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Postgraduate researcher FAQs

Last updated 14 April 2021

This is a very fraught and challenging time with many stresses and adjustments – we appreciate it must be incredibly difficult for all PGRs. As ever, we hugely value your work and contribution to the University and will do everything we can to inform and support you as this situation develops.

We're exploring every option to alleviate and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your research. The University’s Senior Leadership Team have allocated funds to support PGRs with a funding end date between 1 March 2020 and 31 March 2021 - further information about extensions can be found below. 

If you have specific questions that are not addressed below please feed these through to your supervisor and/or your PGR support team. Manchester Doctoral College (MDC), including the Students’ Union PGR officer, meets at least weekly to discuss PGR concerns. PGR reps from each Faculty join us for monthly briefings on the University’s position and provide input. The MDC will continue to work collaboratively with PGR reps to address your concerns - we welcome your feedback at mdc@manchester.ac.uk.

We also have regularly updated FAQs on research, staff and students for additional information (including health and travel advice).

You can also find questions about the COVID-19 vaccination programme on our staff FAQs

Support and contacts

  • Local PGR support teams
  • Students' Union

Reporting illness

  • What should I do if I (or someone I live with) has symptoms of COVID-19? Do I need to report this to the University?
  • My illness is not related to COVID-19, do I need to report this to the University?
  • I need to self-isolate, is there any support or guidance available?
  • Do I need to provide a medical certificate for a sick leave or interruption application, if my illness is related to COVID-19?
  • Is the University prioritising groups of staff / PGRs to receive the vaccine?

Remote working

  • Can I apply for an interruption?
  • Should I stop working now while non-essential facilities remain closed?
  • What if I am unable to continue my research remotely?
  • How should I remain in contact with my supervisor/supervisory team whilst working remotely?
  • How can I get access to MATLAB?
  • Can I request IT equipment and/or furniture to help me work from home?
  • I’m having problems accessing online learning, where can I get support?
  • Can I request additional software / equipment specific to my research area?
  • Can I access a University PC cluster remotely? 

Access to campus and facilities

  • Can I access campus facilities to continue my research during the current national lockdown (January 2021)?
  • As a postgraduate research student am I considered an essential worker?
  • What Library services and resources can I access?
  • When will access to campus be fully restored?
  • Is there guidance for how to stay safe when accessing campus?
  • Do I need to wear a face covering while on campus an in University buildings?

Progression and assessment

  • Will I still need to do my annual review/continuation review?
  • Can I let my examiners know about the impact COVID-19 has had on my research / thesis?
  • I am due to submit my thesis, is this still possible?
  • I have a viva scheduled, will this still go ahead?
  • Can I take additional electronic devices into my viva?
  • My programme requires the completion of taught units. How will I complete these?
  • I have completed my viva remotely and additional research / lab based work is required, however I cannot access my lab, what should I do?
  • I am currently on an approved Interruption from study but am due to return. Can I still return?
  • Can I transfer to part time study if I can’t work remotely on my research full time at the moment?
  • My supervisor is returning or is involved in clinical duties due to COVID-19 and this may impact on their ability to provide me with supervision/guidance, what should I do?
  • My programme requires the completion of taught units. How will I complete these?
  • Will my graduation ceremony still take place?

Support and wellbeing

  • Are the University wellbeing support services still available?
  • How can I look after my wellbeing whilst working from home?
  • I have an existing condition, I am registered with Disability and Advisory Support Service but I am too ill to study remotely. What should I do?
  • Is a hardship fund available to PGRs?
  • Can I still apply to the Living Cost Support Fund?
  • While working from home can I claim for help towards my increased household expenses?

Funding

  • Will my project funding / stipend payments continue?
  • Can I apply for a funded extension to my research? [funding end date between 1 March 2020 and 31 March 2021]
  • Can I apply for a funded extension to my research? [funding end date on or after 1 April 2021]
  • What support is available for self-funded PGRs?
  • I have been granted a UoM-funded extension due to COVID-19. If I submit before the extension deadline, will my stipend payments stop?
  • Will the University refund part of my tuition fees?
  • Will I still need to pay a submission pending fee if my submission pending application is approved?
  • Where can I find COVID-19 advice and information from the major funders of grants and studentships?

Fieldwork, placements and events

  • I am currently away from the University conducting fieldwork or on a placement. What should I do?
  • I have fieldwork or a placement scheduled to start soon - can I still go?
  • I am registered to attend an event/conference. Should I go?
  • Can I make a travel insurance claim if travel arrangements for a trip related to my research have been cancelled?

