Each of the universities in the OOC DTP consortium has published guidance on how it is responding, which includes up to date advice for its students. Please refer to this in the first instance.
We know that your work may be disrupted by social distancing and travel restrictions (such that you cannot visit archives, field sites and/or research participants), caring responsibilities or illness. If you haven't already, please discuss with your supervisor what work you could undertake in the circumstances (e.g. literature review, work on electronic archives/data sets, writing up), and how your research project might be adjusted to enable you to submit by your studentship end date.
As per the November 2020 UKRI guidance, we are no longer allowed to accept applications for extensions on the basis of Covid disruption. If you have not previously received a Covid extension from the OOC DTP and feel that you will be unable to submit your thesis by your studentship end date, you may be eligible for an extension under the UKRI Phase two doctoral extension process, which is managed by your home university.
Please remember that you may be eligible to apply for an extension to your studentship on the basis of research/training needs: https://www.oocdtp.ac.uk/extensions-studentship-funding. If you have adapted your project to ensure that it is Covid-secure, we would advise that you revisit and revise your Tranining Needs Analysis on Inkpath and discuss with your supervisor any new training needs and or distinct changes of research direction.
Please contact your 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. 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. Where illness lasts for more than 13 weeks, we are expected to suspend the studentship for the period beyond those 13 weeks. Normally, sick leave cannot be managed retrospectively, so please inform your institution promptly if you have to take a significant period of leave owing to ill health.
For ill health relating to COVID-19, the guidance is slightly different, following the February 2021 change to UKRI policy. For Covid-19 or Covid-related illnesses,
- sick leave can be claimed for up to 28 weeks within a 12-month period;
- sick leave can be claimed retrospectively, since earlier UKRI advice was that it would be covered by Covid extensions;
- there is greater flexibility over what evidence is required to apply for sick leave.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.