I know COVID-19 has affected research massively and the universities don't know what to do about PhD student extensions. Can someone help me understand the extensions options or say what their university is offering?
As I read that UKRI is unilaterally offering fully costed PhD extensions for all their final year PhD students (see link below), which includes. But my university is being very coy about extensions and bursary extensions. They will only approve extensions close to submission date and will consider financial support on a case by case basis. The department seems reluctant to give firm details and says I should focus on finishing on time first. Which I think is inappropriate as if my bursary is ending in September, I need to know to look for a job. I just think if the government is offering free extensions we should be allowed to take them. Is anyone else in a similar position and what has your department told you?
PS: My PhD is funded via EPRSC and so should be covered by this.
I can only tell you that my friend, who is Microsoft-funded, has had her funding extended for an extra year. This is despite having already collected her data and being ready to write up. It seems to be driven by the fact that things are so uncertain at the moment rather than the idea that it would be impossible or challenging for her to submit on time.
I hope you get somewhere with your uni.
Thankyou for the advice. I am sorry about the delay but I wanted to reply with some updates.
I found out I have an "EPRSC style" PhD but internally funded. So the university has offered me a free 6 month extension without stipend. However, the head of my research group might fund a 3 month stipend and organise teaching support contracts. It is rather annoying but I can't do anything about it.
I'd be inclined to push for a stipended extension, and collate evidence as to why you weren't able to work.
University polices are seldom rational, but academic dispute panels usually are, so if you raise a dispute and clearly evidence that covid didn't just mean working from home (as that's not alone a great reason to be delayed); but that you were unable to collect primary data, access essential lab equipment, or pastoral reasons such as a sudden caring responsibility etc., you should hopefully find common sense prevails.
A non-stipended extension doesn't seem fair to me since it's effectively furloughing you without any income. The UKRI policies are broadly reasonable so if you're funded by one all you should need to do is ensure your Uni doesn't administratively drop the ball in administering it (sadly, likely, and you'll need to send multiple emails typically to ensure they don't screw up).
If it's an an institutional level, evidence of how this affected your research is key. Collect and collate. Universities in general have been bombarded with extension requests, and often have to sift legitimate reasons vs an assumption covid = free 6 month holiday. This is not as good a deal or policy as blanket extensions; but it's always worth arguing your case as the squeaky wheel very often gets the grease.
I agree with the points above. The Russell Group University I am at would likely just dismiss such a dispute, and do so a year after raising it. My Engineering PhD is experimental and I am in the same situation as Rewt, although his sounds slightly better in that there may be a possibility of funding an extension. My stipend is associated with an EPSRC 'programme' grant. EPSRC 'training' grants fund PhD stipends and those who have them will get funded extensions. Programme grants shouldn't fund PhD students in any way although some associated with such grants manage to get conference funding.
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