Guidance for students and award-holders impacted by the pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic means there have been changes to funding deadlines, extensions and support.

Changes to deadlines and extensions

Extensions for fellowships and standard grants

You now have six months to start your project, instead of three, if you’ve been awarded a fellowship or standard grant.

All grant letters for new UKRI standard grant opportunities will provide six months to start.

Extensions for strategic and managed mode grants

You can make a request for an extension for a strategic or managed mode grant through Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S) via a Grant Maintenance Request (GMR).

Each request will be considered individually by your funder.

Submit your Grant Maintenance Request.

COVID-19 grant extension allocation

UKRI is distributing funding of up to £180 million to support research and technical staff whose projects have been disrupted. Universities and organisations are receiving COVID-19 allocations.

See further details about the COVID-19 grant extension allocation policy (PDF, 128KB)

Information for organisations managing the allocation

Support for students

Extension funding

We updated our funding policy on 24 March 2021. New eligibility rules apply.

If you are finding it difficult to adapt your project, you may be eligible for more UKRI funding.

You must apply for this funding through your research organisation. Contact your research organisation to find out how.

To apply, you must be:

  • a UKRI-funded student
  • unable to adapt your project to finish in your existing funding period.

If you’ve previously applied for an extension, but are still struggling to adapt your project, you can reapply. You will only be granted an extension if exceptional circumstances apply, for example due to caring responsibilities.

Length of extension

We expect most extensions to be up to three months long. They should only be longer in exceptional circumstances. You must be able to justify why you need the length of time you request.

About our funding policy

We updated our policy on support for doctoral students on 24 March 2021.

Find out more about the funding available in the:

Find out how UKRI set this funding policy.

Sick leave

We are asking research organisations to treat sick leave caused by the pandemic differently to our normal sick leave policy.

This means:

  • you may not need a medical certificate to prove sickness caused by the pandemic
  • sick leave extensions can be for up to 28 weeks in length in a 12-month period, rather than the normal 13 weeks.

Find out more in the ‘student health and wellbeing’ section of our guidance for doctoral students supported by UKRI (PDF, 165KB).

Non-pandemic related sickness

Our normal sick leave policy applies for sick leave not caused by the pandemic. This is up to 13 weeks within a 12-month period.


If you are shielding and are not able to work from home, you can use your shielding letter to claim sick pay.

You can only claim sick leave for the period specified in your letter.

We consider sick leave for shielding separately to other sick leave. This means time off for shielding does not come out of your normal sick leave allowance.

Change in mode of study

If the pandemic has caused a change in personal or household circumstances, you can change your mode of study.

Changing your mode of study could mean switching from full time to part time, or part time to full time.

You can change your mode of study because of the pandemic more than once. This means you have flexibility if your circumstances change again.

Before you change

There are other options available to help you adapt.

Before you switch, first consider:

  • getting support to adjust your project
  • applying for our doctoral extension funding.

Find out more in the ‘part-time students’ section of our guidance for doctoral students supported by UKRI (PDF, 165KB).


If you are supporting the government response to COVID-19, UKRI will agree to an extension.

Examples of this include:

  • returning to clinical service
  • working in an NHS Test and Trace laboratory.

Find out more in the guidance for doctoral students supported by UKRI (PDF, 165KB).

More guidance

Read more in our guidance for doctoral students supported by UKRI (PDF, 165KB).

This includes guidance on:

  • events, activities and placements
  • co-funding
  • additional costs.

Last updated: 18 January 2024

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help improve our online products and services.