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Postgraduate researcher FAQs

As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted across the UK, we remain committed to keeping you, our postgraduate researchers (PGRs), safe. For the latest advice, please follow the UK government’s coronavirus guidance.

You can send any questions that are not answered below to your supervisor and/or your local PGR support team. Manchester Doctoral College (MDC) continues to work collaboratively with PGR reps to address your concerns - we welcome your feedback at mdc@manchester.ac.uk.

Click the links below to jump to the appropriate section of this page.

 

Support and contacts

Local PGR support teams

 

Access to and safety on campus

Is campus open?

Yes, campus is currently open as ‘normal’ although some COVID-19 safety guidelines are in place to keep everyone safe.

What support is available for DASS-registered PGRs returning to campus?

If you receive support from our Disability Advisory and Support Service (DASS) and think this may need to be reviewed because you’re returning to on-campus research, please email DASS

 

COVID-19 safety, testing and vaccination

What safety measures are in place on campus?

Our priority is to continue to keep staff, students and PGRs safe and to minimise any disruption that could come from increased transmission on campus.

We strongly encourage you to wear a face covering when moving around indoors, unless you have a medical exemption. Wearing a face covering may be required in some areas or circumstances as part of local risk assessments.

Sanitiser dispensers will continue to be available at key points around campus. We encourage you to observe good hand hygiene.

The University is no longer legally required to provide free lateral flow tests, but you can continue to order these for free online or from your local pharmacy until 1 April 2022.

When should I self-isolate?

While there is no longer a legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test for COVID-19, if you do test positive it’s important to stay at home, avoid contact with other people for at least five full days and continue to follow the guidance until you have received two negative test results on consecutive days.

You should continue to report a positive COVID-19 test result. This will help us to make timely decisions about any changes we need to make to our guidance. Follow the instructions on our COVID-19 student safety page to notify the University of your result.

Support is available if you’re self-isolating – for further information, see our self-isolation guidance for students.

Do I need to have the COVID-19 vaccine to come to campus?

No, you don't have to be vaccinated to come onto campus. However we strongly encourage all staff and PGRs to get vaccinated (if possible), including boosters. Find out more about vaccination and testing.

 

EU and international PGRs

I am currently overseas researching remotely, when will I be required to come to Manchester?

The University is continuing to support students with student visas who need to study remotely in line with the published UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) guidance. UKVI guidance confirms that Student route (previously Tier 4) immigration sponsors can continue to sponsor current students who will study at a distance during the 2021/22 academic year, providing that students intend to transition to on-site research as soon as possible, until 30 June 2022. This is a change from the previously published date of 6 April 2022. 

Where can I find advice on travel and visas?

If you're travelling to join us on campus from overseas, you'll find advice on travel and visas in our international students FAQs.

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

Yes. If you are in already 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 four-week period until 30 June 2022.

 

COVID-19 programme extensions and financial support

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 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 - unless there are significant new COVID-related mitigating circumstances that were not previously included.

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 or sponsored students where you receive a stipend or 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 communities. 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 or 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 or 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.

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 or support for living costs.
  • Be within their tuition fee paying period (registered on programme) – i.e. not in submission pending.
  • PGRs who have already received support of £1500 via another University hardship scheme (e.g. the Living Cost Support Fund or PGR COVID Hardship Fund) will not be considered for this funding. PGRs who have received University support of less than £1500 will be considered, but may see that amount deducted from any Research England support awarded.

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. 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 University of Manchester-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.

Can I claim for any research-related personal expenses I've incurred due to COVID-19?

Yes - any PGR who has incurred unexpected costs related to their research programme due to COVID-19, can now apply to our new PGR COVID-19 Expense Support Fund. This is possible thanks to funds from the University's Emergency Hardship 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, awards will be capped at a maximum of £500 per PGR per academic year.

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 rescoping your project or 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?

 Please visit research FAQs and useful links for more information.

 

Fieldwork, placements and data collection involving human participants

Can I undertake fieldwork or a placement?

Yes, PGRs wishing to travel (both within the UK and internationally) for fieldwork or a placement are permitted to do so but must follow all the University health and safety requirements, gain the necessary approvals and undertake the relevant risk assessments.

The process is summarised on the travel flowchart.

 If you have any questions regarding overseas travel for fieldwork, placements or events please contact your supervisor or local PGR support team. 

Can I continue to collect data involving human participants?

The Government have now announced that as of 24 February 2022 all restrictions imposed in relation to COVID-19 in England will be removed and that it is the responsibility of all individuals to take appropriate precautions and preventative measures to reduce the spread of the virus in the community. Based on this, the University has taken the following decisions in relation to research activities of staff and students:

  1. A COVID specific risk assessment will no longer be required in order to undertake face-to-face (in person) data collection activities. However, researchers will still be required to submit completed risk assessments as part of their ethics applications should the specific methodology or location of the research make it necessary. This should be authorised by the appropriate individual within the School (i.e. supervisor, line manager or School Safety Officer).
  2. The COVID addendum to the participant information sheet will remain a requirement for all research studies (i.e. both those requiring formal ethical approval as well as those classed as an ethical exemption) undertaking face-to-face (in person) data collection activities until further notice.
  3. As of 1 July 2022, the requirement for the Programme Director to apply for specific permission in order for UG or PGT students to undertake face-to-face data collection activities will be lifted. Students will need to check with their course convenor, module lead, supervisor or Programme Director for specific information related to what types of activities are permissible for their specific course or programme.

Please note, the above decisions have been taken in relation to research activities in England only. For research activities taking place in other UK nations (i.e. Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) or in one of the Crown Dependencies, please refer to local guidance for more information about any remaining restrictions that may be in place. Research activities abroad must also continue to follow local regulation and guidance.

Researchers conducting face to face research on University premises, or on the premises of other organisations are expected to follow any guidance that applies to those premises. For guidance related to University of Manchester premises, please see the latest message on StaffNet - Living with COVID.