the situation, and you have to make a case for additional funding it is very useful to know in advance what grounds might allow you to get this additional funding at the discretion of the department.


Finally found out the answer to this and it's rather shocking...

EPSRC guarantees 4 years of research funding, but due to the rules of Doctoral Training Accounts, uni is allowed to fudge this substantially.

They take 3, 4-year scholarships and jiggle them into 4, 3-year scholarships...thus getting more research bang for their buck.

My Uni rules state that a minimum of 36 months research needs to be done (and is funded for the full 36 months) - with the funding for any extension being discretionary.

The EPSRC do not fund writing up, thus when you move to writing up status - you're money will stop. (who knows how the EPSRC expect you to pay rent and eat during this peroid)