Each of the universities in the OOC DTP consortium has published guidance on how it is responding, which includes specific advice for its students. Please refer to this in the first instance.
UKRI has published statements regarding its approach to the coronavirus pandemic. This guidance is made on behalf of all of the Research Councils that form UKRI, and so represents the AHRC’s advice on the subject to date.
As an OOC DTP-funded student, we encourage you to review this information, which continues to be updated regularly. It should be read in conjunction with guidance issued by your university and by the OOC DTP about what to do in the event that your doctoral research is disrupted at this time.
The AHRC and other Research Councils are working to identify potential issues facing students, and they will offer further guidance in due course. As part of this, the AHRC is consulting all of the DTPs. The OOC DTP is actively engaged in that consultation process, and we will raise any funding and regulatory matters likely to be of concern to our students.
We know that your work may be disrupted at this time by social distancing and travel restrictions (such that you cannot visit archives, field sites and/or research participants), caring responsibilities or illness.
If you feel your research is being disrupted, you should discuss with your supervisor what work you could undertake from home (e.g. literature review, work on electronic archives/data sets, writing up), and how your research project might be adjusted to enable you to work remotely. We know that it will not always be possible to adjust your research project, but if it is possible, even to a limited extent or for a short period of time, you should aim to do so.
We are keen to support students at this challenging time, and as per UKRI guidance will consider extensions to maintenance funding for fully funded students where,
- critical primary research tasks have to be postponed for a significant period of time (for example, where indispensable archive and library visits, fieldwork and laboratory work, or interviewing and data collection cannot be conducted in timely fashion);
- a significant period of self-isolation substantively undermines your ability to complete your doctorate within the funded period (i.e. where you are prevented from carrying out a considerable portion of the work that you and your supervisor expected to be manageable within the funded period of your doctorate before the outbreak of Covid-19 reduced your opportunities to conduct primary research).
As per the UKRI guidance, requests for extensions to maintenance funding will be on a case-by-case basis. We will establish a procedure for this in due course. In the meantime, please try to document any disruption you experience.
We would recommend that fees-only students of the OOC DTP contact their home institution for advice on funding during the crisis, since hardship support may be available via your university.
If you cannot undertake any work at all
In most cases, it is expected that students should be able to continue working on their doctoral projects from home, even if at a reduced capacity.
If you believe that you will be unable to undertake any research at all for a significant period of time, please discuss your situation with your supervisor in the first instance. This may be because you cannot adjust your project, even temporarily, or because you are unable to study owing to caring responsibilities or other personal circumstances.
If your supervisor agrees that your studies will need to be paused for a significant period of time, please follow your university’s process for suspending or intermitting, and inform the OOC DTP Manager of the decision.
Suspension/intermission is a complete break from study. Your studentship funding will be suspended for the period agreed, and will resume upon your return. Your submission date will be extended to take account of the time you have not been studying.
If you become unwell
If you become unwell with Covid-19 or any other illness, current UKRI and AHRC terms and conditions apply. According to those terms and conditions, the OOC DTP is expected to continue payment of a studentship for absences covered by a medical certificate which last up to 13 weeks within any 12-month period. However, in cases where a medically certified illness lasts for more than 13 weeks, we are expected to suspend the studentship for the period beyond those 13 weeks. In line with the UKRI statement, we will accept any revised government guidance concerning medical certification.
We recommend that you continue working in a safe space, unless:
- you need to take a break from your doctoral studies for health reasons;
- you need to take a break from your doctoral studies to care for people close to you;
- or there is no substantive work that you can do on your thesis in the current situation.
The OOC DTP expect your maintenance payments to be made without disruption. The consortium universities have put business continuity plans in place to ensure that this is the case.
In the event that you do not receive a payment when expected, please get in touch with your institutional contact in the first instance:
If you do not hear back or remain concerned, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
As per government advice on staying at home until further notice, OOC DTP students should not undertake any non-essential travel for the purposes of research.
If you have already incurred costs for research/skills activities
We recognise that some of you have been awarded additional funding by the OOC DTP in support of activities and/or travel that will have been, or may yet be, disrupted.
If you have already incurred costs for OOC DTP-supported activity, and you are no longer able to travel, e.g. because FCO advice has changed, or flights and/or events have been cancelled, please try to claim back any costs already incurred.
If your plans have been delayed but you believe that you will be able to undertake the activity at a later point in your studentship, you may still use any additional funding that has been awarded for such purposes. We will endeavour to be as flexible as we can be with regards to justifiable changes to the dates and costings of study visits for which funding has already been approved. You must inform the OOC DTP if you cannot complete the activity for which you were awarded funds, or if the costs are likely to change significantly.
Please contact your university to discuss whether it would be better to return any funds already paid out under the OOC DTP’s additional funding scheme, or alternatively to repurpose them for a delayed study visit later in the year:
If you have already booked and paid for any travel or accommodation using monies awarded through the OOC DTP’s additional funding scheme, or on the basis of a confirmed award that has not yet been paid, we would ask you, if at all possible, to maintain your bookings until providers cancel or travel is blocked by the appropriate authorities. That way, you might still receive a refund or qualify for an insurance payment.
If you need to make an insurance claim, please discuss with your university; each institution has different travel insurance requirements and processes:
If you are unable to claim back costs already incurred, please rest assured that the OOC DTP will not normally require repayment of awards where costs have proven unrecoverable for good reason. We will manage these on a case by case basis.
Planning future activities
Although you may need to readjust plans for your doctoral study for the coming weeks and months, it is worth continuing to plan for essential study visits later in the year. Under the current circumstances however, we would advise against booking or paying for any travel or accommodation relating to research, training or conference participation for the time being. Please get in touch with the OOC DTP team on email@example.com before you book any travel supported by the DTP’s additional funding scheme.
Please remember, students should always check and observe FCO advice before travel, and ensure that they have followed university requirements in terms of travel insurance and risk assessment.
The next additional funding round will run as planned, with a submission deadline of 1 June. Please submit applications on the basis of estimated costs, as per normal. That way, you will have a chance of securing support if the travel can go ahead. Applications will not be invalidated simply because the dates and costs of a study visit might change.
We had planned to hold one further local cohort event this term. We are investigating ways that we might be able to deliver this virtually, and will be in touch about this in due course.
Each of the three consortium universities is continuing to offer training and related events in virtual format. We would encourage you to engage with any virtual training and/or research-related events available to you at this time, and to continue recording these on your Inkpath profile.
In light of the current circumstances however, the DTP will relax its expectation that all OOC DTP students should complete at least 10 days of training per annum.