The Doctoral College should offer funded extensions to self-funded PhDs

Passed: March 2021 (16th)

What do you want? / Why do you want it?

The Doctoral College has acknowledged that COVID-19 has interrupted PhD progress to the point where most students will have to go into the 4th year of their PhD due to COVID disruptions:

  • lack of access to research resources and facilities;

  • interruption of data collection and/or fieldwork;

  • increased caring responsibilities;

  • disability or health (including mental health) condition.

They have offered a pot of money for students to apply for funded extensions - but only to those who were already funded. As of the 9th of Feb 2021, the Doctoral College has finally offered support for self-funded students in the form of a one-off £500 grant. While this is a great first step, the three-month funded extension offered to funded students is worth £1,200 a month (for a total of £3,600). This means that while the Doctoral College is offering self-funded students some support, and acknowledging that they need it, the support on offer is a 7th of what they are giving other PhD students. Clearly, there is still a great disparity in the support on offer.

Other universities like York, Southampton, and LSE have all offered support to PGRs in the form of funded extensions whether a student is funded or not. Self-funded students at other universities have been given either a funded 3-month extension or tuition reimbursement at a percentage that covers the cost of a three - 6-month extension. The University of Leeds should follow this precedent and offer a funded extension to all PhD students regardless of funding or fee status (i.e. to Internationals, Home and EU students - self-funded or not). This should either be in the form of a grant or a tuition reimbursement so that all PhD students can finish their degree without entering economic hardship because of the University’s closure.

Expires: March 2024 (16th)

Submitted By: Kayla Kemhadjian

Officer: Education

Area of Work: Access to Education

Updates

August 2021: Kayla, alongside another PhD student Cristine, met with Megan (Education Officer) and Nicole (International & Postgraduate Officer) alongside staff from the Academic Engagement Team and Political Engagement Team for an update on the work on this policy. The Doctoral College provided AET with a series of updates on questions posed by Kayla, and we will continue to have these discussions as so far we've not been able to achieve what the proposer envisioned, particularly with them due to graduate (so any future updates will not benefit them or other self-funded students in their cohort). Though it is worth highlighting that other avenues of funding have been made available by the University and the Union (directly to PhD students and via schemes like the Hardship Fund).

March 2021: New Policy