COVID-19 Extensions Policy and Criteria

UPDATED 20/09/2021

As a University of Birmingham PGR, you have been asked to do your best to engage with your studies during the period affected by COVID-19.

You have been advised to log any impacts and difficulties caused by COVID-19 clearly in the online GRS2 form each month (pro rata for part-time PGRs) in discussion with your supervisors, and you should continue to do that.

If your research has been significantly disrupted by COVID-19, please consider the following options:

mitigate the impact of COVID-19

Consider what you steps you might take to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. Where appropriate, and in discussion with your supervisory team, you may decide to re-direct your research, alter your research design, or work on new or amended research questions.

submit a Statement on Disruption to Research

Where steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 are taken, you may wish to submit a Statement on Disruption to Research. These Statements enable examiners to take mitigation steps into account at progress milestones and thesis examinations. The academic standards for progress milestones and thesis examinations remain the same, but a Statement on Disruption allows examiners to be flexible with respect to the quantity and scope of the work.

apply for a Leave of Absence

If you will be unable to engage with your studies at all for a period (for example, because of caring responsibilities or work for the NHS), you may wish to apply for a Leave of Absence.

request a COVID-19 extension

If the disruption to your research cannot be addressed by mitigation measures alone, you should consider requesting a COVID-19 extension.

The most appropriate option(s) for you will depend on the extent of the disruption to your research and the evidence contained in your GRS2 forms.

Eligibility to apply for an extension

You may apply for a COVID-19 extension if you are either normally registered or in the thesis awaited stage. 

If you are normally registered, you should apply for an extension to your minimum period of study; if you are thesis awaited, you should apply for an extension to your maximum period of study.

Thesis awaited PGRs should follow the usual procedure for Extensions to Maximum Period of Study.

The remaining guidance on this page is for normally registered PGRs applying for a COVID-19 extension to their minimum period of study.

Extensions to minimum period of study

Applications for COVID-19 extensions to minimum period of study are considered on a case by case basis by the University COVID-19 PGR Extensions Panel.

COVID-19 extension requests should normally be for periods of up to three months. In exceptional circumstances, requests for extensions of longer than three months will be considered, restricted to the time needed to complete a thesis of sufficient standard to pass examination. Further information on the criteria used to assess extension requests and on what count as exceptional circumstances can be found below.

PGRs fall into four different funding categories: (i) UKRI funded, (ii) other externally funded, (iii) UoB funded and (iv) self-funded. Please ensure that you complete the correct extension request form for your funding category.

UKRI funded PGRs

COVID-19 extension requests from UKRI funded PGRs have been invited in three phases.

In Phase 1, UKRI funded PGRs with a funding end date between 1 March 2020 and 31 March 2021 were invited to apply for extensions by 12 May 2020. This call has now closed.

In Phase 2, UKRI funded PGRs with a funding end date after 31 March 2021 and a funding start date before 1 March 2020 were invited to apply for an extension by 1 March 2021. This call has now closed.

In Phase 3, there will be a series of extension request application deadlines, in July and December each year, for UKRI funded PGRs who have been unable to adapt their project to submit by the end of their funding period. All UKRI funded PGRs who have not yet submitted their thesis are eligible to apply, including those who have previously applied for an extension, though second extensions will only be granted in exceptional circumstances. You should aim to submit your extension request approximately 12 months before the end of your current funding period, when the success of mitigation measures and the level of additional need can best be assessed. The next deadline for Phase 3 extension requests is 1 December 2021.

Extension requests should normally be for periods of up to three months. In exceptional circumstances, requests for extensions of longer than three months will be considered, restricted to the time needed to complete a thesis of sufficient standard to pass examination. Further information on the criteria used to assess extension requests and on what count as exceptional circumstances can be found below.

Please use the following form to apply for an extension:

UKRI COVID-19 Extension Form (Phase 3) (Word - 47KB)

Some PGRs receive part of their funding from UKRI and part from elsewhere. If any portion of your funding comes from UKRI, you should complete the UKRI COVID-19 Extension Form.

The latest UKRI guidance is available on the UKRI website.

Other externally funded PGRs

PGRs with other (non-UKRI) external funding should follow guidance from their funders about extensions to funding (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 this. You should also apply for an extension to your minimum period of study using the extension request form below. If your funder will not extend your funding, you should explain this on your extension request form and include a copy of relevant communications from your funder.

