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STEM Subjects: Higher Education

Question for Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

UIN 42026, tabled on 30 April 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy what guidance his Department has issued to (a) funding bodies and (b) universities in relation to STEM PhD students that are no longer able to complete lab based work.

Answered on

13 May 2020

The Government is aware of the impact of COVID-19 on the ability of STEM PhD students to complete lab-based work.

I have written an open letter, encouraging the sector – where possible and fully in line with government advice – to continue with science- and research-related business. This sets out that universities and research institutes will be best-placed to make decisions themselves about what should be paused or stopped. The letter has been published on the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) website:

UKRI is continuing to engage with the higher education sector, and confirmed on 9 April that it will offer a costed extension of up to six months for UKRI PhD students due to complete by 31 March 2021 whose study has been impacted by the pandemic.