COVID19 Extensions Policy and Criteria

As a University of Birmingham (UoB) PGR student, you have been asked to do your best to engage with your studies during the period affected by COVID19. 

If you have been unable to complete essential research tasks as a result of COVID19, you have been advised to log the extent of the problem clearly on the online GRS2 form each month (pro rata for part-time PGRs) in discussion with your supervisor.

If you and your supervisory team (either your supervisors, mentor, or department/school PGR lead) feel that COVID19 has significantly delayed your research progress it is possible to apply for either:

1)      An extension to your studies. (You can apply for an extension if you have experienced significant delay, whether you are normally registered or in thesis awaited), or

2)      A Leave of Absence (LOA)

The most appropriate option for you will depend on the extent to which your research has been affected, and the evidence contained in your GRS2 forms.

We have produced a flowchart that may help explain the different options that might apply to you, and the process that you should follow.

If you are unsure as to when your periods of maximum or minimum registration are, you can find this information at the top of your GRS2 forms. 

The end of minimum period of registration is the earliest date on which you may submit your research degree thesis for examination. During minimum registration (i.e. before the end of your minimum registration) you are referred to as 'normally registered'.

The end of maximum period of registration is the latest date on which you may submit your research degree thesis for examination. You are referred to as 'thesis awaited' between the end of your minimum registration and the end of your maximum registration.

Eligibility to apply for an extension

If you and your supervisory team feel that your studies have been seriously delayed by COVID-19 you will be able to apply for an extension. Whether you apply for an extension to your minimum registration (normally registered) or your maximum registration (thesis awaited) will depend upon your own circumstances.

If you wish to apply for an extension, you should apply on the appropriate form (specific details are provided below) following discussion with your supervisory team.

  • Extensions to maximum period of study

For those in ‘thesis awaited’ status who wish to apply for an extension to their maximum period of study (i.e. to your period in ‘thesis awaited’ in which you are working toward the final deadline for submitting your thesis) please see the guidance on applying for an extension to your registration period, and the appropriate form

(Note, it is normally recommended that extension requests are submitted 3 months in advance of the thesis submission deadline.  It is acknowledged that during the COVID19 period, however, this may not be possible. It is also acknowledged that if an extension to your maximum period of registration is awarded due to COVID19 you will not be charged additional continuation fees for this extended period).

  • Extensions to minimum period of study

If your studies have been affected by COVID19, you may need to extend your minimum period of registration (normally registered). The University COVID19 PGR Extensions Panel will make its judgement on all applications for extension to the minimum period of registration on a case by case basis. (Note, if an extension to your minimum period of registration is approved, your maximum registration will automatically be increased by the same duration).

UKRI funding

1. Funded by UKRI with a funding end date between 1 March 2020 and 31 March 2021

Postgraduate Researchers (PGRs) who are funded by UKRI and whose funding end date falls between 1 March 2020 and 31 March 2021 were invited to apply for an extension by 12 May 2020 using the UKRI COVID19 Extensions form. If you fall within this group, but have not applied for an extension, please submit your extension request to the University Graduate School as soon as possible.

Please note that the minimum period of registration may not match the funded period for some PGRs. If you are funded by UKRI (wholly or in part), you should use your end of funding date as the key date.

To be clear: If your UKRI funding ends between 1 March 2020 and 31 March 2021 and you need to apply for an extension, you should apply for an extension now.

Some DTP or iCASE or similar students may receive funding from more than one source. Irrespective of whether you are funded in part (ie if your funding is provided by UKRI in partnership with UoB or an external funder) or completely funded by UKRI you should complete the UKRI COVID extension form.

If you do not wish to apply for an extension, please let your local PGR administrator know (and please copy in the University Graduate School at the following address:  graduateschool@contacts.bham.ac.uk).

2. Funded by UKRI with funding end date after 31 March 2021

If you are UKRI funded and your minimum registration will end after 31 March 2021, you will also be able to apply for an extension, but should do so after the period of disruption has ended. This webpage will be updated with further details and so please check this page regularly for updates.  You can see the latest UKRI guidance on the UKRI website.

Other external funding

If you are funded by another external funder (e.g. charity, industry or other) you should follow guidance from your funder about any possible extension to your funding (please see question 5 on the FAQ webpage for links to external funder guidance). Your supervisory team and the University Graduate School will support you in holding these conversations. If your funder will not fund an extension, you should explain this on your extension request form and include a copy of communication received from your sponsor with your completed extension request form. You can apply for an extension to your minimum registration using the following form.

UOB Funding

If you are funded by the University of Birmingham (i.e. School, College or the University), and you were still normally registered (ie, not in ‘thesis awaited’) on 20 March 2020, you are eligible to apply for a COVID19 extension (and for additional funding) to support you to successfully complete your postgraduate research degree.

