Information For UKRI Scholarship Holders

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This information is for all holders of a UKRI scholarship award. It covers students funded by the following Research Councils:

AHRC BBSRC EPSRC ESRC MRC NERC STFC

UKRI Policy Documents

All UKRI-funded doctoral awards are governed by the UKRI’s terms and conditions for training grants.

There is additional council-specific guidance for the AHRC, ESRC and MRC.

Students who are funded by the UKRI should ensure that they are familiar with the terms and conditions of their award and the specific requirements of the Research Council that is supporting their research, in addition to the information outlined below.

Students should also read the University’s Code of Practice for Research Degree Programmes, which contains information on registration and fees, changes to student status, supervision, the Doctoral Development Programme, thesis preparation and submission and the examination process. 


Tenure of the award

Length of the award

The length of a student’s award will be stated in the offer letter confirming the award, or in the nomination confirmation. Continuation of all awards is contingent on students making satisfactory progress throughout their degree programme.  This includes passing the Confirmation Review [add new link] in line with the University’s requirements. 

Submission date

UKRI expects doctoral projects to be designed and supervised in such a way that students are able to submit their thesis within the funded period, as defined at the outset of the project. Provision can be made to extend the funding period in specific cases e.g. where an approved leave of absence is taken.

Extensions to the submission date 

Timely submission of the project is a requirement of both UKRI and the University, and both students and supervisors are required to work towards this end.

Extensions to submission dates will only be considered under conditions specified by the UKRI’s terms and conditions. Submission dates can be extended to take account of an approved period of leave of absence. In such cases, the scholarship award will normally be suspended for the duration of the absence and will resume when the student returns to study. Exceptions apply in the case of sickness and maternity (see below). 

While Research Councils will normally extend a submission date to take account of any period of absence/suspension notified during a scholarship, only in exceptional circumstances will they consider extending the target date for submission on account of difficulties that arise during the continuation period. Extensions will not be granted retrospectively for difficulties or periods of absence that were not notified at the time.

Holidays

Reasonable holidays, a minimum of 30 days to a maximum of eight weeks per year to include public holidays is recommended and should be allowed for by supervisors (pro rata for part time Students).  


Employment 

Full-time students are not encouraged to take up employment until after submitting their thesis.  Students will find it much more difficult to finish writing their thesis whilst also in employment. The UKRI will not grant extensions to the submission deadline on the grounds that a student has taken up employment. 

Students should note that if they take up full-time employment whilst still receiving their scholarship award, they will not be eligible for a stipend of any kind from UKRI and may be required to pay back stipend and fees that they have received since their employment started. A student in part-time employment may be eligible for a part-time award.

Undertaking paid work

Students may undertake teaching or demonstrating work when this is compatible with their training and provided that this is approved by their supervisors. The total time spent (including preparation and marking) should not interfere with the progress of the doctorate. The amount of time is at the discretion of the student and supervisor, but it is recommended that this is no more than six hours in any week. It must not be compulsory and must be paid for at the usual rate and supported by appropriate training. Costs for demonstrating or teaching must not be taken from the Training Grant 

Students may undertake a small amount of other paid work, either in term time or vacation. UKRI does not, however, encourage such work especially during the times when students are expected to be engaged fully in research training and thesis preparation. 


Location of study 

The student is expected to remain resident in the UK, and close to the institution at which they are registered, throughout the period of their award. The University expects all students, including those funded by UKRI, to attend regularly and to maintain contact with their supervisor and the wider university throughout their degree, in accordance with the Code of Practice. The student and supervisor should make appropriate arrangements for maintaining regular contact during any extended period of fieldwork away from their institution.


Finance 

Award details

A fully-funded full-time UKRI-funded student will receive a maintenance stipend at least equal to their Research Council’s minimum rate, tuition fees, and a Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) (to support incidental costs of research training, such as travel and conference attendance) and payment of additional allowances as detailed below.  A fully-funded part-time UKRI-funded student will receive the same on a pro rata basis. 

A fees-only UKRI-funded student will receive tuition fees, and a pro-rata Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) (to support incidental costs of research training, such as travel and conference attendance) and payment of additional allowances as detailed below.

UKRI will not pay continuation, extension or resubmission fees. The student is expected to pay these fees out of pocket if incurred. 

Payment

UKRI pays tuition fees directly to the University. Maintenance payments are made by the University on a quarterly basis in advance and paid directly into the student's bank account. The maintenance grant for each quarter is calculated from the first day of the relevant month. Students can provide their bank details to the University by logging in to MUSE, going to the 'Quick Links' section, and choosing the option 'University Payments Bank Details'.