Research ethics

  • What should I do if my research/project involves face-to-face contact with people? What research involving human participants should stop?
  • Can I continue to collect data involving human participants?
  • I want to do some research into COVID 19, how can I get ethical approvals?
  • Do I have to seek an amendment to my ethical review if I need to extend the end date of my data collection due to the coronavirus situation?

Training and development

  • What is happening with training and development workshops for PGR students? 
  • We are hosting a PGR led event, should we cancel it?
  • How do I get support with Research Data Management?

Other topics

  • I work as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA). What happens to that role now that we have moved to remote working?
  • I am worried about my visa status. What should I do?
  • Where can I find information or get support regarding my accommodation?

 

Support and contacts

Local PGR support teams

Students' Union:

For advice, email advice.su@manchester.ac.uk

 

Reporting illness

What should I do if I (or someone I live with) has symptoms of COVID-19? Do I need to report this to the University?

Yes - if you or someone you live with have COVID-19 symptoms, you should follow the instructions detailed on the Staying Safe on Campus webpage. If you test positive for COVID-19 you MUST notify the University by completing this online form. You should also inform your supervisor and PGR support team. If you are unable to carry on with your research you may self-certify for a period of up to 14 calendar days.

My illness is not related to COVID-19, do I need to report this to the University?

Yes, please inform your supervisor and local PGR support team. You may self-certify for a period of up to 14 calendar days.

I need to self-isolate, is there any support or guidance available?

Yes - we have created an online resource for any students who need to self-isolate. This will be updated regularly in line with national and local guidance. You can also send any questions to a dedicated team at coronavirus-isolation-support@manchester.ac.uk.

Do I need to provide a medical certificate for a sick leave or interruption application, if my illness is related to COVID-19?

No. Although usually an application for sick leave or interruption due to illness must be accompanied by a medical certificate (see section 10.b. of the UoM Interruptions Procedure of Postgraduate Research Students), this will not be applied to illness related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes COVID-19 itself and other mental or physical conditions linked to the pandemic and the government response to it - these may be new or exacerbations of existing conditions. PGRs should consult the terms and conditions of their funder for details on their sick leave allowance and potential stipend payments during this period.

Is the University prioritising groups of staff / PGRs to receive the vaccine?

The national roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine continues, following the priority groups outlined by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. The University has no control over when our staff, students or PGRs are offered the vaccine - we will not be keeping any records of which people have or haven’t had the vaccine and it won't be mandatory to have it before returning to campus. We are however supporting Public Health England’s campaign which encourages people to have the vaccine - doing so will help protect you, your family and our University community. You can find out more in our recent statement about the vaccine.

 

Remote working

Can I apply for an interruption?

Yes, please follow the interruptions procedure for PGRs.

Should I stop working while non-essential facilities remain closed?

No. PGRs will be expected to continue working on their research remotely, if possible, until further notice. Please follow guidance issued by IT Services on support to work remotely and discuss with your supervisor tasks that can be reasonably completed whilst remote working. If your main supervisor is unavailable, please liaise with your supervisory team.

For further information about accessing campus and facilities at this time, please refer to the 'access to campus' section of this FAQ.

Some useful links relating to data management include:

What if I am unable to continue my research remotely?

If you are unable to continue working, you should make your supervisor aware of this and discuss the options with both your supervisor and your local PGR support team; these options might include an interruption or extension request, depending on the length of time you are impacted and your personal circumstances. You may also be able to access campus where your research requires access to specialist facilities including laboratories and associated suites and offices and specialist collections. If you are considering an extension application please refer to the 'funding' section of this FAQ.

How should I remain in contact with my supervisor/supervisory team whilst working remotely?

Following the introduction of a new national lockdown on 4th January 2021 it is the University’s position that all PGR and supervisor/advisor meetings must be held remotely. Provided that your supervisor is in good health and therefore working, contact should be maintained remotely (e.g. by email, phone or Zoom) until further notice. If your main supervisor is unavailable, you should liaise with other members of your supervisory team. All eProg milestone deadlines should continue to be met.

How can I get access to MATLAB?

The University has a licence to download and install the full suite of MATLAB products on to staff and students’ own or University-provided computers. This will enable teaching and research to continue more easily whilst we are all working remotely. Further details regarding access, installation and who to contact if you have technical issues are available on BMH announcements.

