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Postgraduate researcher FAQs

We know this is a very fraught and challenging time for PGRs - we're exploring every option to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on your research. 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.

You can send any questions that are not answered below 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. 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 (updated 18 May 2021)

  • 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?

EU and international PGRs (updated 27 July 2021)

  • Are there any travel restrictions for PGRs coming to the UK?
  • Will the University pay for my quarantine hotel stay on arrival in the UK?
  • Are there currently any attendance requirements for PGRs in the UK on a student visa?
  • I am concerned about getting a visa, or about the status of my current visa - what should I do?

Remote working (updated 27 July 2021)

  • How should I remain in contact with my supervisor/supervisory team if I continue to work 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 (updated 27 July 2021)

  • Can I currently access campus facilities to conduct my research?
  • What will working on campus from Monday, 19 July look like?
  • Are we able to hold meetings in person?
  • What Library services and resources can I access?
  • When will access to campus be fully restored?

Progression and assessment (updated 27 July 2021)

  • 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?
  • How will my viva be conducted?
  • 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?

Wellbeing (updated 18 May 2021)

  • 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?

Funding and financial support (updated 2 July 2021)

  • Will my project funding / stipend payments continue?
  • Can I apply for a funded extension to my research?
  • How many PGR extensions have been awarded due to COVID-19?
  • 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?
  • Can I make a claim for personally-incurred research-related expenses due to COVID-19?
  • 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?

Fieldwork, placements and travel (updated 27 July 2021)

  • Can I resume / start my fieldwork or a placement?
  • Is international travel for fieldwork / placements now permitted?
  • Will I be covered by the University business travel insurance policy for fieldwork or placement travel?
  • Can I attend events or conferences in the UK?

Research ethics (updated 18 May 2021)

  • 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 (updated 18 May 2021)

  • 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?

 

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.

 

EU and international PGRs

Are there any travel restrictions on PGRs coming to the UK?

All PGRs planning to travel to the UK should be aware of the current rules and requirements relevant to your circumstances before travelling. The situation is changing on a regular basis - for the latest information check our FAQ for EU / international applicants and offer holders.

Will the University pay for my quarantine hotel stay on arrival in the UK?

For all students (including PGRs) travelling from any designated 'red list' country, the University will reimburse the cost of a required quarantine stay in a government approved hotel. Find out more in our FAQ for EU / international applicants and offer holders.

Are there currently any attendance requirements for PGRs in the UK on a student visa?

Yes. Now that government restrictions have been relaxed, if you are in the UK on a student visa the UKVI requires that you have two in-person (not remote) 'interactions' with your supervisor / supervisory team in any rolling 4-week period.

I am concerned about getting a visa, or about the status of my current visa - what should I do?

Our general student COVID FAQ has a section for EU and international students. This includes advice on travel and visas which applies to PGRs travelling to the UK to study.

 

Remote working and travel

How should I remain in contact with my supervisor/supervisory team if I continue to work remotely?

PGRs and supervisors can now hold in-person meetings. However, if you are still working remotely you can request to continue meeting with your supervisor(s) remotely (e.g. via Zoom or Microsoft Teams).

Note that if you are in the UK on a student visa, UKVI currently requires that you have two in-person (not remote) 'interactions' in any rolling 4-week period to maintain your visa status.

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 currently access campus facilities to conduct my research?

The government has confirmed that from Monday, 19 July, England will move into step 4 of the COVID-19 roadmap, meaning that all legal limits on social contact will be removed. The University approach from Monday, 19 July will be the managed return of all remaining staff, students and researchers back to campus.

Rather than providing unrestricted access to campus over the summer period, the focus will be on increasing research and laboratory activity, postgraduate teaching, confirmation and clearing, and preparing for the new academic year.

Therefore, from Monday, 19 July you should continue to work as you are at present, unless you have been advised differently by your supervisor. The University advises that PGRs undertaking writing up work, data analysis and research which does not require access to laboratories or other specialist facilities should work from home and only travel to campus when necessary. 

PGRs already working on campus can continue to access specialist research facilities including laboratories and associated suites, as well as offices and special collections. PGRs can also access bookable workspaces for reasons related to mental health and wellbeing. You will be advised locally of any changes to the way you are working, for example removing limits on the number of people allowed in certain spaces.

What will working on campus from Monday, 19 July look like?

As part of our managed return to campus, we have adopted the following guidelines that will be in place until Tuesday, 31 August 2021:

  • We strongly recommend the continued wearing of face-coverings whilst moving around indoors on campus.
  • The legal requirement for social distancing will no longer be in place. However, consideration should be given to continue with social distancing measures in areas of the campus where it is possible to do so without restricting activity.
  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms or have tested positive, you are required to self-isolate and not come to work on campus for ten days. You can get further information on what to do on here.
  • We encourage PGRs working on campus to get tested twice a week whether you are displaying symptoms or not.

