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Research: Students

Question for Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

UIN 118491, tabled on 20 November 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he was consulted on the recent decision by UK Research and Innovation not to extend the studentships of doctoral students affected by the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

Answered on

30 November 2020

The Government recognises that the disruption of recent months has impacted the ability of doctoral students to undertake their research projects. This has led to students having to adjust their projects, making decisions around changing their approach, collecting different data, or changing the way they had planned to work with people, labs, archives or facilities.

As it is not possible for all students to adjust their projects and training plan in such a way, I announced in April that UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)-funded PhD students in the final year and whose studies have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic would be provided with additional support. Subsequently on the 11th November, UKRI provided a further £19.1 million of funding to support students in earlier years, including disabled students, those with long-term illness, those who are neurodivergent, or those with caring responsibilities.

Combined, these two interventions have meant that UKRI has made over £60 million of financial support available to students most impacted by the pandemic. It is estimated that this funding is available for up to 12,000 students.

UKRI as the national funding agency for research and innovation, has independence to deliver funding under the direction of BEIS ministers. BEIS and UKRI are continuing to assess the impact of Covid 19 across all the research and innovation they fund.