Additional funding may be used for subsistence and research costs.  Where awarded, it will be paid in a specific one-off contribution during the period of agreed extension.

The University has put aside funds to support UoB grant holders who need help; however, funds are limited and therefore, unfortunately, we are not able to guarantee financial support to every applicant. 

Self-Funding students

If you are a self-funded student, you can apply for an extension if your work has been disrupted by COVID19. If you are awarded an extension you will not be charged additional fees for this period.

Criteria for assessment of applications for funded extensions to minimum period of study

Applications for all COVID19 funded extensions will be assessed by considering the extent of disruption and the corresponding need for additional time to complete your research.  We know that the list below is not exhaustive, and include it to illustrate typical issues involved.  You can apply on other grounds as appropriate.

a)       Additional caring responsibilities.

b)      Redeployment to work on COVID-19 related research.

c)       Lack of access to research resources and facilities (e.g. lab or library closure – please include dates when these research resources and facilities were not available)

d)      Interruption of date collection and/or fieldwork

e)      Affected health and well-being, or because you are part of a particularly vulnerable group.

f)        Where self-isolation has undermined your ability to finish your doctorate within the registration period.

g)       Considering the additional impact COVID19 may have had, for example but not limited to, those postgraduate researchers living with disability, chronic illness, mental ill-health and neurodivergence

Applications for UoB COVID19 funded extensions will be awarded only where it is clear that completion of the research degree is dependent on a financial award being made.

When Should I Apply for a COVID19 extension?

UKRI funded

If you are funded by UKRI, and your funded period will come to an end between 1 March 2020 and 31 March 2021, and you have not yet applied for an extension then you should do so as soon as possible.  If you do not wish to apply for an extension, please let your local PGR administrator know (and please copy in the University Graduate School at the following address:  graduateschool@contacts.bham.ac.uk).

If you are funded by UKRI, and your funded period will come to an end after 31 March 2021, you will be able to apply for an extension due to COVID19. Please check this webpage regularly for further updates about when to apply.

UOB, other external or self-funded

If you are funded by University of Birmingham or any other external funder, or if you are self-funded and would like to apply for an extension to your minimum registration period.  If:

  • your period of minimum registration ends on or before 31 October 2020 you should make your application by 1 July 2020. 
  • your period of minimum registration ends between 1 November 2020 and 31 March 2021 you should make your application by 1 September 2020.
  • your period of minimum registration ends between 1 April 2021 and 30 June 2021 you should make your application by 1 December 2020.
  • your period of minimum registration ends between 1 July 2021 and 30 November 2021 you should make your application by 1 March 2021.
  • your period of minimum registration ends between 1 December 2021 and 30 June 2022 you should make your application by 1 July 2021.
  • your period of minimum registration ends between 1 July 2022 and 30 November 2022 you should make your application by 1 September 2021.
  • your period of minimum registration ends between 1 December 2022 and 30 June 2023 you should make your application by 1 December 2021.

Future applications will be considered twice a year with deadlines on 1 July and 1 December. Therefore, you should make your application to the last deadline before the beginning of your final normally registered year (or as soon as possible thereafter).  You are being asked to wait to make these applications in order that we can know the full extent of disruption in each case.

Application Deadline

Minimum Registration Considered

1st July 2020

< 31/10/2020

1st September 2020

01/11/2020 – 31/03/2021

1st December 2020

01/04/2021 – 30/06/2021

1st March 2021

01/07/2021 – 30/11/2021

1st July 2021

01/12/2021 – 30/06/2022

1st September 2021

01/07/2022 – 30/11/2022

1st December 2021

01/12/2022 – 30/06/2023

COVID19 Extension Review and Appeals Process

Once you have received our decision regarding your COVID19 extension request, you may find that either your circumstances have changed since you submitted your extension request, or you disagree with our decision. The COVID19 Extension Review & Appeals Process details how you can apply for a review or appeal of the University COVID19 Extension Panel decision.

Please email your completed appeals form to graduateschool@contacts.bham.ac.uk.

Leave of Absence

As a postgraduate researcher you may apply for a Leave of Absence (LOA), and this pauses the registration on your PGR study.  If granted, LOA means that you would not pay fees or receive stipend payments for the period of suspension.  We recommend that you apply for LOA now only if you are either:

(a) a self-funding student unable to complete any work as a result of COVID19

(b) if you wish to entirely suspend academic activity during this period (for example to work for the NHS).

Please note that in some exceptional cases, LOA may not stop your stipend. Where this is the case details will have been confirmed to you at the time of your application.  Please see the guidance on applying for LOA (and the application form) on the Research Student Administration Team webpage.

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