COVID-19 Extensions Policy and Criteria

The final deadline for applying for a COVID-19 extension will be 1 December 2022. Please note applications for this round should be sent to your College using the following email addresses:

College of Arts and Law: calpg-research@contacts.bham.ac.uk
College of Engineering and Physical Sciences: epsgraduateschool@contacts.bham.ac.uk
College of Life and Environmental Sciences: Dr Victoria Cabrera-Sharp, Deputy Director of Operations (Research & Knowledge Transfer): v.cabrera-sharp@bham.ac.uk
College of Medical and Dental Sciences: Karen Carter, Operations Manager (Postgraduate Research Programmes): k.s.carter@bham.ac.uk
College of Social Sciences: cosspgr@contacts.bham.ac.uk

Overview

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 your research has been significantly disrupted by COVID-19 and the disruption to your research cannot be addressed by mitigation measures alone, you could consider requesting a COVID-19 extension. Please provide a clear explanation for why it was not possible to fully mitigate the impact of COVID-19, and how you will use the Statement of Disruption to Research in your thesis. 

Please note, funds are limited. By now, we expect the majority of PGRs to have been able to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 sufficiently to be able to complete their thesis. COVID-related extensions will only be awarded in exceptional circumstances and where a full justification is provided. Priority will be given to PGRs most in need.

If you’ve previously applied or been awarded an extension, you should only re-apply if there are significant new COVID-related mitigating circumstances that were not included in your last application.

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 submitted for the 1 December 2022 deadline will be considered on a case by case basis by your College.

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

UKRI funded PGRs are eligible to apply for an extension to their minimum period of study and for additional funding. Please note, funds are limited and we are not able to guarantee additional funding for every extension applicant.

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.

Please note PGRs funded by the ESRC Midlands Graduate School DTP should apply to the MGS if they require a COVID-19 extension instead of applying to the University of Birmingham. Full details on the MGS Covid extensions policy, including the eligibility criteria, can be found on the MGS 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 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.

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. Please note, funds are limited and we are not able to guarantee additional funding for every extension applicant.

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.

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 submitted for the 1 December 2022 deadline will be considered by your College. 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 your College, 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 two 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)

 

Colleges

Professional Services