Can I request IT equipment and/or furniture to help me work from home?

Yes. We are aware that some PGRs may not have all the equipment needed to allow them to work from home. As such, the University has put in place the following processes so that PGRs can acquire the necessary equipment:

Laptops: Any PGRs who are struggling to work at home using their personal or University equipment, can request a standard laptop from the University. Due to the limited supply of loan equipment, please use your own devices or the remote desktop service wherever possible. If you do not have a device, you can request the loan of a University laptop by following the process detailed on the IT Services Website.

Office furniture: The University’s Furniture Store has invested in new supplies of recycled office desks and chairs – please visit the StaffNet site or email simon.atkinson@manchester.ac.uk for more information.  If you require an item from the Furniture Store please speak with your supervisor first to gain their approval before contacting the Furniture Store directly.  If the Furniture Store can supply the item you will have to arrange collection from campus, taking into consideration the current national restrictions on travel and our coming on to campus guidance. If you are unable to go to the Furniture Store to collect items you should speak to supervisor who may agree to fund delivery of items to your home.

Purchasing smaller items: From Thursday, 14 January 2021, PGRs will be able to ask their supervisor if they can purchase items up to the value of £50 to help them work from home.  Items may include things like footrests, keyboards, a mouse etc.  You must gain approval from your budget holder before making any purchases.  You can use the usual expenses process to claim back what you have agreed can be spent using the reference: ‘Small items for working from home’.  Please bear in mind before making a request to your budget holder that they will have to fund any equipment from existing budgets so they may not always be able to approve your request.  It will also not be possible for PGRs who have purchased and paid for small items themselves prior to 14 January 2021 to retrospectively claim for these through the expenses process.

Requests for monitors and other accessories over £50 which cannot be purchased using the expenses system as outlined above, should always be requested via the local requisitioning team in your School/Department office. IT Services do not usually provide or fund these. Local requisitioning teams should refer to the current guidance on purchasing and payments for goods and services.

I’m having problems accessing online learning, where can I get support?

We are introducing a single email address that you can contact for support with accessing the University network, online learning and assessment: helpmegetonline@manchester.ac.uk

Can I request additional software / equipment specific to my research area?

Please liaise with your supervisor about your requirements so they can assess what options are available and formally put forward a request for additional support where appropriate.  Further information on the process is available on the staff FAQs.

Can I access a University PC cluster remotely?

Yes, the University now allows PGRs to remotely connect to PCs in computer clusters using the Remote PC service. This easy-to-use service means you can download software to access the cluster PCs, or you can even access them using your web browser.

 

Access to campus and facilities

Can I access campus facilities to continue my research during the current national lockdown (January 2021)?

Following the introduction of a UK national lockdown on 4 January 2021, you can only leave home to do your work where it is unreasonable for you to do it from home. These legal restrictions apply to all PGRs and you must continue your research from home if possible.

Access to specialist research facilities will be permitted for PGRs, where their research cannot reasonably be conducted from home. This will be done on a priority needs basis if necessary to manage demand - details of these priority areas are available in section 14 of the updated Guidance for Research on Campus. These specialist facilities include laboratories and associated suites and offices and special collections. There is no access to staff offices or other general facilities. This is aligned with government guidelines.

Research activity on campus must continue to adhere to these organisational principles:

  • Activity onsite should be limited to use of the facility and/or equipment.
  • Writing up work, analysing data and other work which does not require staff to access laboratories or other specialist facilities on campus should continue to be done remotely from home.
  • All meetings should be online – this includes PGR and related supervisory meetings, laboratory and other research team meetings, workshops and other events.

We recommend that you speak to your supervisor or local PGR support team for more detailed information about access to campus facilities during this period and also refer to the campus reopening website for the latest updates.

PGRs who require access to bookable workspaces for reasons related to mental health and wellbeing are also permitted to do so.

PGRs who are on campus must observe the COVID safety rules that are in place - including holding meetings online and following instructions for moving around and using buildings. On-campus COVID testing is also available to all PGRs. Also, to help you to understand more about the virus and how to keep yourself and others safe, the University has developed a 40 minute COVID-19 awareness course in conjunction with public health experts from our Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health and colleagues from the Students Union. The course is called 'COVID19 Health & Safety' and is available in Blackboard now, via the 'My Communities' section of your course listing.

PGRs who require a letter from the University stating that they can be on campus and are permitted to travel for this purpose can request this via their local PGR support team.