Research Training Support Grant (RTSG)

The Training Grant includes a Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) component. This is a contribution towards costs incurred in training research students e.g. the provision of consumables, equipment, travel, etc. The RTSG is not intended to relieve you of any part of your normal expenditure.

Disabled Students Allowance (DSA)

If a student has a long–term disability and as a result of that disability they are obliged to incur additional expenditure in connection with their studies, they may be eligible for an extra allowance. This can cover costs relating to non-medical personal assistance, items of specialist equipment, extra travel costs and general expenses. Any requests for DSA must be made and agreed in advance of the student committing any expenditure for which UKRI funding is sought. No awards can be made for retrospective purchase of any equipment, facilities or personal assistance in connection with a student's disability. Departments should undertake the assessment of need and provide costs for the student when they are required and will be able to claim back eligible costs at the end of the academic year by submitting a completed DSA claim form to UKRI by 31st October or, if the Training Grant is in its final year, including costs in the Final Expenditure Statement.

Further information can be found in UKRI’s Disabled Students’ Allowances Framework Document and associated information at: https://www.ukri.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/UKRI-150421-DSA-Framework-March-2021.pdf

Additional allowances/funding opportunities for AHRC and ESRC-funded students

Students who are in receipt of AHRC (WRoCAH) funding or ESRC White Rose DTP funding may be eligible for additional funding for specific activities and should refer to guidance on the following websites. 

WRoCAH:

DTP1 (2014-2018 starters)

DTP2 (2019 - 2023 starters) 

ESRC WRDTP. Note - you must be logged into your VIRE account to access the forms and guidance


Skills training

UKRI expects its funded students to receive appropriate training and support to complete a high-quality doctoral thesis and to develop the knowledge and skills necessary for future employment. The University provides this training via the Doctoral Development Programme (DDP). Information on other training opportunities for specific Research Councils can be found on their individual websites.


Suspension of awards

Leave of absence

Scholarships are intended to be held on a continuous basis, without a break. Sometimes, however, a student may need to take a break from their programme of study. This may arise for a number of reasons, e.g. to cover a period of maternity or illness, or due to personal or family reasons. A leave of absence (LOA) may be requested during which the student takes an approved break from their studies. During the leave of absence, the student is not entitled to receive a maintenance grant or tuition fees, unless their LOA is on medical or parental grounds (see below). Requests for leave of absence will not be approved for the purpose of employment, temporary lectureships, exchange visits, voluntary service overseas or expeditions/sport.

Leave of absence can be approved, provided that:

  • The total period/s of absence during the tenure of the scholarship does not exceed 12 months, other than in exceptional circumstances. An award will normally be extended by the length of the leave of absence, as will the student’s fee-paying period, if they are still in this period, and their time limit. Any period of leave of absence will also be taken into account when calculating the submission date.
  • The supervisor has given their permission for the student to suspend their studies. For CASE awards, the collaborative partner must also indicate their approval of any requested suspension period.
  • The request is made in advance: retrospective requests are not normally accepted.

If the maintenance grant covering all or part of the proposed period of suspension has already been paid then the University may ask the student to repay the amount that has been overpaid.  At the end of the LOA, payment of the award will resume unless the student further requests an extension of their LOA. Please refer to the Code of Practice for details on applying for a leave of absence.

Unauthorised Absence

If a student is absent from their degree without formal authorisation this must be reported to Research Services, who will ensure that appropriate steps are taken to contact the student regarding their situation and, where appropriate, to ensure that the scholarship award is suspended.

Short-term Illness

The minimum period of leave of absence that will normally be granted is four weeks (i.e. 28 days or over in length). Exceptions to the minimum limit will be considered under certain circumstances, such as where there is a statutory requirement (e.g. paternity leave, jury service).  Where a student needs to take a short-term absence from their degree of under four weeks (up to a maximum of 27 days), they may request an authorised absence, or use some of their holiday entitlement, depending on the reasons for the absence. Neither option will extend the student’s expected end date for their degree; therefore, students will be expected to manage their time accordingly and make up for any time lost due to short-term absences over the remainder of their degree.

Leave of absence on medical grounds

Payment of a scholarship can continue for absences covered by a medical certificate for up to 13 weeks within any 12-month period. If the illness lasts, or is expected to last, for more than 13 weeks, the scholarship will be suspended and the expected submission date will be extended correspondingly. In such circumstances, the student should seek advice from SSID about other possible sources of financial support. The student must follow the University’s procedures for requesting a leave of absence.

