Postgraduate COVID support data report

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The latest analysis of the support UK Research and Innovation provided during the pandemic to postgraduate students is published today.

On 9 April 2020, UKRI announced Phase 1 of a support package for postgraduate research students and this was followed in November 2020 with Phase 2. The Phase 2 policy broadened the eligibility of students able to apply for extensions and provided additional funding.

Key findings

The Phase 1 awards data was published in April 2021. The key findings from the report on phase 2 awards published today include:

  • the average extension requested was 3.5 months and the average extension awarded was 2.9 months
  • 94% of students asking for an extension were granted Just under three quarters of students received an extension at least as long as that requested
  • slightly more than half of students seeking an extension (54%) were in their final year. The average cost of a granted extension was just under £4,390.

UKRI Director of Talent and Skills Professor Rory Duncan said:

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to create enormous challenges for everyone engaged in research and innovation, including doctoral students and their supervisory and support teams.

The objective of our support packages for postgraduate research students in both Phase 1 and 2 was, and is, to enable UKRI-funded students to achieve doctoral training outcomes and to be paid to do so.

This latest data helps us analyse the take-up and provision of support in our communities. Further analysis of its impact will continue once we know submission rates that are not available yet. We continue to monitor this and will update our communities in due course.

I’d like to thank everyone involved for working together through incredibly difficult times to support those whose work and lives were so disrupted.

Updated policy

In March 2021, UKRI updated the policy to enable all UKRI funded students (including those who had already received extensions under Phase 1 and 2) who are in need to apply for support from their research organisation (RO) or grant holder.

Training grant holders were provided with additional flexibility to use some of their training and cohort development funding to support extensions.

ROs were also allowed to reduce investment in recruitment by up to 10% of the 2021-22 commitment to new studentships to support extensions. Extensions awarded through use of these flexibilities is not captured in this analysis but will be reported to UKRI through training grant holders’ annual reporting.

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