If your research involves face-to-face data collection, fieldwork or travel please read the FAQ on Data collection and the updated restart guidance.

As a postgraduate research student, am I considered an essential worker?

Not in most cases. Essential or key worker status is only afforded to PGRs responsible for research and other activities to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and for other essential research activity necessary to meet regulatory, legal, health and safety or other on-going requirements. This would include long-running research which cannot tolerate a break, those looking after living resources (e.g. animals, plants or bacterial cultures) or hazardous materials, or those whose presence is required for the maintenance of equipment and facilities. 

If you qualify as an essential worker under the above definition and you require a letter to this effect, please contact your local PGR support team

What Library services and resources can I access?

During the current national lockdown (introduced January 2021), the Library is working hard to keep crucial sites open for PGRs who still need to access campus. You can find full details on the resources and services available at this time on the Library website.

You can still access one of the most extensive collection of digital resources in the UK from any location and device. You can search and access this electronic content using Library Search and/or install browser extensions which provide easier access to the Library’s subscribed e-content.

If the Library does not hold electronic copies of the books that you need, there is the order a book service and the resource will be procured where available. The order an article service is also open and if the Library does not hold an electronic copy of the article needed, this can also be obtained by completing the order form.

The Library has also been working closely with publishers to provide access to additional e-resources, including e-books, during the period of the COVID-19 outbreak on a temporary basis. More information is available on the Library resources website.

When will access to campus be fully restored?

The latest information regarding access to campus is available on the campus reopening Staffnet site. Planning work is ongoing  and detailed plans and guidance will be updated as they become available. Information specific to your own ability to access campus facilities will be communicated to you directly by your Faculty as plans progress. Please refer to all the FAQs in this section and if you have any queries please contact your supervisor or local PGR support team directly.

Is there guidance for how to stay safe when accessing campus?

Yes - you should strictly adhere to the guidance on working safely in labs and research facilities during coronavirus (COVID-19). Also please refer to the Keeping safe on campus: Guidance for PGRs document. Safety measures include, but are not limited to:

  • Social distancing of 2m
  • Wearing face coverings
  • Regular hand sanitation

To help you to understand more about the virus and how to keep yourself and others safe, the University has developed a 40 minute COVID-19 awareness course in conjunction with public health experts from our Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health and colleagues from the Students Union. The course is called 'COVID19 Health & Safety' and is available in Blackboard now, via the 'My Communities' section of your course listing.

Do I need to wear a face covering while on campus and in University buildings?

Yes, you should wear a face covering inside our buildings in public areas where other people are present - including teaching spaces. Please refer to the University face covering guidance for full details. The University will provide you with two free washable face coverings. Please contact your local PGR Support Team for details on how to collect these. Please follow UK government guidance on how to wear a face covering and how to keep face coverings maintained.

 

Progression and assessment

Will I still need to do my annual review/continuation review?

Yes, reviews should go ahead remotely. This will provide you with the opportunity to consider your progress over the last year, discuss any impact that COVID-19 has had on your research and agree any further support that may be required during the next progression period.

Supervisors and reviewers will take into account the extent of any disruption caused to your planned programme of work andthe review will focus on providing constructive feedback rather than a judgement on your progress (where there are progression issues unrelated to the disruption caused by COVID-19, normal policy will be followed).

Can I let my examiners know about the impact COVID-19 has had on my research / thesis?

Yes, as further acknowledgement of the disruption that the pandemic has caused many of our PGRs the University is encouraging PGRs who wish to make their Examiners aware of the impact COVID-19 has had on their research plans / thesis to prepare an Impact Statement for inclusion with the examination copy of their thesis. Examiners will be asked to take these statements into account when assessing the thesis, and PGR at viva.

Details on what is required in the statement and how to include it in your thesis have been added to the Presentation of Thesis Policy (section 6.3) but please also refer to the guidance document, discuss this with your supervisors and contact your local PGR support team if you have any further questions.

I am due to submit my thesis, is this still possible?

Yes. All PGRs are required to submit their thesis electronically but the University won’t require physical copies of the thesis until further notice.

I have a viva scheduled, will this still go ahead?

All vivas should either be conducted remotely or postponed to a later date. If vivas go ahead remotely, internal examiners should record that all participants are happy to proceed. The normal policy on applying for permission to conduct the viva remotely is currently being waived .

Remote vivas must be conducted using the technology that most suits the participants (e.g. Zoom). An ID check must take place at the beginning of the viva (e.g. showing your student ID card/Passport). Please contact local PGR support team, if you have any further questions  and also refer to the guidance on remote vivas.