There will be a series of extension request application deadlines, in July and December each year, for PGRs who have been unable to adapt their project to submit by the end of their minimum period of study. You should aim to submit your extension request approximately 12 months before the end of your minimum period of study, when the success of mitigation measures and the level of additional need can best be assessed. The next deadline for extension requests is 1 December 2021.

Extension requests should normally be for periods of up to three months. In exceptional circumstances, requests for extensions of longer than three months will be considered, restricted to the time needed to complete a thesis of sufficient standard to pass examination. Further information on the criteria used to assess extension requests and on what count as exceptional circumstances can be found below.

Please use the following form to apply for an extension:

Externally Funded Extension Form (Word - 45KB)

UoB funded PGRs

PGRs funded by UoB are eligible to apply for an extension to their minimum period of study and for additional funding. Additional funding may be used for subsistence and research costs. Where awarded, it will be paid in a specific one-off contribution during the extension period.

The University has put aside funds to support UoB funded PGRs affected by COVID-19. However, funds are limited and we are not able to guarantee additional funding for every extension applicant.

There will be a series of extension request application deadlines, in July and December each year, for PGRs who have been unable to adapt their project to submit by the end of their minimum period of study. You should aim to submit your extension request approximately 12 months before the end of your minimum period of study, when the success of mitigation measures and the level of additional need can best be assessed. The next deadline for extension requests is 1 December 2021.

Extension requests should normally be for periods of up to three months. In exceptional circumstances, requests for extensions of longer than three months will be considered, restricted to the time needed to complete a thesis of sufficient standard to pass examination. Further information on the criteria used to assess extension requests and on what count as exceptional circumstances can be found below.

Please use the following form to apply for an extension:

UoB Funded Extension Form (Word - 41KB)

Self-funded PGRs

Self-funded PGRs are eligible to apply for an extension to their minimum period of study.

There will be a series of extension request application deadlines, in July and December each year, for PGRs who have been unable to adapt their project to submit by the end of their minimum period of study. You should aim to submit your extension request approximately 12 months before the end of your minimum period of study, when the success of mitigation measures and the level of additional need can best be assessed. The next deadline for extension requests is 1 December 2021.

Extension requests should normally be for periods of up to three months. In exceptional circumstances, requests for extensions of longer than three months will be considered, restricted to the time needed to complete a thesis of sufficient standard to pass examination. Further information on the criteria used to assess extension requests and on what count as exceptional circumstances can be found below.

Please use the following form to apply for an extension:

Self-Funded Extension Form (Word - 45KB)

Criteria for assessment and exceptional circumstances

Extension requests should normally be for periods of up to three months. The COVID-19 PGR Extensions Panel will consider the extent of the disruption, the success of mitigation measures and the level of additional need. Grounds on which extension requests may be based include, but are not limited to, the following:

additional caring responsibilities

redeployment to work on COVID-19-related research

difficulty accessing resources and facilities (e.g. lab or library closure – please include dates)

interruption of data collection and/or fieldwork

negative impact on health or well-being

disruption caused by self-isolation

additional challenges faced by PGRs living with disability, chronic illness, mental ill-health and neurodivergence

In exceptional circumstances, requests for COVID extensions of longer than three months will be considered, restricted to the time needed to complete a thesis of sufficient standard to pass examination. The length of time requested must be clearly justified. Exceptional circumstances are limited to:

a disclosed disability, neurodiversity, specific learning difference or long-term illness that affects the PGR’s ability to adapt their research project

additional and ongoing caring responsibilities that affect the PGR’s ability to adapt their research project

specific, extraordinary and unavoidable disruptions that cannot be mitigated against by changes to the research project

Extensions are not intended to cover time lost to COVID-19 disruption, but to assist PGRs who have been unable to adapt their project to complete a thesis of sufficient standard to pass examination. Extensions will be awarded only where it is clear that additional time is necessary for successful completion of the research degree.

Decision timeframe

Extension requests are considered by the COVID-19 PGR Extensions Panel. It may take up to eight weeks following the extension request deadline to be notified of the outcome.

COVID-19 extension review and appeals process

If your circumstances change after submitting your extension request, or if you disagree with the decision of the COVID-19 PGR Extensions Panel, you may request a review or appeal against the decision. If you wish to request a review or make an appeal, you should do so within six months of being notified of the outcome.

Please use the following form to request a review or make an appeal:

COVID-19 Extension Review and Appeal Form (Word - 40KB)

 

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