Maternity, Paternity and Adoption leave

UKRI funded students are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave if the expected week of childbirth will occur during the period of their award. The earliest maternity leave can commence is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth. The first 26 weeks should be paid at full stipend rate, pro-rated as necessary for part time students. The following 13 weeks should be paid at a level commensurate with statutory maternity pay. The final 13 weeks are not paid. Partners are entitled to up to two weeks paid Ordinary Paternity Leave on full stipend. Ordinary Paternity Leave cannot start before the birth and must end within 56 days of the birth.

Partners are also entitled to an extended period of unpaid parental leave, up to a maximum of 50 weeks, with their studentship extended accordingly. Unpaid parental leave must be completed within 12 months of the birth of the child. This leave may be taken in up to three blocks of leave or all at once. Adoption leave should be granted on the same basis as maternity leave. There is no qualifying period for maternity, paternity or adoption leave. Additionally, their studentship end date should be updated to reflect the period of leave.

Students who do not return to the University to complete their studies following their maternity/adoption leave will be required to pay back any maternity/adoption stipend received.

For students undertaking a 1+3 programme, due  to  the  structured nature  of most  taught  research training  programmes,  students  who take maternity  leave during  any  research  training  programme  are expected  to  re-join  their course  at the  stage  at  which  they  left  it,  ie in  order  to  ensure that  all elements  of  the training are  successfully  completed in advance  of their  doctoral  study.  This  may  require  taking  a  full  52 weeks  of  maternity  leave,  but  this  would depend  on the  structure  of the  course  and  the frequency  in  which training  is  provided. 

To apply for maternity, paternity or adoption leave, please refer to the Code of Practice.

Early submission of a doctoral thesis

Students may submit their thesis prior to the end of their award.  Where the student  continues to undertake work that is directly linked to their thesis, it is permissible to continue their funding from the Training Grant until the end of the quarter in which the thesis is first submitted.  Where the student submits on or after the original end date of their award,  funding must cease on the original award end date. 

Withdrawal

If a student is considering withdrawing from their studies, they should discuss this matter first with their supervisor or departmental Postgraduate Lead or Head of Department. If, following careful consideration and discussion, they still wish to withdraw, they should follow the University's procedures for requesting a withdrawal and submit the relevant form to Research Services, ensuring that the effective date of the withdrawal and brief reasons for the decision are included.

Entitlement to scholarship payments ends from the date on which the award terminates. If an award is prematurely terminated for any reason, e.g. because the student withdraws, the student must repay to the University any monies including maintenance grant, fieldwork contribution, etc that has been overpaid to them.


Changes of Candidature

Transferring between full-time and part-time study

Students may, in exceptional circumstances, apply to transfer from a part-time to a full-time scholarship or vice-versa. UKRI will not normally approve a change of mode of study for  health reasons unless medical evidence indicates that part-time study is feasible and full-time study is not.  A single change in the mode of study may be approved without prior consent from UKRI; any subsequent changes must have prior approval from the relevant Research Council.  Likewise, a change of mode of study in the final six months of a studentship requires prior approval. 

If a student transfers status, they will be subject to the terms and conditions relating to that new status. The length of their scholarship and submission date will be recalculated accordingly. They may be asked to re-pay any overpayment of maintenance already received

To request a transfer, students should first contact their supervisor, who must give their approval. They should follow the University's procedures for requesting a Change of Candidature.  

Downgrading from PhD to MPhil

If a student downgrades from a doctoral-level qualification, e.g. PhD/EngD, to an MPhil, either voluntarily, or as a result of a failed Confirmation Review, the scholarship award will be reduced in length in line with the normal registration period for MPhil, i.e. to two years, or to the point of thesis submission, whichever is soonest. If this happens beyond the end of the normal period of registration, you may be asked to repay any overpayment that has already been made.


Termination of awards

Termination of a scholarship award is only considered as a last resort since the objective is to enable students to bring their studies to a successful completion. However, students should be aware that the UKRI reserves the right to terminate a scholarship where a student or their University breaks any of the terms and conditions, or if their progress is considered unsatisfactory, or if they are absent from their studies without authorisation.

Progress

UKRI scholarships are subject to satisfactory progress. If a student fails to meet the University’s requirements for satisfactory progress their scholarship may be suspended or terminated.


Who to contact

Questions in relation to the above can be directed to the PGR Scholarships Team at pgr-scholarships@sheffield.ac.uk. Students who are funded via DTPs or CDTs should in the first instance contact their centre manager with any queries. 

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