Can I take additional electronic devices in to my viva?

Yes, if you don’t have a hard copy of your thesis, you can take in one additional electronic device from which to access it during the examination. This device should be declared to examiners at the start of the viva and should be muted with internet access disabled. Further information on viva examinations held by video link is available here.

I have completed my viva remotely and additional research / lab based work is required, however I cannot access my lab, what should I do?

Please contact your supervisor and your local PGR support team for further guidance.

I am currently on an approved Interruption from study but am due to return. Can I still return?

Due to the current position of remote working, you should discuss your return from interruption with your supervisor and local PGR support team.

Can I transfer to part time study if I can’t work remotely on my research full time at the moment?

It may be possible to transfer to a part-time programme of research, but this will be dependent on your programme, the terms and conditions of your funder (if you are funded) and government guidelines and visa status. You should therefore contact your supervisors and local PGR support team to discuss your options.

My supervisor is returning or is involved in clinical duties due to COVID-19 and this may impact on their ability to provide me with supervision/guidance, what should I do?

We understand some supervisors are returning to clinical duties which may impact on their ability to provide the usual level of supervision/support. In these cases please liaise with your co-supervisor where possible and also contact your local PGR support team if this is likely to impact on any upcoming deadlines.

My programme requires the completion of taught units. How will I complete these?

PGRs should follow local guidelines around seminar programmes and all teaching and training events will be delivered according to instructions from the course organiser.

Will my graduation ceremony still take place?

For updates on graduation ceremonies, check the University's Graduation pages.

 

Support and wellbeing

Are the University wellbeing support services still available?

Yes, the University’s support services and the Togetherall (a free 24/7 online mental health and wellbeing support service) are also available to all PGRs. There is also useful advice on the PGR Life wellbeing page.

The Counselling and Mental Health Service will deliver a series of workshops over the summer. These have been tailored in response to the particular challenges COVID-19 poses in looking after and supporting mental health and wellbeing. To stay updated on the programme as it develops and register for workshops, visit the Counselling Service pages.

How can I look after my wellbeing whilst working from home?

We recognise that during this uncertain time remote working is not easy. Here are some excellent ideas about how to manage this and stay well. You can also refer to the guidance on our PGR Life website.

I have an existing condition, I am registered with Disability and Advisory Support Service but I am too ill to study remotely. What should I do?

Please contact your supervisor/supervisory team and Faculty/School PGR support team for advice. Further information can also be found on the DASS website. You should follow the most recent NHS advice at all times.

Is a hardship fund available to PGRs?

In response to the pandemic, an Emergency Hardship Fund was created thanks to over a million pounds in generous donations from alumni, staff, students and friends of the University. Manchester Doctoral College have been successful in securing £200,000 from the fund to support PGR students in financial hardship due to the pandemic.

The fund is now open for PGRs facing real and demonstrable financial hardship. For full details on eligibility and the application process please refer to the PGR COVID-19 guidance document.

Can I still apply to the Living Cost Support Fund?

Yes, PGRs are still eligible to apply to this fund for all non-COVID-19 related hardship support. The LCSF can award both small grants and loans, and is now open to all students regardless of mode of study or nationality. You can find further details on the student support pages.

While working from home, can I claim for help towards my increased household expenses?

PGRs who also have a contract of employment with the University may be able to make a claim towards increased household expenses in the form of income tax relief through Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). For further details and to check if you are eligible to make a claim please visit the HMRC website.

 

Funding

Will my project funding / stipend payments continue?

Many PGRs are understandably concerned about their research and funding. During this period, all PGRs who are still within their funded period and in receipt of a studentship or funding processed by the University, will continue to receive their stipend payments up to the end of their current funded period. If you have any issues, contact with your local PGR support team.

Can I apply for a funded extension to my research? [funding end date between 1 March 2020 and 31 March 2021]

UKRI funded Doctoral PGRs: UKRI offered funded programme extensions of up to six months for Doctoral PGRs with a funding end date between 1 March 2020 and 31 March 2021, who had not yet submitted their thesis, and whose research had been affected by the pandemic. The deadline for applying for these extensions has now passed. If you have any questions, please contact your local PGR support team.

