Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: PATT travel grants for competitively awarded observation time

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Apply for a grant to cover travel and subsistence costs for visits to astronomy facilities.

This two-year funding is only available to those with travel costs of more than £5,000 a year.

You must:

  • be a UK-based researcher
  • only use funding for observation time related to projects already receiving competitively awarded funding.

Funding can only be used to support UK-based observers.

Who can apply

To apply, you must be at an eligible UK institution, travelling for competitively awarded science observation time and either:

  • be a permanent member of staff
  • hold a fully-tenured post.

This funding should be used to support UK-based observers only.

Observers are eligible to use the funds awarded in support of an approved programme of observations if they are:

  • the principal investigator or co-investigator, or their nominated representative
  • a member of academic or research staff at the institution of the principal investigator
  • a student attached to the institution of the principal investigator whose credentials have firmly established them as a bona fide observer.

You must be satisfied that your nominated representative is experienced and qualified to use or operate the facility on which an allocation of time has been awarded.

A principal investigator must not authorise the use of travel funds to support students undertaking observations that will form part of their PhD preparation. You should contact us if you are unsure about the eligibility of the student.

The funding we provide will normally be for one observer per visit only. If you need a second observer, you must get approval from us at least four weeks in advance.

Check if you’re eligible for funding.

What we're looking for

We’re looking to support UK-based observers visiting a range of astronomy facilities.

There are two opportunities related to travel and subsistence in support of competitively awarded science observation time at astronomy facilities.

This opportunity is for travel grants: two-year funding for groups with travel costs of more than £5,000 a year (application deadline in October each year).

There is a separate opportunity for travel claims: for applicants who neither hold nor have access to a travel grant awarded by the panel (no deadline). See the PATT travel claim opportunity.

Travel grants for costs and subsistence

You can apply for the full cost of expenses for travel and subsistence in support of competitively awarded science observation time. Any other costs associated with the research, such as postdoctoral salaries, equipment, and applicant time, are assumed to be covered by the relevant research grant awarded.

We will not fund commissioning work or observation at private facilities.

The scheme covers costs for travel and subsistence only.

How funding can be used

You may use the awarded funds, without seeking further approval, in support of observing runs on the following:

  • facilities in direct receipt of STFC funds, for example e-MERLIN, Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes (ING), Liverpool Telescope (LT)
  • facilities approved by our Panel for the Allocation of Telescope Time (PATT). For details, refer to the list of PATT approved telescopes in the ‘additional info’ section.

You should only use travel funds when the presence of a UK observer is essential to the observing programme or required by the facility.

Funding use which requires approval

Whilst you can apply for travel funds in support of observing runs on non-approved telescopes you must first get approval from us.

Only in exceptional cases can you apply for funding for:

  • the collection or collation of data
  • data reduction visits.

The default is that PATT is not the appropriate source of funding for the collection of data. Applicants should seek guidance from the STFC office before applying. Please use the email details in the ‘contact details’ section.

Your application must include a case for support for a physical journey, for example because of the complexities of the data or difficulties in transporting the data.

If you need to change or cancel an agreed observing programme, you must get approval from the STFC office for any alternative plans.

Funding for visits to both approved and non-approved telescopes is not guaranteed. You should not book flights or make other travel arrangements unless we have confirmed funding.

How to apply

You should contact the STFC office using the details given in the ‘contact details’ section if you are applying for a travel grant for the first time.

Applying using Je-S

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

We recommend you start your application early. You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.

When applying, select ‘new document’ then:

  • council : STFC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: PATT travel
  • call: PATT travel grants.

You can find advice on completing your application in the Je-S handbook.

Your host organisation will be able to provide advice and guidance on completing your application.

After completing the application, you must ‘submit document’, which will send your application to your host organisation’s administration.

Your host organisation’s administration is required to complete the submission process. You should allow sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process between submitting your proposal to them and the funding opportunity closing date.

STFC must receive your completed application by 16:00 on 4 October 2022.

What to include

You must include a case for support with your application for a travel grant. Details of what to include in your case for support are provided in the ‘PATT applicant guidelines’ document in the ‘additional info’ section.

The PATT applicant guidelines also provide information about our PATT travel claims sister scheme. Read the PATT travel claim for competitively awarded observation time for more information about this funding.

Please do not include any salary information on the Je-S form or any request for investigator funding. Only the principal investigator’s name needs to be entered on the Je-S form.

How we will assess your application

Your application will be reviewed by PATT and you should expect to hear the outcome within a month of the closing date.

Contact details

Ask about this funding opportunity

For help and advice relating to this opportunity, please contact us at the STFC Office using the email addresses provided below.

Justyna Misior, Programme Manager


Include ‘PATT Travel Grant’ in the subject line.

Kim Burchell,  Head of Astronomy Awards


Include ‘PATT Travel Grant’ in the subject line.

Get help with applying through Je-S



01793 444164

Opening times

Je-S helpdesk opening times

Additional info

What is PATT?

PATT is an advisory body set up to consider the allocation of telescope travel and subsistence costs in support of those allocations for a range of astronomy facilities for the UK community.

Applications for European Southern Observatory (ESO) facilities are dealt with directly by ESO. It may on occasion be asked for input to policy and related matters.

PATT no longer includes the time allocation groups (TAGS) which consider applications for the use of the ING, LT and e-MERLIN facilities. For more information about applying for time on the ING, LT or e-MERLIN, please consult directly with the telescope directors or check the relevant website.

Panel members are:

  • Professor Chris Watson, Queen’s University, Belfast (Chair)
  • Dr Carolin Villforth, University of Bath
  • Dr Nina Hatch, University of Nottingham.

Supporting documents

PATT applicant guidelines (PDF, 140KB)

List of PATT approved telescopes (PDF, 182KB)

PATT equality impact assessment (PDF, 160KB)

Expenditure breakdown template (Excel, 13KB)

This is the integrated website of the seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
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