This update is for postgraduate research students, to clarify what my lobbying priorities to the University these past weeks have been for you and what has been agreed so far.
Extending your studies
Firstly, a tangible guarantee – I have secured a commitment from the University that any PGR who extends their period of supervised study, or goes onto a continuation period, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, will have tuition fees for this period waived.
This, of course, leaves the question of covering stipends/living expenses for that period of extension. There can be no guarantees about this, but I can assure students this is very much on the radar of both the University and various Research Councils. UK Research and Innovation yesterday updated their position on this, envisaging some funded extensions being provided with funding coming from grant underspend where possible (read more here, under ‘Training Grants/Students’). Funding for future years is already being evaluated as to whether it can be repurposed to support current students who need it. This will have to be considered case-by-case, but I have faith the University is doing its best to find funds and target them towards those who will need it most, including those who are not funded by a Research Council route.
Mitigating in the best way possible
This brings me onto the idea of ‘need’. In order to try and mitigate as best possible for the most students, I want to endorse the University’s stance on making adjustments to your planned research, as noted in the FAQs for PGRs circulated last Thursday. This can be summed up as:
All of these should of course be done in discussion with your supervisor. While extending is of course going to be no-one’s first choice, I hope the security that tuition/continuation fees will not be charged means that if this is what’s right for you, this is a less daunting option.
What else do we need clarity on?
Whilst there is still much to be agreed, I am trying to clarify several other points for PGRs including but not limited to:
Whilst I work on these, if there are any other concerns you have that you wish me to factor into my discussions with the University, please do let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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