Other funded PGRs: Other funded PGRs with a programme end date between 1 March 2020 and 31 March 2021, who are in receipt of a stipend processed by the University, should continue to keep a log of any lost time. You will be able to submit a request for an extension within three months from your funding end date (programme end date) in order for you to better assess the length of extension required. Part-time PGRs should submit their request within six months of their funding end date (programme end date). The University will cover the cost of approved programme extensions up to six months relating to COVID-19 where your funder is unable to financially support an extension period. The University will cover extensions up to UKRI standard stipend rates. Please refer to the full guidancehere: Extensions Due to COVID-19 Procedure for Postgraduate Researchers (Phase 1).

Externally funded/sponsored students where the PGR receives their stipend/living costs directly from their sponsor: If you receive your stipend or living costs directly from your sponsor (rather than the University), you will need to check if your sponsor is able to pay for any additional living costs should you wish to apply for an extension. The University is not able to fund living costs in these circumstances.

Salaried Research Fellowship Holders: If you are funded through a doctoral fellowship and your salary is processed by the University, then you should refer to the terms and conditions of your funder. If your funder cannot support the costs of an extension, the University will cover the cost of approved extensions of up to six months for tuition fees and a stipend at UKRI rate. Please contact your local PGR support team for advice.

PGRs in 'submission pending': You can apply for an extension to your submission pending deadline of up to six months, by providing an evidence-based case for why you are unable to complete the writing up of your thesis during the submission pending period. Applications for an extension to your submission pending deadline should be made within three months of your submission deadline – they will be considered under your local extension request process.

PGRs who have been examined and referred for re-submission of the thesis: You can apply for an extension to your re-submission deadline of up to six months, by providing an evidence-based case for why you are unable to re-submit your thesis by the required deadline. Applications for an extension to your re-submission deadline should be made within three months of that deadline – they will be considered under your local extension request process.

Can I apply for a funded extension to my research? [PGR funding end date on or after 1st April 2021]

Thank you for your patience waiting for updates on funded extensions. We recognise that this has been a stressful and difficult time, and for many of you the pandemic has meant that your research and training plan has not progressed as you expected.

With support from your supervisors and local PGR support teams, you should continue exploring ways to complete your research to the doctoral standards detailed in the QAA doctoral characteristics document, within your funding period. For further guidance see the Rescoping PhD projects in response to COVID-19 impact: Guidance for Supervisors and the new advice on doctoral standards for research students and supervisors document.

Where more time is required for writing up only, it may be advisable to apply for submission pending or it may be possible to be awarded an extension to submission deadline without need for a funded extension of programme. Your local PGR support team will be able to advise you. Those PGRs who still feel that they are unable to complete their research to deadline can apply for up to three months funded extension (or longer in exceptional circumstances). For application guidance please see below.   

UKRI-funded Doctoral PGRs: UKRI have confirmed that they will make limited additional funding available on a needs-priority basis to PGRs funded by them. Funded extensions of up to three months (or longer in exceptional circumstances) will be made available to those who have been unable to mitigate delays due to COVID-19 or adjust their research project, and have a funding end date on or after 1 April 2021. In line with UKRI guidelines, priority will be given to those with a funding end date between 1 April 2021 and 30 September 2021 (inclusive), and those with ongoing support needs (for example: disabled PGRs, those with a long-term illness, those who are neurodivergent or those who have caring responsibilities). PGRs with fieldwork that cannot be adapted will also be prioritised. Please note that PGRs who have already received a funded extension for COVID-related reasons and those who started their programme on or after 1 March 2020 are not eligible to apply.

Other funded PGRs: In line with UKRI, the University will make limited additional funding available, on a needs-priority basis, to PGRs funded directly by the University - or those in receipt of a stipend processed by the University, where the funder cannot support costs of any approved extension. Funded extensions of up to three months (or longer in exceptional circumstances) will be made available to those who have been unable to mitigate delays due to COVID-19 or adjust their research project, and have a funding end date on or after 1 April 2021. Priority will be given to those with ongoing support needs (for example: disabled PGRs, those with a long-term illness, those who are neurodivergent or those who have caring responsibilities), and those with fieldwork that cannot be adapted. Please note that PGRs who have already received a funded extension for COVID-related reasons and those who started their programme after 1 March 2020 are not eligible to apply.

  • Applicants may submit a request for an extension within six months of their funding end date. Part-time PGRs may submit their request within 12 months of their funding end date.
  • PGRs whose research is dependent on a period of essential fieldwork (including placements for the purpose of data collection) postponed or interrupted due to the pandemic will be permitted to apply for an extension within 12 months from their submission end date.
  • Please refer to the full guidance available in the Extensions due to COVID-19 Procedure for PGRs (Phase 2 UoM funded) before applying.
  • PGRs should direct any enquiries and/or request the application form from their local PGR support team.