There is also a short Blackboard course called 'COVID19 Health & Safety', to help you to understand more about the virus and how to keep yourself and others safe, developed in conjunction with public health experts from our Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health and colleagues from the Students Union. See the 'My Communities' section of your course listing.

Are we able to hold meetings in person?

In-person meetings (including PGR supervisory meetings, laboratory and other research team meetings, annual review meetings, PGR examinations, workshops, etc.) can now take place provided that you follow all the appropriate COVID safety guidelines, including undertaking risk assessments. Please contact your local PGR support team for details on the Faculty processes you must follow. If you are on campus, we also strongly encourage you to wear a face covering while indoors and take regular COVID tests.

What Library services and resources can I access?

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?

Our expectation is that there will be no restrictions on campus access from Wednesday, 1 September, but we will confirm this on Thursday, 19August. Planning work is ongoing and dates remain tentative and are subject to change if the national situation should demand it. The latest information is available on the campus reopening Staffnet site. Your Faculty will stay in touch with you regarding your own access to specific campus facilities - if you have any queries, contact your supervisor or local PGR support team directly.

 

Progression and assessment

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

Yes reviews should still go ahead. 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 and the 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).

In-person reviews are now possible so long as all the appropriate COVID safety guidelines are followed, including undertaking risk assessments. We also strongly encourage all parties to take a COVID-19 test. Please contact your local PGR support team for information on the Faculty processes that you must follow for in-person reviews.

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.

How will my viva be conducted?

At this time vivas can be held in-person, remotely (via Zoom / Teams etc.), or a hybrid approach can be adopted whereby one or more members of the examination appear via a video link. 

You can request an in-person or hybrid viva via your local PGR support team. All the appropriate COVID guidelines must be followed, including undertaking risk assessments. We also strongly encourage all parties attending in-person to take a COVID-19 test.

For remote and hybrid vivas, internal examiners should record that all participants are happy to proceed with the specified format. We also recommend that an independent chair be appointed. The normal policy on applying for permission to conduct the viva remotely is currently waived.

Remote and hybrid vivas must be conducted using the technology that most suits the participants (e.g. Zoom or Teams) and an ID check must take place at the beginning of the viva (e.g. showing your student ID card or passport). 

Please refer to the full guidance on remote vivas and contact your local PGR support team if you have any further questions.

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.

 

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?

UKRI-funded:

Following the completion of Phases 1 and 2 of UKRI COVID-19 extension requests, the UKRI have updated their funding policy and released new eligibility rules. These apply for PGRs who are finding it difficult to adapt their research projects and require a funded extension. 

All UKRI funded PGRs are now eligible to apply for an extension, regardless of their programme start/end date.

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.

Requests for funded extensions can be for up to three months (only longer in exceptional circumstances). You must be able to justify why you need the length of time you request.

You can apply 6 months prior to your programme end date, or 12 months prior for part-time PGRs or those whose research is dependent on a period of essential fieldwork that was postponed or interrupted due to the pandemic (including placements for the purpose of data collection). 

If you’ve previously applied or been awarded a funded extension, but are still struggling to adapt your project, you can re-apply. You will only be granted an additional extension if exceptional circumstances apply.

Funding for awarded extensions will be sought from existing training grants (i.e. CDT/DTPs) and as such funding for any approved extension is conditional to underspend being available. Please contact your local PGR support team if you wish to apply for an extension to programme.

Other funded doctoral PGRs:

The University has made 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. 

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 who have caring responsibilities), and those with fieldwork that cannot be adapted.

You can apply for a funded extension of up to three months (or longer in exceptional circumstances) if you have have been unable to mitigate delays due to COVID-19 or adjust your research project.

You can apply 6 months prior to your programme end date, or 12 months prior for part-time PGRs or those whose research is dependent on a period of essential fieldwork that was postponed or interrupted due to the pandemic (including placements for the purpose of data collection). 

PGRs who have already received a funded extension for COVID-related reasons are not eligible to re-apply.

You should refer to the full guidance available in the Extensions due to COVID-19 Procedure for PGRs (UoM Processed Stipend) before applying. Please direct any enquiries and/or request the application form from your 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 first check if they are able to pay for additional living costs should you wish to apply for an extension.

Research England has provided £11.6 million of funding to English universities as a contribution to the work they are undertaking to support their PGR communitie. Our University has been allocated £526,000.

We have allocated some of this funding to support PGR students whose sponsors are unable to help fund extensions. Priority will be given to PGRs with the greatest need, who apply for and are awarded an Extension to Programme due to the impact of COVID-19. As the amount of money available is limited we cannot guarantee that all PGRs awarded an extension will be offered financial support. For those that are offered funding it will be capped at £500 per month of approved extension (up to a maximum of 3 months).

