Internships and placements

Vacation Internships

EPSRC’s Vacation Internships scheme gives undergraduate students a taster of what it is like to do research. The students are given practical, first-hand experience of working on and carrying out research in a UK university. Up to 15 Vacation Internships per year can be awarded from a university’s EPSRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) funding (averaged over the duration of the doctoral training grant).

Eligibility

All students should be undertaking an undergraduate degree, which must be within EPSRC’s remit, and should be able to fulfil EPSRC’s doctoral training grant eligibility requirements at the end of their undergraduate degree. An internship should generally take place in the summer vacation before the student’s final year of study and last an average of ten weeks.

The scheme may not be used as a bridge between the undergraduate degree and doctorate or other work, therefore students who are currently in their final year and who will have completed their degree by the summer are not eligible.

The projects undertaken by the students must be clearly defined, at least 50% within EPSRC’s remit and must not be part of a normal degree course.

There is no opportunity to apply to EPSRC for a Vacation Internship. Recruitment to Vacation Internships is undertaken by the university offering the opportunity and any enquiries from students should be addressed to the relevant university. Not all universities with DTPs choose to offer Vacation Internships. This is an option within the flexibility of EPSRC’s DTPs.

Payment

Students should be employed as interns throughout their Vacation Internship by the Research Organisation and the minimum payment rate should be equivalent to the National Living Wage. All students undertaking Vacation Internships should receive payment equal to at least the National Living Wage, even if they are aged below 25.

Research Organisations may choose to pay more than the National Living Wage (to reflect regional differences in living costs, for example) but this must be funded through the flexibility of the training grant. EPSRC will not award any additional funding. The provision and value of any budget for consumables is at the discretion of the awarding university.

Administration

The awarding university will be responsible for administering all aspects of the award including:

  • selecting students
  • providing appropriate supervision
  • making sure that all support costs awarded are used and accounted for appropriately.

Universities are expected to undertake open, merit-based and transparent recruitment of students, selecting candidates regardless of background or any protected characteristic as defined by the Equality Act (2010).

EPSRC is keen to collect key data on Vacation Internships. DTP grant holders will be asked to report on any internships awarded as part of an annual data return for the DTP. As part of the Final Expenditure Statement for the relevant DTP grant, the university will also need to provide a spreadsheet listing Vacation Internships awarded and details of the funding drawn from the DTP to support these.

Placements

Doctoral students may undertake a work placement or internship where this is either directly related to the student’s training, or provides valuable transferable skills, provided this is well justified and approved in advance by their supervisor and research organisation.

Students must seek approval from their supervisor and the grant holder before applying for placement opportunities. Grant holders may approve or deny student placement requests, without further reference to EPSRC, in line with the following guidance.

Integral placements

A placement is integral to the award when it is either:

  • directly related and part of the student’s research project and thesis
  • a mandatory part of the doctoral course.

Action: the studentship continues throughout the placement and no suspension or extension is required.

Related placements

The placement is relevant and complementary to the student’s area of study and offers valuable subject-specific or transferable skills, although it is not integral to the award.

The research organisation, at the grant holder’s discretion, may choose the most appropriate option from:

  • suspension of the studentship
  • extension of the funded period
  • continuation of the studentship throughout the placement, with no suspension or extension.

Action: all funding must be covered from within the existing training grant funds, or through co-funding. No additional funding will be available from EPSRC to cover student placements. Grant holders should ensure there is sufficient flexibility within the training grant before authorising any funded extension.

Unrelated placements

The placement is not related to the student’s area of study but offers valuable transferable skills.

Action: the studentship should be suspended.

Paid placements

If the student directly receives payment for the placement from another source, such as the placement host. This is regardless of whether this is an integral, related or unrelated placement.

Action: the studentship should be suspended

Further information

We have a diagram which explains the different pathways for these decisions.

Last updated: 30 June 2022

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