Externally funded/sponsored students where you receive a stipend/living costs directly from a sponsor: If you receive your stipend or living costs directly from your sponsor (rather than the University), you must check if they are able to pay for additional living costs should you wish to apply for an extension. The University is not able to fund living costs in these circumstances.

Salaried Research Fellowship Holders: If you are funded through a doctoral fellowship and your salary is processed by the University, then you should refer to the terms and conditions of your funder. If your funder cannot support the costs of an extension, the University will cover the cost of approved extensions of up to three months for tuition fees and a stipend at UKRI rate. Please contact your local PGR support team for advice.

PGRs in 'submission pending': You can apply for an extension to your submission pending deadline of up to six months, by providing an evidence-based case for why you are unable to complete the writing up of your thesis during the submission pending period. Applications for an extension to your submission pending deadline should be made within three months of your submission deadline – they will be considered under your local extension request process.

PGRs who have been examined and referred for re-submission of the thesis: You can apply for an extension to your re-submission deadline of up to six months, by providing an evidence-based case for why you are unable to re-submit your thesis by the required deadline. Applications for an extension to your re-submission deadline should be made within three months of that deadline – they will be considered under your local extension request process.

What support is available for self-funded PGRs?

Self-funded PGRs with a programme start date before 1 March 2020 should keep a log of any lost time. They will be able to submit a request for an extension within six months from their programme end. Part-time PGRs should submit their request within 12 months of their programme end date.

For approved programme extensions due to COVID-19, the University will waive any tuition fees due during the extended period. Please refer to the relevant guidance document:

Self-funded PGRs can also apply for support with living costs during any approved extension period via the University’s Living Cost Support Fund or the PGR COVID-19 Hardship Fund. You can also request information on a new Tuition Fee payment plan by emailing self.funding@manchester.ac.uk.

I have been granted a UoM-funded extension due to COVID-19. If I submit before the extension deadline, will my stipend payments stop?

If you are awarded an extension but submit before the end date of the extension, the University of Manchester (in line with current UKRI Training Grant terms and conditions) will continue to pay your stipend for the remaining financial quarter or up to the extension end date (whichever comes first) and then payments will cease. The end of financial quarter dates are 31 December, 31 March, 30 June and 30 September.

Will the University refund part of my tuition fees?

We expect PGRs to be continuing with their research, and the University continues to support all PGRs to achieve their outcomes. As such we will not be refunding tuition fees. If you are struggling to conduct your research remotely, please contact your supervisor and local PGR support team to discuss an interruption / extension request.

Will I still need to pay a submission pending fee if my submission pending application is approved?

The University will waive the submission pending fee for any PGR with an original programme / funding end date between 1 March 2020 and 30 September 2021 (before any COVID-related extension may have been applied), regardless of their funding source. If you meet the end date criteria and your submission pending application is approved then the fee will be waived automatically. If you have any questions please first contact your supervisor or local PGR support team.

Where can I find COVID-19 advice and information from the major funders of grants and studentships?

Visit research FAQs and useful links for more information.

 

Fieldwork, placements and events

I am currently away from the University conducting fieldwork or on a placement. What should I do?

Following the UK national lockdown (January 2021), if you are a PGR on fieldwork or placement in the UK this activity should be stopped - unless it can be conducted safely and you have permission to proceed. If you continue then risk assessments will need to be reviewed and approved by the relevant Head of School. PGRs should discuss this with their supervisor and local PGR support team. Please also refer to local government coronavirus guidance on National Health Service and Public Health England. For advice on foreign travel please refer to The Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

I have fieldwork or a placement scheduled to start soon - can I still go?

Following the introduction of the national lockdown (January 2021) it is advised that all fieldwork, fieldtrips or placements are postponed until such time as restrictions are eased. Where postponement is not possible then all risk assessments will need to be reviewed and approved by the Head of School. In all cases you should refer to the Guidance on Resuming Research Activity in the COVID-19 Environment. This covers research involving travel - including field-based activity, research involving direct/in-person contact with human research participants (on and off campus) and research conducted on the premises of an organisation other than the University of Manchester (including PGR placements). If you have any questions regarding fieldwork/placements please contact your supervisor or local PGR support team.

I am registered to attend an event or conference. Should I go?