In order to apply for this funding, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Have applied for a COVID related extension on or after 1 April 2021.
  • Have no access to additional funding/support for living costs during the extension (evidence will be required).
  • Be within your tuition fee paying period (registered on programme) – i.e. not in submission pending.
  • Not have already received support from the University’s Hardship fund / Living Cost Support Fund.

You can submit a request for extension 6 months prior to your programme end date, or 12 months prior for part-time PGRs or those whose research is dependent on a period of essential fieldwork that was postponed or interrupted due to the pandemic (including placements for the purpose of data collection). 

Please refer to the Extensions Procedure document for details on how to apply for an extension (the award of any Research England money is a separate decision and as funding is limited it cannot be guaranteed). Contact your local PGR support team if you have any questions.

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.

Self-funded PGRs:

Research England has provided £11.6 million of funding to English universities as a contribution to the work they are undertaking to support their PGR communities. Our University has been allocated £526,000.

The University has allocated some of this funding to support self-funded PGRs. Priority will be given to PGRs with the greatest need, who apply for and are awarded an Extension to Programme due to the impact of COVID-19. As the amount of money available is limited we cannot guarantee that all self-funded PGRs awarded an extension will be offered financial support. For those that are offered funding it will be capped at £500 per month of approved extension (up to a maximum of 3 months).

In order to be considered for such funding PGRs must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Have applied for a COVID related extension on or after 1 April 2021.
  • Have had no access to additional funding/support for living costs.
  • Be within their tuition fee paying period (registered on programme) – i.e. not in submission pending.
  • Not have already received support from the University’s Hardship fund / Living Cost Support Fund.

You can submit a request for an extension 6 months prior to your programme end date, or 12 months prior for part-time PGRs or those whose research is dependent on a period of essential fieldwork that was postponed or interrupted due to the pandemic (including placements for the purpose of data collection). 

Please refer to the Extensions Procedure document for details on how to apply for an extension (the award of any Research England money is a separate decision and as funding is limited it cannot be guaranteed). Contact your local PGR support team if you have any questions.

For approved programme extensions due to COVID-19, the University will also waive any tuition fees due during the extended period.

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.

How many PGR extensions have been awarded due to COVID-19?

The University’s report on PGR COVID-19 extensions gives information about the number of extensions awarded and their length. This will be updated as further applications are received and considered. 

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 up to 30 September 2022 (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.

Can I make a claim for personally-incurred research-related expenses due to COVID-19?

Yes - we have created a PGR COVID-19 Expense Support Fund, using funds from the University’s Emergency Hardship Fund.

PGRs who have incurred unexpected costs related to their research programme due to COVID-19 can apply to this fund. This guidance document outlines what you can apply for and how to make an application. If you have any questions, email mdc@manchester.ac.uk.   

Due to the finite funds available, PGRs will be limited to one application per academic year. Awards will be capped at a maximum of £500, except required Hotel Quarantine costs which will be covered in full.

PGRs who have fallen into long-term financial hardship due to the pandemic should still apply to the Emergency PGR COVID-19 Hardship Fund (see FAQ below).

Is a hardship fund available to PGRs?

Yes - Manchester Doctoral College secured £200,000 from the University's Emergency Hardship 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, where your essential outgoings are greater than your income. 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 the Living Cost Support Fund for all non-COVID-19 related hardship support. The fund can award both small grants and loans, and is open to all students regardless of study mode or nationality. Find out more 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.

 

Fieldwork, placements and travel

Can I resume / start my fieldwork or a placement?

PGRs are advised to consider the necessity of any planned fieldwork, fieldtrips or placements in relation to the national (or relevant international) alert level and whether such activities should be delayed. PGRs wishing to travel to resume / start their fieldwork or placement must follow the guidance as detailed in the questions below.

Is international travel for fieldwork / placements now permitted?

If you need to travel overseas for fieldwork or a placement you must follow the overseas travel risk assessment process:

  • PGRs must seek approval from their Head of School or Director for all overseas travel.
  • Travel will only be approved when no virtual-based alternative form of contact/research/experience is available.
  • Where travel is proved to be essential, a travel risk assessment must be prepared to seek pre-travel approval.

Further guidance is available in our overseas travel risk assessment approval document and via the travel FAQs.

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 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.

Will I be covered by the University business travel insurance policy for fieldwork or placement travel?

PGRs who are required to travel for programme related work will be insured under the University travel insurance. Travel must be directly linked to an integral element of a University award-bearing programme of study.

Please visit the travel insurance page for the latest advice. We also recommend that you sign up for health alerts with our insurance provider AIG and download their travel assistance app if you are intending to travel. More information:

Can I attend events or conferences in the UK?

Yes. Following the lifting of national COVID restrictions on 19 July, PGRs are now able to attend events and conferences within the UK. You should make yourself aware of the event safety arrangements, guidelines and risk assessments prior to travel, and discuss any concerns with your supervisor(s) prior to attending.

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.