Under the UK Government national lockdown rules (January 2021), you can only leave home for work where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home. Therefore you should not attend events and conferences while these restrictions are in place. PGRs should discuss any concerns with their supervisor.

Can I make a travel insurance claim if travel arrangements for a trip related to my research have been cancelled?

Trips need to have been approved by supervisors for the claim to be valid. If this is the case, please visit the University’s latest guidance on what to do in the event of travel disruptions due to coronavirus.

 

Research ethics

What should I do if my research/project involves face-to-face contact with people? What research involving human participants should stop?

It remains the University’s position that current research involving participants should be conducted remotely wherever possible. While social distancing measures are in place, the resumption of research involving direct contact with research participants will require additional research governance approvals. For full details please refer to the Guidance on Resuming Research Activity in the COVID-19 Environment

Can I continue to collect data involving human participants?

Data collection which does not require direct personal contact can continue during this period - such as via Skype, telephone or electronic surveys/questionnaires. Where possible, projects should be adjusted to be conducted remotely. Research will only be permitted to continue face-to-face if there is an exceptional reason such as clinical need or a significant ethical rationale for non-immediate cessation. Any continuation of face-to-face research will require University approval - please refer to the Guidance on Resuming Research Activity in the COVID-19 Environment. Advice is also provided via links below:

  • For information about how to adapt your project or continue a project on exceptional grounds that has NHS REC approval, go to the Faculty Research Governance website
  • For information about how to adapt your project, or continue a project on exceptional grounds that has UREC approval, go to our research ethics page

I want to do some research into COVID 19, how can I get ethical approvals?

If your research involves NHS patients, visit Sponsorship Approval.

If your research does not involve NHS patients, visit Research Ethics.

Do I have to seek an amendment to my ethical review if I need to extend the end date of my data collection due to the Coronavirus situation?

For details about studies that have NHS Research Ethics Committee (NHS REC) approval please refer to the Health Research Authority.

University-approved studies that have been approved via the University Research Ethics Committee or through a Department/Division/School process via the Ethical Review Manager (ERM) and have an ‘End Date of Data Collection’ listed as any time between the 15 March 2020 to 15 September 2020 will automatically have their end date extended to the 15 March 2021.

The ERM system will still generate Progress/End of Study Report notices according to the original date of ethical approval. If you are still collecting data when completing your Progress/End of Study Report, please indicate when data collection will end and that your study has been granted an automatic extension as outlined above.

Important note for students:

This extension ONLY affects the ethical approval for data collection in your study. Submission deadlines for theses and dissertations etc are set and managed by your study programme and are handled separately by the programme. You should seek additional clarification and advice from your Programme Director, Tutor or School Administrator if you are uncertain about your submission deadline.

 

Training and development

What is happening with training and development workshops for PGR students? 

Faculty training teams and the Library My Research Essentials team have moved to online delivery where possible.. If you have any further questions please contact the appropriate training provider:

We are hosting a PGR led event, should we cancel it?

All PGR-led events or seminars scheduled for the current academic year should be cancelled, postponed or if possible converted to an online equivalent. If you would like to reach out to other researchers, or promote online materials, please contact your local PGR support team.

How do I get support with Research Data Management?

Two online resources which cover some of the content that face to face training sessions would normally go through are available via Research Data Management and Research Data Explained. Both can also be accessed through the MRE webpages. PGRs can also request support directly from the Research Services team

More general information is also available via the MRE blog in response to the challenges now being faced by researchers. Regular updates are posted via the Library twitter handles @UoMLibResearch and @mlemanchester.

 

Other topics

I work as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA). What happens to that role now that we have moved to remote working?

GTAs will be expected to deliver their scheduled, contracted teaching online where possible. In all circumstances, GTAs will receive payment for the work they were contracted and scheduled to undertake, whether they are able to deliver this online or not. The guidance for online teaching and learning provides practical ‘how to’ guides and advice on how to provide and deliver teaching content online. To supplement the online guidance a new Yammer Group - Teaching & Learning Online Network (TALON) – has been set up for staff to share their skills and expertise in online learning and offers a forum for colleagues to share tips and guidance.

I am worried about my visa status. What should I do?

For the latest information, check the University's student immigration and visas page. This includes advice for current students about their visa status during COVID-19.

Where can I find information or get support regarding my accommodation?

For any advice regarding your accommodation in Manchester, either on campus or privately rented, please refer to the student accommodation FAQs and information for applicants and offer holders.